Apple’s most recent financial quarter has come and gone, and the company posted (yet again) record revenues, pulling in a zillion dollars and ending its latest fiscal year with just shy of $100 billion in profit alone.
Let that sink in for a moment. $100 billion is such a large number as to be utterly incomprehensible to most of us who will never approach anywhere near even a single billion in our lifetime. It’s bigger than the gross domestic product of some countries–and not just a few of them. More than half of the countries in the world. Most of them. And again, that’s profit, not revenue, which was a soaring $316 billion, putting it in around the top 40 countries.
On the one hand, good for Apple. There was a time in living memory when the company teetered on the brink of going out of business; it’s since catapulted its way to becoming, by some estimates, the most valuable in the world. That’s a testament to the business acumen of its leaders, yes, but also to the fact that it makes great products.
Which makes it that much more jarring to see some of the moves the company has lately made that feel, for lack of a better word, cheap: the almost pathological need to take its cut on every transaction of the App Store, the recent influx of advertising, raising prices on its services. All of these are tactics that might have benefited a hardscrabble company trying to eke out a living, but when it’s applied to one that’s making more money than most countries in the world, they come across instead as unseemly.
While there are a lot of reasons why this has been Apple’s evolutionary path, to me it boils down to three main factors.