The rise and fall of the apple empire

Roman Forum and surroundings

Roman Forum and surroundings (Photo credit: KayYen)

History is littered with stories of civilisations that have grown in stature until they are too big to sustain. Once the edges are so far from the heart, people forget what it was all about and the empire implodes more dramatically than it grew. We studied two of them in history at school; the Greeks and the Romans.

Today, in a way, it’s difficult to imagine Greece having that much power which is ironic because they probably have more influence on the fate of Europe than any other country right now. The same goes for the Romans. As I was growing up, I was fed on a diet of World War 2 films and commando comics. In these, Italians were the guys with rubbish equipment who spent half their time retreating and the other half surrendering.

We British have had our imperial moments, but we are very much in decline as far as empires go. One by one, the countries that were once coloured pink on my ancient, dented globe have decided that they want to be independent of British rule.

The same thing is happening more and more to big companies now. If you travelled back in time a few years, Nokia and RIM were unstoppable in the mobile phone market. Today, they seem to be in terminal decline. When I was growing up, the word Kodak was synonymous with cameras. It looks like they will wink out of existence once they milk the last bit of value out of their patent portfolio.

There are some eternal survivors out there. IBM have been in trouble before but bounced back. Microsoft had a near death experience when they dismissed the Internet as a fad before waking up and smelling the coffee. Apple have been on the ropes before in the years between Steve Jobs leaving and rejoining, but today they are going from strength to strength.

But Steve Jobs is no more.

I have just upgraded to iOS 6, and although, in general, I am a fan of all things Apple – I am not happy. As part of iOS 6, the once fantastic maps app powered by Google has been replaced by an app produced by Apple. It is inferior in just about every way you can imagine. Yes it has 3D views of the major cities in the world, which is a neat trick where it works, but it feels like a gimmick you play with for half an hour and forget about.

Steve Jobs would never have let it out the door. I can’t help but feel that this is the turning point in the fate of Apple. Of course they have huge resources upon which to draw as did the Romans.

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One comment on “The rise and fall of the apple empire

  1. An important point is indeed the similarities between empires and their differences. One important aspect of Apple is the unavoidable association with the almost religious-like figure of Steve Jobs. Which makes Steve Jobs’ empire similar in its fabric to those of Alexander the great, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, or Hitler. And separates it from more institutional empires, such as the British or French colonial empires, or even the Roman empire. Those were based on a wider system elaborated by the upper middle-classes and upper classes that nascent democracies had empowered. They had their leaders, but those were only a part of a wider system.The interests of a bigger number of people built into a structured cultural system gave longevity to these empires. This is IBM.
    Empires led by blind faith into the fearless leader (Napoleon taking on the Russian empire whilst having not yet stabilized Spain, Hitler doing a similar move whilst still fighting Britain, etc.) do not survive the demise of their leader. The ‘dream’ vanishes with them.

    Apple is now leaderless. Its iOS6 has lost its Apple DNA? I am not surprised.

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