Apple – From Innovator To Fast Follower

Apple – From Innovator To Fast Follower

Apple no longer innovates. Look no further than its cash cow iPhone. Prior to the iPhone’s initial launch in January 2007, Motorola, Blackberry and Nokia ruled the mobile phone universe.

Today, rather than driving innovation, rather than striving to leapfrog the competition, Apple is content to play a feature/functionality cat and mouse game with Samsung, Google and upstarts such as OnePlus.

Heck, serial entrepreneur Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley (eyewear) and RED Cinema (mobile, cinematic high-definition cameras) will be first to market with a holographic phone this August/September when RED launches the RED Hydrogen One. Jannard has deep pockets, but his personal balance sheet of $2-3 Billion doesn’t begin to rival Apple’s $244 Billion cash war chest (including short and long-term marketable securities).

So what gives? Certainly Apple doesn’t have to put itself into financial dire straights in order to truly innovate. Apple’s corporate personality – and its lack of innovation – is related to the risk-averse personality of its non-founder CEO Tim Cook. This is consistent with our thesis that technology founder CEOs are better equipped to drive innovation than are hired CEOs. Technology founder CEOs embrace smart risk, push for perfection and don’t shy away from conflict in the pursuit of excellence. They are motivated to build, not to maintain, to extend market leadership positions, not run with the pack.

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