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专栏 - 苹果2_0

苹果注定要失败……也可能不会

Philip Elmer-DeWitt 2016年01月25日

苹果(Apple)公司内部流传着一个老笑话,那就是史蒂夫·乔布斯周围是一片“现实扭曲力场”:你离他太近的话,就会相信他所说的话。苹果的数百万用户中已经有不少成了该公司的“信徒”,而很多苹果投资者也赚得盆满钵满。不过,Elmer-DeWitt认为,在报道苹果公司时有点怀疑精神不是坏事。听他的应该没错。要知道,他自从1982年就开始报道苹果、观察史蒂夫·乔布斯经营该公司。
在这场关于苹果公司未来的怪异论战中,双方不可能都对。

眼下的商业新闻报道出现了一种非常奇怪的现象。

作为世界上最具价值的企业,苹果公司攫取了全球智能手机市场94%的利润,超过了2014年的85%。然而,很多报道似乎都在说苹果要完了,特别是在迫切追求点击量的博主笔下。

一边是亮眼业绩,一边是唱衰论调,这确实有点怪异,难怪一些苹果死忠叫嚷着让失败论者拿出真凭实据。双方论战谈不上公平,但看起来很有趣。例如下面这些:

苹果登顶

“2015年10月份,苹果在业绩发布电话会议上称过去一年是‘史上最成功的一年’。随后公布了业绩,讲了个动听的故事,然后华尔街基本上已经认定苹果是资本主义之神。他们都错了。”——Bryan Clark,The Next Web

“苹果没说错。按收入和利润这两项客观指标衡量,2015财年确实是苹果历史上最成功的一年。我觉得你可以从其他方面来定义这样的说法,比如增长率或者股价涨幅,但收入和利润是相当公平的衡量标准。我没看出‘华尔街基本上已经认定苹果是资本主义之神’。我只注意到,公布业绩当天苹果的股价仅上涨了2%,随后回落到了公布业绩前的水平。”——John Gruber,Daring Fireball

前景黯淡

“苹果公布的季度收入和利润都有显著增长,动力来自iPhone的热销。但这样的业绩带来了一个问了千万次的问题,作为世界上价值最高的公司,苹果的增长势头如何保持?”——Katie Benner,《纽约时报》

“请原谅我武断……苹果对高端市场的垄断越发巩固,形成了恶性循环,也确保了对高端市场的无限控制。从应用的角度来说,新应用以及应用更新总会先推出iOS版本,这就意味着重视这些应用或更新的人会去购买iPhone,也就意味着今后的新应用以及应用更新还会先推出iOS版本。从零部件的角度而言,苹果逐渐成为唯一有实力购买最好零部件的手机厂商,巨大的采购规模则确保了他们能率先获得新型零部件。这当然会进一步加强苹果对高端领域的掌控,结果只能是苹果在零部件制造商面前变得更加强势。”——Ben Thompson,Stratechery

蒂姆•库克必须下台

“是这样,蒂姆•库克也许真的是人中龙凤,但要领导苹果这个全球最大企业,也是最领先的科技公司之一,库克似乎并不适合。”——Jay Somaney, Forbes.com

“你能意识到苹果之所以能成为全球最大企业以及技术龙头之一,库克的贡献是功不可没的,对吧?史蒂夫•乔布斯已经去世四年了,去世前的几年里也一直疾病缠身。没意识到还是根本不在乎?这才是福布斯撰稿人群体被问了千万次的问题(Waffle House餐厅油炸厨师的培训设备也一样)。”——The Macalope,Macworld

苹果注定失败的理论其实一直挥之不去。20世纪90年代末倒是差点成真,但这种论调为什么现在依然盛行,而且是在苹果如日中天的情况下,这是个谜。是有人操纵市场吗?是因为即将到来的严格对比吗?是做空者的阴谋?还是新记者发现在唱衰苹果公司是提高浏览量的法宝呢?

实际上,关于苹果的未来,你说不清,我也拿不准。(财富中文网)

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

Something very strange is going on in business journalism.

The world’s most valuable company just gobbled up94% of global smartphone profits, up from 85% a year ago. Yet much of the media’s coverage of Apple—especially in the click-hungry corners of blogosphere—is pursuing a narrative that says Apple is doomed.

It’s a bizarre disconnect, and it has roused some of Apple’s fiercest defenders to declare open season on the doomsayers. It’s not exactly a fair fight, but it’s fun to watch. Here’s a sampling:

Peak Apple

“In Oct,2015,Apple’s latest earnings call announced its ‘most successful year ever.’ The numbers were reported, the stories were spun and Wall Street basically anointed Apple the god of capitalism. They’re all wrong. — Bryan Clark, The Next Web.

“Apple wasn’t wrong—fiscal 2015 was Apple’s most successful year ever, by the objective measures of both revenue and profit. I suppose you can decide to define ‘most successful year ever’ in terms of something else, like percentage growth or stock price gains, but revenue and profit are pretty fair measures. I missed it where ‘Wall Street basically anointed Apple the god of capitalism’. All I noticed was that Apple’s stock price went up about 2% the day after earnings were announced and has since fallen back to where it was before Q4 earnings were announced.” —John Gruber, Daring Fireball.

The Outlook is Muted

“Apple turned in another quarter of enviable revenue and profit growth, fueled by sales of the iPhone. But the results raised a perennial question for the world’s most valuable company: How can it keep its growth streak alive?” —Katie Benner, New York Times.

“Forgive me in advance for this rant… Apple’s increasing monopoly on the high-end of the market is creating a virtuous cycle that ensures they will own the high-end indefinitely. From an app perspective, new and updated apps launch first on iOS, which means people who care buy iPhones, which means future new and updated apps launch first on iOS. From a component perspective, Apple is increasingly the only manufacturer that can even afford to buy the best components, and they have massive scale which ensures they get first dibs on what is new. This, of course, further solidifies Apple’s hold on the high end, which only strengthens their position with component manufacturers further.”—Ben Thompson,Stratechery.

Tim Cook Has To Go

“Look, Tim Cook might be an absolute Mahatma Gandhi of a human being but he does not seem to be the right person to lead the biggest and one of the most technological savvy companies in the world.” —Jay Somaney, Forbes.com.

“You do realize that it got to be the biggest and one of the most savvy in large part due to and under Cook’s leadership, right? Steve Jobs died four years ago and was sick for years prior to that. Didn’t realize or didn’t care? Such is the perennial question with the Forbes contributor network (and Waffle House fry cook training facility).” —The Macalope, Macworld.

The Apple-is-doomed theory has always been with us. In the late 1990s it came very close to being right. Why it persists today, in the face of the evidence to contrary, is a mystery to me. Is it market manipulation? The upcoming tough compare? A conspiracy of short sellers? A new generation of reporters discovering page-view gold in contrarian Apple stories?

As to the future of Apple, your guess is as good as mine actually.

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