Apple: The Fall of an American Icon…. Circa 1996

Tom Krazit of Cnet looks at why Apple has such devoted customers. In his article, he references a 1996 BusinessWeek cover story on “The Fall of an American Icon.” Reading the article now is fascinating, given the amazing turnaround Apple has experienced since. Some great excerpts:

  • “Apple is rapidly becoming a minor player in the computer business and may be swallowed up by Sun Microsystems Inc. or another rival.”
  • “Apple has lost something it’s unlikely to win back: the technology leadership that made the Macintosh so different from other computers.”
  • “Apple is in a lose-lose situation: It can’t command top dollar or stimulate market-share growth, even with price cuts that have slashed gross margins from 28.7% to 15%.”
  • “Apple could be takeover bait, eliciting fresh interest from companies such as Toshiba, Canon, Motorola, and Philips, in addition to Sun. Experts figure Apple would go for about $35 a share…”
  • “If Apple is serious about not selling, it may wind up jettisoning assets and remaking itself into a smaller, albeit more profitable, company. It already plans to narrow its focus to market segments where it is already strong–a move that means relinquishing forever the chance of regaining the mantle of industry leader. Already, the company has hinted that it might exit the low end of the PC race. Now, its eye is on the Internet, where the company claims some technical advantages. But Apple joins a long list of Web wannabes.”

In the article, they reference the credo that the company founders lived by:

“Create your own thing, defy the naysayers, and ignore the Establishment–one person can change the world.”

In the 80’s, Steve Jobs was ousted from the company because he was:

“unwilling to bend his aesthetic and technical ideals to fit market realities”

It’s ironic that those same beliefs are what allowed Apple to become an amazing comeback story. The article ends with a thought that hits the nail on the head:

“One hopeful sign for Apple on the Net is its strong following in media and entertainment…”

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