Netgear CEO says 'closed' Apple is doomed
Seen it all before, co-founder tells Aussies
Apple CEO Steve Jobs' insistence on a closed iOS platform is dragging his company down, dooming it to be overtaken by Google Android, according to the chairman and CEO of... Netgear.
"Once Steve Jobs goes away, which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to open up the platform," Netgear co-founder Patrick Lo told a Sydney, Australia, gathering on Monday, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
"Ultimately a closed system just can't go that far ..." he said. "If they continue to close it and let Android continue to creep up then it's pretty difficult as I see it."
Not that Lo doesn't respect Jobs' talents. "Right now the closed platform has been successful for Apple because they've been so far ahead as thought leaders because of Steve Jobs," he said.
But that lead can't continue. In Lo's view, open trumps closed every time. Telling the SMH that he has "seen this movie play several times," he cited such previous industry dust-ups such as Betamax v VHS, Mac v Windows, and the raft of networking protocols overrun by TCP/IP.
When discussing Jobs' campaign against Adobe Flash, Lo dipped in an ad hominem attack. "What's the reason for him to trash Flash? There's no reason other than ego," he said.
Perhaps that comment gave a glimpse into bad blood between the two CEOs. When asked if he and Jobs had discussed his concerns, Lo said: "Steve Jobs doesn't give me a minute!"
One possible additional inspiration for Lo's outburst: envy. As of Monday morning, Netgear's market capitalization was $1.23bn. Apple's was $310.61bn.
Not that Apple's success has been all that bad for Netgear. Lo noted that the proliferation of Cupertino's "magical and revolutionary" iPad has boosted sales of his company's Universal Wireless Range Extenders.
The reason? At-home iPad fans taking their fondleslabs into the loo. ®
Steve Jobs and Apple aren't the only targets of Lo's scathing critiques. Discussing Windows Phone 7's chance against the dueling iOS and Android juggernauts, Lo said: "Microsoft is over – game over – from my point of view."
Room at the Top
There is more than enough room for both open and closed systems. The world has billions of people.
Jobs, the arrogant but talented ass, is not interested in competing in commodity markets. He markets to, and builds, and designs for, a segment that has high income, is naïve about technology, and that loves feeling fashionable.
Jobs wants the system closed and proprietary so that Apple can control all revenue streams in and out of its devices and his consumers' pockets. And Apple takes a big bite out of every transaction whether it's from AT&T, Verizon, Amazon, Mercedes Benz, Ford, the Wall Street Journal, or Joe's Bait and Tackle. Real Time Money ("RTM") flows, 24/7. What a concept.
Apple has more than 160 million iWhatever users. Over 10 billion (sic) apps have been downloaded from its revolutionary App Store that everyone else is copying. Apple has revenue of about $100 billion per year and profit of $24 billion. That gives Apple one of the highest profit margins in the entire world. Probably higher than cocaine.
I own some Apple stock and would love to get a 5% annual dividend, which the company easily could afford. But I also know how much power Apple's huge cash balances give the company. My questions are: Will the stock price decline as Jobs health declines? Where is Jobs successor?
In defence of Netgear
Netgear unreliable? Plastic? Not in my experience! I have some of their kit on our factory site and have found it extremely reliable and durable. Never had a piece of Netgear kit fail. As for it being "plastic", all my kit is steel-cased and looks and feels like it could stop a .44 round.
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"And how are the shareholders not getting some of the riches?"
Because they don't get dividends, they only get their "riches" when they sell the shares. And once the markets think the share price has peaked, they will want to get out en masse.
He has a point I suppose but I don't see Cisco complaining about closed systems and lots of other multi-million dollar device manufacturers are happy to keep things their way and still turn massive profits. I think Android is far superior to the simplicity of Apple stuff, but that's the geek in me. The high-street shopper in me wants, fast, simple and shiny gadgets like Apple that don't need much effort to use!
No matter how much these people bang about it, in the end the shopper's out there in internet land will decide based on their interests and what their mates have shown them. Apple have cachet, no amount of banging on about Android from geeks like us will really change that. The average phone buyer will go with what they want, regardless of the technical details that we geeks pick at.
I'm not defending Jobs, just looking at things from the average punter's point of view, which in the end is what brings in the green.
Another entry for...
... the Apple Death Knell: