back to article PEAK Apple: Cupertino's hopes died with Steve Jobs, says Larry Ellison

Oracle supremo Larry Ellison has told Apple that it doesn't stand a chance of success without Steve Jobs at the helm. In an interview with CBS, the multibillionaire performed a bizarre dance routine meant to illustrate what chance Apple has in the post-Jobs era. Just like the oracles of old, Ellison's predictions take a bit of …

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  1. Steve Todd
    Stop

    Even when Jobs was at the helm

    You didn't get major new products every year. The run rate was about 1 major new product every 3 or more years. Where did this idea come from that they have to reinvent everything every year?

    1. Tom 35

      they have to reinvent everything every year?

      I think they call it the stock market where rich greedy bastards that like to call them selves inventors demand constant growth or they start yelling "give me all the cash".

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Even when Jobs was at the helm

      You don't need (or even want) new products all the time when people are buying what you've already got at really great margins. Too broad a product offering has killed more companies than a lack of innovation.

      Jobs can be compared to a great band manager: He kept a bunch of egos and geniuses focused and producing. He wasn't great by himself, and neither are the people he worked with. They all needed each other and Ellison is right, without someone like Jobs Apple is doomed to go back to high priced mediocrity .

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Don Jefe 12:18

        You don't need (or even want) new products all the time when people are buying what you've already got at really great margins.

        ----

        Too many companies have lost out because they were afraid of cannibalizing their own products, and let someone else do it instead. Apple isn't afraid of doing so (iPhone cannibalized the iPod, the iPad Mini cannibalized sales of the regular iPad, etc.)

        Sometimes however, there isn't anything out there to a cannibalize a market. Smartphones are like that now. The only "must have" features in a smartphone these days are a touchscreen, a full browser, ability to run apps, a GPS for mapping, and obviously phone functionality. Apple may have been the first to put all those pieces together in a single phone, but all those pieces have been around since before the iPhone.

        In the 8? 10? years since there have been no new killer features for smartphones. So there's really nothing to cannibalize sales, it is all a matter of preference - do you like or dislike Apple's walled garden? Do you want a bigger screen? Etc. People complain Apple isn't innovating in smartphones, but neither is anyone else. No one has come up with a product that obsoletes the iPhone and other current phones in the way the iPhone obsoleted the smartphones that came before it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Really

      Now that Johnathan Ive has more control the products will probably be better than ever. Remember the British are the architects and designers of the world, we bring in the concepts and ideas. The Americans are just good at mass producing them.

      1. Ralph B

        Re: Really

        > Remember the British are the architects and designers of the world

        Sure. And if Sir Jonny Ive neverless needs some help, he can always call on the Great British talents of Sir Clive Sinclair and/or Sir Alan Sugar.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: Really

          Isn't it more simply that the frequency of new products should be inversely proportional to how far ahead of the pack those products and their features put you (ie how many years it takes the rest to catch up)?

          Revolutions are by definition larger steps down the road than evolutions are.

        2. FartingHippo
          Thumb Up

          Re: Really

          "he can always call on the Great British talents of Sir Clive Sinclair"

          My favourite thing about Clive is that he's married to an ex-lap dancer 35 years younger than he is. And why not; after all, you can't take it with you :)

          1. MrXavia

            Re: Really

            Sinclair was brilliant, he was ahead of his time, the C5 had potential, just was ahead of tis time..

            Alan Sugar, bit of a dick I think, but still the Amstrads were great for many places such as schools where I was exposed to them...

      2. Don Jefe

        Re: Really

        There are good designers, and products, in Britian, but there aren't many good salesmen. The Canadians have the same problem. I suppose it is a culture thing but the lack of salesmanship is as much responsible for the lack of tech coming out of Britian (and Canada) as any other factor. The gretest products in the world still have to be sold and mediocre products have to be sold better. Jobs had sales skills.

      3. Armando 123

        Re: Really

        This from the people who gave us the Morris Marina. And other great British Leyland designs.

        And reality tv.

        I like Ive's designs, but don't extrapolate a national character from one ex-pat's success.

        1. CmdrX3
          FAIL

          Re: Really

          "This from the people who gave us the Morris Marina. And other great British Leyland designs."

          They are also the people who gave you the Aston Martin, Jaguar, Noble, Lotus, Rolls Royce, McLaren..... and other great British designs.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Ellison should be careful what he says

    Oracle has just about destroyed all the promises made when it took over SUN.

    Dare we say 'Peak Oracle' has passed even with LE at the helm?

    Now Oracle purchases orders are signed off with the same gritted teeth as those for Microsoft.

    Unbreakable Linux, don't make me laugh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ellison should be careful what he says

      Don't even start on what Ellison is doing to MySQL ...

    2. Amorous Cowherder
      Pint

      Re: Ellison should be careful what he says

      Ellison is a bit of nutter and most of what he says is pure fluff but once in a while he does come up with something interesting. He was the guy that 25 years ago said one day we'd have network connected devices attached to huge servers, we'd have no need for as many big machines in our homes and offices.

      Well the explosion of tablets and phones connected the internet and it's "cloudy" storage is quite popular these days.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ellison was Jos's mate so not sure he is completely impartial - he should trust that Steve Jobs built a team of capable people to take over. Steve Jobs was a big part of Apple but it's unfair to everyone else there to say he 'was' Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe not

      Jobs just may have indeed "been Apple".

      Jobs was barely an "inventor", using the classic definition of the term. The iPad? Wow, what a great leap of imagination from creating an implementation of ST:TNG's PADD device, including the shape! What brilliance! [/s]

      But what Jobs did was create....arrogance. Apple right now is doing what all modern American corporations are doing: paying strict attention to shareholder earnings by making products with a lowest common denominator, trying to alienate no one with middle of the road mediocrity. Jobs simply didn't care - he believed in himself so much (a level of arrogance, really) that he had the company make what he wanted and felt the market would move toward his view, bringing profits along with him.

      I guess that makes him an [I]innovator[/I] mostly of style and form, rather than an "inventor" of the truly new. Jobs did not create much "new", but the brought ideas that he saw refined to the masses.

      Apple right now is run by typical bean counters worried about profits, as is typical with unimaginative American graduate business majors - go where the market tells you, rather than try to lead a market yourself. If anything, that will be Apple's downfall.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Maybe not

        I think what Jobs had was vision. He had the vision to see that a tablet computer should be different to a desktop / laptop computer. It should have big icons arranged in a grid, only show one program on screen at a time and so on. Of course he relied on other people to turn that into reality, but while the iPad / Android style UI may seem obvious now, nobody else saw it before he did.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Maybe not

          "but while the iPad / Android style UI may seem obvious now, nobody else saw it before he did"

          With respect, I don't believe that for a moment. It is almost to the level of rubbish.

          Really, all the iPad / Android interface is, is a "slenderized" version of the Mac-style desktop, without windows. There was no room for windows so icons only. The icons had to be both touch-sensitive and organized on a small screen, so boxing them in and lining them up simply made sense. Touching an icon opened up the program - the window - but, on a small screen, the "window" had to occupy the entire screen.

          Voila. You have a modern smartphone interface paradigm. WinMo had icons in menu trays for YEARS before Apple did, and Palm went even further back than that! Apple simply cleaned it up and made it prettier. The paradigm was out already. To believe that Apple created the touchscreen interface paradigm is typical Reality Distortion Field.

          1. RaidOne
            Megaphone

            Re: Maybe not

            You are right, first I have seen the icon field was Windows 3.0, 20 years ago.

            1. sleepy

              Re: Maybe not

              "You are right, first I have seen the icon field was Windows 3.0, 20 years ago."

              So you didn't notice the Mac, 29 years ago?

        2. Irongut Silver badge

          Re: Maybe not

          Nobody saw it before he did? LOL

          Ever seen PalmOS? Big icons, arranged in a grid and only one application open at a time. That grand vision you trumpeted was thought of years before.

          Jobs was nothing but a copy cat and a great salesman.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Maybe not

        While I think Jobs is very overrated, I don't begrudge him the title inventor. Until he did the iPod, nobody had a digital portable song player that grabbed attention. Same thing with the iPad. And for all that he stole ideas for Xerox, they not only let him do it they shoved more stuff into his mitts as he was leaving. He knew what they had and what to do with it even when they didn't. Not all of them were "design patents" some of them were important engineering choices. And I expect the early Apple work did involve some actual patents. Gates may have created the commodity market, but I'll give Jobs (and Woz) props for their contributions in creating the market in the first place.

  4. Paul Hunter

    It's all gone a bit Princess Di

    "He was brilliant, he was our Edison, he was our Picasso. He was an incredible inventor."

    Is he taking the p1ss?

    Not trolling (OK, maybe a *tiny* bit) but did Jobs himself actually invent anything? (Having a patent isn't the same as having invented something, obv.)

    1. hplasm
      Happy

      Re: It's all gone a bit Princess Di

      Edison stole quite a lot of his 'inventions' and Picasso may have seen people in a very strange way...

      So perhaps he is right, in a manner of speaking.

      1. h3

        Re: It's all gone a bit Princess Di

        Jobs has something in common with Edison in that he held everybody else back. (Tesla was the real visionary).

        Don't know much about Picasso other than he wasn't Leonado Da Vinci.

    2. Busby

      Re: It's all gone a bit Princess Di

      Agree completely, guy deserves a great deal of respect for what he achieved. Undoubtedly great at marketing to the masses.

      However does taking a lot of other products and combining the features in an easy to use way count as invention? Just sometimes feel the hype for Jobs has gone way beyond what he earned. Hate to see him called a visionary as I just dont think its true.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: It's all gone a bit Princess Di

        > does taking a lot of other products and combining the features in an easy to use way count as invention?

        If done right, it's a lot more useful than mere invention. The key thing is not necessarily to invent new things but to find new ways of using and combining existing stuff. Jobs' genius was to get to the essence of a device and combine that with a clear vision for the design and how it would be used. He (or rather, the team he built) was able to clear a lot of the clutter from existing "stuff" and make products that just worked.

        Sure, there was / is the evil side to Apple: patents, restrictions on use and interoperability. However that doesn't take away SJ's biggest contribution which gave us a better quality and higher expectations.

        Oh, and from a horticultural point of view, doesn't Peak Apple occur just before it falls off the tree?

    3. Grikath

      Re: It's all gone a bit Princess Di

      Jobs and Edison are indeed comparable. After all, it was Edison who perfected the modern labaratory setup, so he could get his hands on their ideas, patent, and market them. Jobs merely copied that, applied to modern tech.

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: It's all gone a bit Princess Di

        No. I don't see it that way.

        Jobs' impact is HIGHLY overrated due to his cult of personality. In REAL terms, in the terms of what he actually accomplished and his input into the devices sold, Jobs was a stylist. Jobs was at the level of Henry Dreyfuss, but since most people don't even know who that was or the level of impact Dreyfuss' designs had on modern society, they have no frame of reference to properly classify Jobs' skills. So they tag him as "inventor" rather than his proper designation as "designer and salesman" - he personally did not build not electrically design a single product, but he personally oversaw the physical and operational attributes of all the products his company came out with.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: - he personally did not build not electrically design a single product

          in the headlines which are grabbing our attention these days you are correct.

          By my memory is longer than the current internet memes (or as some one once put it "10 minutes ago"). He and Woz designed, built, and yes soldered many a circuit board in the early days working out of their garage. So like I said, very overrated, but not a complete sham.

    4. ItsNotMe

      Re: It's all gone a bit Princess Di

      Actually the comparison of Jobs to Edison is quite ironic.

      Very little of what is credited to Edison was actually INVENTED by Edison. In reality, it was the workers in his labs that came up with most of it...he just took the credit for it.

      1. Don Jefe
        Stop

        Re: It's all gone a bit Princess Di

        Edison was a Class A knob-gobbling thief and the original patent troll. The only reason the motion picture industry ever setup in Hollywood was because Edison was viciously attacking the movie people in court over IP issues. The entire industry moved as far away as it could possibly get, just to put distance between them and make it cost too much to pursue them.

        Edison and his 'Invention Factory' was the forerunner of the modern IP house with more lawyers and paid for judges on the payroll than hands-on workers. So you can thank Edison the next time someone lobs a stupid sueball at your favorite tech company.

        Boo, down with Edison fandom!

  5. Evil Auditor

    iWatch

    a device that is hardly guaranteed success

    Like Ellison and many others I have, for some or the other reason, doubts about Apple's future success with or without iWatch. Then again hardly any new product is guaranteed success, with the constraint that a strong brand, such as Apple, does indeed make success more likely.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never have a seen a better example

    Of the talent myth in action.

  7. jai

    poor comparison

    the Apple of the 90's is not the Apple we have now.

    and Tim Cook is certainly not John Scully.

    the only thing that's the same between the Apple of the 90s and the Apple of today is that Jobs isn't running it. Everything else about the two moments in time is different. And for someone like Ellison, whom so many people seem to hold in high regard, not to realise that, is rather telling.

    I suspect he knew that was the only way he'd get any headline action. Nobody reports the uncontroversial any more. Peak Apple? Peak journalism more like.

    1. James Gosling

      Public pains

      Right now Apple would be better of as a private company, rather than floated on the stock exchange. Being public they will be hounded by the markets to increase profits and cut costs every 3 months, not to mention creating killer products. Is that realistic, I think not! It's been the killer of many an IT giant.

  8. johnnymotel

    This always makes me chuckle: “The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison: God Doesn’t Think He’s Larry Ellison”

  9. Frankee Llonnygog

    Can't think why Ellison would be interested ....

    ... in touting the myth that a company can only be successfully run by a single messianic individual.

  10. envmod

    clive sinclair is awesome

    that is all.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait!

    If Jobs was our Edison - where is the modern day Tesla? We need to find him and set up him right!

    1. MrXavia
      Thumb Up

      Steve Jobs probably had him locked away somewhere fixing a problem for him on the promise of $1,000,000 and then kicked him out penniless when he fixed the problem...

      Tesla was a great man, but not treated right!

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  13. Tom 13

    Hmmm.....

    I've long thought without Jobs Apple did face a PEAK situation.

    Now that I find Ellison in my camp, I need to triple check my initial evaluations.

  14. MrXavia

    Edison = A man who made his money off of other peoples ideas, ripping them off where possible, sounds like a good comparison..

    Picasso = An amazing creative person, famous for his paintings mostly... Not a very good comparison, Jobs created rounded rectangles.....

    Now I won't discount Jobs's eye on the market, he saw the right time for the iPod, and then again with the iPhone.. sure the iPhone was crap, but he did sell them and help create a market where all phones are now touch screen...

  15. Jonathan 29

    history revisionism

    Jobs was fired or demoted at least because he was disruptive, disliked and the products he took sole control over were not selling particularly well compared to the PC. Apple may well have gone bankrupt if the board had chosen Jobs over Sculley. As it was Sculley delivered some decent products and strong growth.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: history revisionism

      Yeah, and then their stock tanked to the point that Nokia and Blackberry look like good investments by comparison.

      Like I said above, I might personally despise the man, but I recognize he did save the company.

    2. sleepy

      Re: history revisionism

      It was also Scully who licensed the Mac UI to Microsoft in exchange for Excel on Mac for two years. Apple was able to stop everyone but Microsoft copying the Mac, and the result was the bootstrapping of IBM's market position into the Wintel monopoly. And it was Scully who set the price of Macintosh a thousand dollars higher than it needed to be, creating a price umbrella under which Wintel could flourish.

  16. PaulR79
    Trollface

    "The Oracle was asked what he thought of Jobs, to which he replied: "He was brilliant, he was our Edison,"

    He was "our Edison"? That explains all the idea stealing and trying to make competitors products look bad in any way possible.

  17. Mage Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Ives an innovative Designer To Save Apple?

    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/apple-design-doesnt-fall-far-from-brauns-tree-176668

    http://visual.ly/braun-or-apple

    Ives admits being inspired by Dieter Rams' Braun Products.

    http://blog.needsupply.com/2013/06/16/dieter-rams/

    Jobs was fantastic Charismatic marketeer. Very much like Edison. Who didn't invent the Light Bulb and insisted DC mains was better than AC mains. Nor did Edison invent Cinema, though he claimed no-one could do it with out his Patents.

    Maybe even if Jobs was still with us Apple would be close to "peak". There is a limit to how many times Apple can do what they have done. Ives on his own plagiarising 1950s & 1960s Braun/Rams can't save Apple.

    What actually have they innovated rather than successfully marketed? Not the iPhone HW, nor its OS. Similar GUI did exist on prior niche products. The capacitive gesture GUI was slickly implemented. Is that innovation or just doing prior art better? In the 1980s the industry wanted handwriting recognition and ability to sketch / annotate rather than browse menus & content, hence they decided to use resistive rather than capacitive input (both existed!) for much greater accuracy. The best solution is to have both.

    We may not be quite at Peak Apple, but even with Jobs the future might not be much different.

  18. Peter 39

    and by implication ...

    And by implication, Oracle is toast once Larry snuffs it. Right?

    Just so we all understand.

    Miracles performed. Film at 11.

  19. Peter 39

    main difference

    A crucial difference is that Steve Jobs knew he was mortal. He planned for it, and set up Apple for when he would be gone.

    Larry, on the other hand, seems to believe he's immortal. That does not bode well for Oracle.

  20. Mikel

    Larry is charity buds with Bill Gates

    He's still steaming about that whole Android/Java lawsuit he took the short end of too.

    Larry Ellison is going to hate on Android and Apple for reasons having nothing to do with the quality of their efforts. In this regard he's best ignored. Sour grapes.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does Larry Ellison remind me so much of the character of Justin Hammer in the Iron Man 2 movie?

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