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Don't worry about Apple's business, worry about its products

David Sparks | Feb. 15, 2013
Many longtime Apple fans may still be scarred by the era of Apple's struggles, says David Sparks. But they're worrying about the wrong thing.

There has been a lot of news lately about Apple's business and the company's often-predicted fall from grace. Suddenly, the Apple community has been inundated with news of falling stock prices, adverse court rulings, and highly detailed market-share analyses. As enthusiastic Apple customers, a lot of us read this stuff and fret. Why is that?

I suspect this phenomenon is not nearly so prevalent among people who enjoy Microsoft or Samsung products. Microsoft's stock has been flat for years, and very few Windows Phone 8 enthusiasts care about the company's share price. I'd argue that the reason Apple business-related news pushes our buttons is that a significant percentage of the Apple community lives in a culture of fear.

The dark ages

If you've been using Apple products long enough, you remember a time in the late 1990s when the company was on the ropes. The news wasn't about whether Apple would get broken up and sold off in pieces, but rather who would be doing the buying when the inevitable happened. Things were dire. Apple had lost its way and everybody knew it. As much fun as we had taking shots at Michael Dell (especially in light of the recent privatization of his own company) when he famously advised Apple to "give the money back to the shareholders," it was a reasonable argument at the time.

Apple's business was our business--not because we had some stake in the company, but because we'd grown to love Apple products, and if Apple went away, so would our Macs. Nobody liked the idea and everybody worried about it. That experience left an imprint on us as a community. It is similar to people who grew up in the Great Depression and, as adults, couldn't resist stuffing $100 bills into their mattresses, just in case. (I'd even argue that those tough years also left an imprint on Apple itself; just look at the way the company hoards its cash reserves now that it's successful again.)

The thing is, Apple is no longer on the chopping block. Indeed, with over $130 billion in the bank, the situation is quite the opposite. That's $130,000,000,000. Ten zeroes. This amount of money is unfathomable. Just to give you an idea, Apple could spend $1 million a day for 356 years and not run out of cash. Apple could use its cash to buy a new $500 iPad for 260 million people (and that's without giving itself a discount). Apple's stock value is more than the GNP of many countries. Apple's market cap is about the same as that of Google and Microsoft combined. As indicated by Apple's ridiculous profits, the company is in good hands, with very smart people at the helm.


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