Dirk Knemeyer

Apple’s Watch Signals Decay of the Company, March 10, 2015

More than anything, [the watch] signals the demise of Apple from the standpoint of being a real innovator. Of offering a trailblazing sort of unique solution in the personal computing space. The iWatch is their biggest announcement, the thing they’ve beaten the drum on the hardest since the iPad. What was the iPad, 2010? It’s been five years. They basically had no big announcements.

This one, this is the product that they’re really hanging their hat on. All of the hierarchy is genuflecting and acting like this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s a really bad sign.

Again, I’m sure from a financial perspective, they’re still going to keep selling products hand-over-fist, but what we’re seeing is the real erosion of their position as the leader. Five to ten years ago whenever I would be in a meeting with a potential client, not everyone but most of them ostensibly, they’d say, “We want to be like Apple. We want our stuff to be like Apple stuff.”

Those days are going fast and there’s no sign of them coming back. At the same time, we’re seeing really interesting new things from Amazon, from Google, from some other companies. The things that are more likely to draw attention aren’t coming from Apple. They’re coming from other places which is concerning.

I expect the next big thing to come from, frankly, Amazon or Google. I think those are the two big ones.

Another problem with it too which flows out of what you just said is that the average person can afford it. One thing that, in the past, I liked about being an Apple user along with their great innovation was not everybody have their stuff. I’m increasingly shocked as I go through the world how so many people of all income brackets, of all levels of the socioeconomic strata are carrying around iPhones despite the expense of the device and/or despite the expense of the carrier plan.

That’s not going to be the case with the iWatch and the problem that they have is now they’re catering to presumably just more wealthy people. Watches like that market has a lot of really gorgeous high end well designed stuff. By comparison that the iWatch is a really clumsy, hacky thing.

I guess maybe they can hope that wealthy people want to differentiate themselves against the masses by being the once who are mobile computing with an iWatch as oppose to an iPhone, but if that’s the bet they’re taking, that’s a long one indeed.

Apple and the Transportation Industry, February 19, 2015

It raises really interesting questions about what the biggest most powerful business conglomerates are going to look like in 20 or 30 years. If Google is correct, then the top tech companies, the Google, the Apple, Amazon, companies like that are going to be in the transportation business. I’m not sure yet if that will be the case. I think it’s very possible.

Apple, because they have so much cash, they need to, in trying to keep up with Google, be involved in that business. They need to be paying attention to it, they need to be making investments. They don’t have a choice, because if things fall in a certain way, and if they’re the ones on the outside looking in, it won’t be pretty for them. Now Apple has so much money, they’re in a position where in theory they could pass on it and things could move forward and they could be left behind and they could just go out and buy General Motors or some major automotive company and close the gap and get back in the game. They have that luxury.

The very fact that they’re the follower, the very fact that Google is the one kind of out there already. Apple’s not there, maybe they’re heading there. Maybe they’ll miss the boat and have to buy into it later is ominous, because Apple’s success over the last … I don’t know when the iPhone or the iPod rather was first released, but over the last 15 or 20 years it’s been about being ahead. It’s been about pioneering and opening and as we’ve talked about they’re falling behind. That brand is becoming less and less what Apple’s about.

The Apple of 2015 is more like Microsoft of 1995 in a lot of different ways. That’s not the Apple that we’ve come to know, and for many people love, from the 1970′s until the mid-2000′s. I don’t know what Apple’s going to do. I think that they probably should be dabbling at a minimum and thinking about the future. The future may be one where the top technology companies are also the primary transportation companies. There’s a lot of good reasons why that should be the case. I mean if I were Tim Cook, I would be investing intelligently in transportation.

The Next Lifestyle Brand Leader, December 28, 2014

I think that in 2015 that some other company will replace Apple as the preferred, trendy lifestyle brand. Apple, ever since the death of Steve Jobs, they really haven’t launched even one exciting product. The most exciting launch was the iWatch, but to me, there’s not a whole lot exciting about the iWatch. It may be a good product. I may end up getting it, even, if the utility seems to be there, but God, it’s not the sort of thing that an iPod or an iPhone or an iPad can do. It was only in that innovation, in that redefinition of categories that Apple was able to really hold that sweet, trendy position. It’s been weakening ever since Steve Jobs died. I’ve talked many times, I’m no big fan of Steve Jobs, but you just can’t deny the impact and the success that he had in leading Apple to the vanguard of innovation, success, and leadership.

Since then, again, Apple has released nothing exciting. The stuff they do is shoddy. The software is crap. The new iPhone with the ridiculous camera that sticks out, it’s not all soft edges. Steve never would have shipped that. The cracks are showing all over the place, and it’s further been complicated by … Since the iPad or even I’d go back farther and say since the iPhone, Apple went from being this thing that just the cool kids knew about and had this cliquey-ness to it, to something that’s just mainstream. The people who are walking around now with iPhones, I’m just shocked. “Wow, that person would never have had an Apple device before.” That contributes to it, too, where now it’s more like Walmart, where before, it was more boutique-ish. There’s all of this erosion on the foundation of Apple.

Because it’s gotten so big from a financial perspective, it’s still going to be the biggest or second biggest or top five or whatever in terms of market cap in the world for awhile, but I think we’ll be able to palpably see some company from a cool perspective replace Apple, whether it be Google or Amazon, those would be some of the two, I think, most obvious candidates. One of those type of companies who are one of the second tier behind Apple right now, from a coolness, from sort of like the best lifestyle brand, the best computing lifestyle brand perspective, it’s going to have a great release. It’s going to string some things together, and the tide is going to change. Momentum is going to shift and we’ll be able to say, “hey, it’s not Apple anymore, it’s this company.” I don’t know what company that will be, but I think the time is right. I think the time is now for that change to happen.