Mixed-reality distortion field: Is Tim Cook’s legacy doomed?

Once again it’s do-or-die time for Apple!

The Financial Times says “Tim Cook bets on Apple’s mixed-reality headset to secure his legacy” (subscription required).

The stakes are high for Cook.

He’s one bad annual review away from glumly having to fill out an application at the Cupertino Best Buy.

The headset will be Apple’s first new computing platform to have been developed entirely under his leadership. The iPhone, iPad and even Watch were all originally conceived under Apple’s co- founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011.

It is obviously true the first two were conceived under Jobs. But was the Watch? The Financial Times doesn’t cite any sources for that assertion, but the first reference to the idea the Macalope can find is from December 2011. Two months after Jobs’ death, four months after he resigned as CEO and 10 months after he’d taken a medical leave of absence, The New York Times claimed a “very small group of Apple employees” were working on a wearable device that would connect to your iPhone.

So… maybe. But even if it was “conceived” under Jobs, which seems to be a pretty big stretch, it was entirely brought to market under Tim Cook.

It must be fun to be Tim Cook and to release the Watch and have everyone crow that the first product released under your tenure is a “flop” and then eight years later after it’s clear it was actually a hit people start saying “Oh, yeah, that was all Steve Jobs.”

The poor guy can’t win! Other than having a lot of money.

Apple’s growth during Cook’s tenure has been spectacular, growing its market capitalisation from around $350bn in 2011 to around $2.4tn today. But despite the twin hit launches of Apple Watch in 2015 and AirPods a year later…

Oh, yeah! AirPods! Were AirPods also conceived under Steve Jobs? Did Jobs leave a pad of paper that he’d filled with random ideas so he could be credited with whatever Apple came up with for the rest of eternity?

“Crank-powered MacBooks. Each sold with an organ grinder monkey.”

“Edible ethernet cables. Call Twizzlers.”

“Had a nightmare where David Packard was putting out cigarettes in my ears. Something there?”

I dunno, that doesn’t seem like him.

…which have helped turn its accessories division into a $41bn business, the company has been accused of iterating on past ideas rather than breaking new ground.



All they make is technology products that use their technology!

Reports seem to indicate the headset will interact with other Apple devices and likely be based on existing software stacks, so look forward to some heavy sighing and eye-rolling soon!

The rest of the article is more staid, however, and The Financial Times at least keeps expectations for sales of the device at a relatively realistic level, as opposed to some of the outlandish expectations that were set for the Watch before its release.

Apple is only expecting to sell around a million units of its headset in its first 12 months…

Before the Watch shipped, some analysts were expecting it to sell 55 million units in the first year. When the Watch debuted, most analysts cut their expectations from bananapants down to simply bananashorts. As The Financial Times shows, the Watch Series 0 ended up selling about 18 million units over the 17 months it was available. A solid start, but not enough to shake the general consensus it was a “flop’ until sales continued to grow steadily year after year.

Given the fact that Apple’s headset is expected to cost somewhere around $3,000 compared to the Watch’s initial starting price of $349, maybe even 1 million units isn’t realistic, either.

Despite the breathless implications that Tim Cook should be polishing his resume if this headset doesn’t sell like virtual hotcakes on day one, the Macalope isn’t terribly worried. We’ve been hearing since before the Watch was released that Apple was “missing out” on AR and VR because its competitors were already shipping! Uh, devices that were basically prototypes.

Is it a big launch for Cook and Apple? Sure. Is it gonna make or break the company or Cook’s legacy? More than the Touch Bar, less than the fact he’s already made Apple a $2.4 trillion company.


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