Don't you just hate New Year's resolutions? I mean, who ever keeps them anyway? I made one that I've already broken, but I promise to try again next week. My other resolution is to blog more. I know I don't blog enough to get any real traffic. Hit me if I don't keep this one, OK?
The folks over at TechCrunch were kind enough to offer resolutions for some of our favorite companies. I thought that was amusingly generous of them. The mostly boil down to one thing: Open up dammit. I found some of them interesting and some amusing. So I thought I'd offer my comments about their offered resolutions. All's fair in love and blogging and self-indulgent self-publishing.
Apple: Open up more.
I think Michael Arrington wasn't born yet when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, so I'll add a little ancient history perspective.
Jobs wasn't really planning on staying at Apple long after his return, which was orchestrated by getting rid of then-CEO Gil Amelio and then taking over as "interim CEO, or "iCEO." Jobs, I'm convinced, was plannning on short-term moves to return the company to profitability, become a hero, then take off for Hollywood with Pixar and let the company founder after he left. But he surprised himself, and was more successful than even he expected, reviving the company with iMacs. So he decided to stay and make Apple a Hollywoodish consumer products company.
Now, Jobs is brilliant. He designs outrageously great products, as he is fond of humbly pointing out, and is the greatest marketing genius since P.T. Barnum. But he's a control freak.
Apple's market share has soared, from about 4% of the PC business (as I recall) when Jobs returned, to about 7% now. The company's stock price has skyrocketed.
Big deal. One of the things he did for short-term gains that really hurt Apple's long-term success was to kill the Mac clone business that Amelio had started to implement. Apple would be much bigger, wealthier and more successful if there were Mac clones -- if Jobs were to really open up. I said this in my Upside column at the time it all happened, but now no one will know if I was correct.
Look, people hate Microsoft's operating system. People are uninstalling Vista. If Apple simply licensed its OS to cloners, it could have destroyed Windows XP and Vista would have been stillborn. Jobs argued at the time that profits would have declined because it would make less money off each clone license than off each Mac it sold.
But that assumes the market didn't expand. I would bet that Apple clones would have at least half the PC market by now, there would be many more applications for Apple's OS, and Apple would be selling at least as many self-made Macs as it is today.
I think it's cowardice not to. Jobs is conceding that his own elegant hardware designs could not compete with Mac clones. Nonsense. People who want cheap comptuers would buy Mac clones instead of Windows PCs, and those wanting a truly elegant, integrated device would pay extra for the real thing, although Apple PCs would have to sell at a lower price than they do today.
But with a mix of hardware sales and software licenses, Apple would be more profitable today. Microsoft has 78% gross profit margins and 27% net margins. Apple has 35% gross margins and 15% net margins. Apple's market cap is $158 billion. Microsoft's is $322 billion. Software is simply more profitable than hardware.
Jobs blew it. Open up, guy. Apple is the only closed hardware system on the market. There's a good reason people abandoned the model. 7% market share? Sheesh.
Facebook: Let people take their data from Facbook and use it in other apps and sites.
Also correct. Come on guys, closed systems are a thing of the past and anti-Web culture. If Facebook doesn't do this, others will, and will take its business away. Yahoo has already proved that the walled garden approach does not work.
Google: Go beyond PageRank.
Sorry, TC. Just because you don't know what Google is doing beyond PageRank doesn't mean nothing is being done. Google is way ahead of you on this. The company just chooses not to tell you what algorithms it's using these days. Secretive company, remember?
Amazon: Open up Kindle and let others make the hardware.
No brainer. See Apple comments above. And Amazon hardware isn't even elegant. I don't know if Bezos is smart enough to take the advice, but I think he is.
Microsoft: Get serious about Webtop apps.
Well, the company is trying. But it's hard for a company with a huge, profitable legacy business to change, and Microsoft is probably the best in the world at adapting. To Google, the internet is the primary platform, the PC an adjunct. In Microsoft's view, it's the other way around. The company has to try to distinguish its strategy some way, and hoping its desktop leverage will still help. It won't, but it will take Microsoft a while to find out. Then it will change.
Yahoo: Use the traffic and stop trying to keep everyone inside the walled garden.
Right on, but it won't happen. Yahoo still thinks it can be a content company and monetize it by sending people to that content. Wrong. No single publisher can offer all the best content. People want to get the best. And Yahoo hasn't learned that content is a notoriously unprofitable business unless you have monopoly status. But content monopolies are being destroyed by the internet, and the only successful ad strategy is to sell ads around content that you don't own.
To that I'll add that Yahoo still refuses to admit that only relevant ads make big profits online. But then, most online publications refuse to admit it as well. Too much junk, too many irrelevant pop-ups. Yahoo still gives preference to the highest ad bidders, even though nobody clicks on them. Read my clicks: It doesn't work!
eBay: Sell Skype.
It will. This year.
Thanks to TC for making promises for others. Think I can try that on my relatives?