Apple Doomed to End Up Like Sony, Says Forrester CEO

Photograph by Commercial Eye

Forrester Research CEO George Colony said that without Steve Jobs at the helm, Apple will 'coast and then decelerate.'

As analysts, investors and other pundits try to out-superlative one another talking about Apple’s second-quarter results from yesterday, the CEO of one of the leading market research firms used the event as an opportunity to warn that the iPhone maker is doomed to mediocrity.

In a blog post pitched today by his spokesman as “something provocative,” Forrester Research CEO George Colony said that without co-founder Steve Jobs at the helm, Apple will “coast and then decelerate.” The arguments mirror those many people made after Jobs’s death in October.

Colony’s reasoning is that without Jobs’s charisma, design vision and ability to take big risks, Apple will end up like Sony, a rudderless organization that will have a long, painful decline. As a reminder, Sony was worth more than $120 billion in 2000 and is now valued at $16.4 billion. Ouch.

Forrester’s chief said Apple’s board should have found another charismatic leader to replace Jobs instead of Tim Cook, whom he described as “proven and competent.”

For Apple, that’s not a good thing, Colony argued:

“His legal/bureaucratic approach will prove to be a miss-match for an organization that feeds off the gift of grace.”

A better choice may have been Apple design chief Jony Ive or software head Scott Forstall, even though Colony said he doesn’t know them personally.

“Without the arrival of a new charismatic leader it will move from being a great company to being a good company, with a commensurate step down in revenue growth and product innovation,” Colony said.

We’ll have to wait to see if he’s right. Colony said the slide to mediocrity will take two to four years.

In the meantime, after reporting profit almost doubled yesterday, Apple’s stock rose more than 10 percent earlier today, the biggest jump in more than three years.


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