Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Time Magazine: A brief history of what Apple must do

January 23, 2014: 7:50 AM ET

Why is everybody all in Apple's business?

In 1997, Wired knew what Apple must do.

In 1997, Wired knew what Apple had to do to survive.

FORTUNE --  It's not just that so many industry experts think they know Apple's (AAPL) business better than Apple does, Time's Harry McCracken writes. It's that they feel empowered to state it as an imperative, often right in the headline: "Apple must..."

To illustrate, McCracken has posted a fully linked and mordantly annotated version of the list below, with date of imperative, who made it, what Apple did or didn't do and how that turned out for them.

"Though Apple does frequently respond to industry trends," McCracken writes in his latest Technologizer column, "it's not in the company's nature to do so in precisely the way that everybody expects, and it often bides its time before doing anything at all... In some instances, the things people insist Apple must do — such as make a netbook — are not only not necessities, but terrible ideas."

A brief version of McCracken's brief history:

  • 1985: Apple must open the Mac architecture.
  • 2005: Apple must release the iPhone.
  • 2009: Apple must do a netbook now.
  • 2009: Apple must embrace the online version of Google Voice.
  • 2010: Apple must announce the Verizon iPhone.
  • 2011: Apple must launch NFC in the iPhone 5.
  • 2012: Apple must deliver the iPad Mini.
  • 2013: Apple must make an iPhone with a bigger screen.
  • 2013: Apple must buy Netflix.
  • 2013: Apple must announce touchscreen Mac computers soon.
  • 2013: Apple must fire Tim Cook.

As it turns out, there's a long history of such lists. In 1997, just before Steve Jobs returned to the company, Wired's Jim Daly put together a list of "101 Ways to Save Apple." Some of his prescriptions were things Jobs would never do ("6. Apologize"). Some were prescient:

15. Dump (or outsource) the Newton, eMate, digital cameras, and scanners

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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