Corporate antibodies: Why Apple is immune

August 24, 2011: 10:29 AM ET

Horace Dediu puts his finger on the difference between Steve Jobs and Léo Apotheker

Attacking a pathogen. Image: Henrik Jonsson via Science Daily

In a wide-ranging rumination that takes its starting point in 2001 -- when HP (HPQ) was courting Compaq and Apple (AAPL) was launching the iPod -- Horace Dediu's Critical Path podcast Tuesday touched on everything from Renaissance painting to the death of the HP TouchPad at the hands of CEO Léo Apotheker.

But for me the heart of the podcast is the five-minute segment that starts at the 31:35 point, when Dediu introduces the concept of corporate antibodies:

In the context of HP, I would point out that these gigantic companies that are built on existing business models could not absorb the changes that were happening. This is why we're seeing these abrupt, illogical, irrational, inexplicable reversals. HP saw the writing on the wall, they saw [the post-PC era] coming and they said OK, we'll spend $1 or $2 billion to get the assets necessary to survive this transition. But you can see how hard it is to internalize that. And you see how it immediately gets rejected.

There's a phrase I like to use: "the corporate antibodies."


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