FORTUNE -- In the fable, the cottagers are too impatient to wait for the goose to lay its golden eggs one at a time. So they open it up, thinking that way they'll get all the gold at once.
"Here's the problem," he wrote last summer in The Innovator's Curse. "If a company produces a string of successes, the conventional wisdom is that the chances of another success are precisely zero. A company is valued based on its cash flows and foreseeable improvements to them. What it's not valued on is its innovation flows (and foreseeable improvements to them)."
The goose analogy came up again last week in an episode of the Cubed Podcast that brought together three of my favorite mobile industry analysts: Dediu, Benedict Evans and Ben Bajarin.
The problem with Apple's valuation, Bajarin said in Cubed Episode 010: The Process of Innovation, is that the Street thinks Steve Jobs was the goose that laid the Apple II, Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. And now he's dead.
Not so fast, said Evans. Like golden-egg laying, making innovative products is a process, one that Apple worked out three decades ago.
"Apple," he continues, "has always been about product fit and finish and the user experience and not going below a certain level of quality in order to hit price points where there's a market opportunity.
"In the days of the PC industry, the model didn't work because that wasn't how PCs were bought. They were predominantly bought by corporate buyers who wanted 500 with a certain number of features and at a certain price. The computers were going to go under the desk so the buyers didn't care what they looked like. They were never going to be reconfigured after they were bought, so the buyers didn't care what the user experience was.
"So Wintel had market share and Apple didn't.
"We've now come around to the smartphone and the tablet world. Products are bought in line with Apple's values, with the way that Apple tries to make products.
"So part of the reason Apple has been winning for the last 10 years say is that the market came around to where Apple was -- rather than Apple creating out of thin air some amazing product that nobody could have conceived of before."
That rang true to Dediu. Me too.
You can follow Dediu at Asymco.com and The Critical Path. Evans blogs at ben-evans.com. Bajarin is the director of consumer technologies at Creative Strategies and writes for Time.com. Their Twitter handles are @asymco, @benedictevans and @BenBajarin.
Steve Jobs was focused on innovative products. His successor is focused on process.
FORTUNE -- At a Business Insider conference Friday, ex-iPod hardware chief Tony Fadell praised Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook as an innovator.
But he wasn't talking about whizzy new products like the iPhone or iPad. Cook's expertise is in operations -- in the supply chain that produces those iPhones and iPads.
"The number of turns he did on the inventory MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 14, 2013 7:22 AM ET
An active iTunes user generates $48 of revenue per year. A Twitter user, $1.36.
FORTUNE -- Now that Twitter (TWTR) has gone public, we can calculate -- as George Anders has -- that each active Twitter user is worth, by Wall Street's valuation, $110.
So how does Wall Street value Apple's (AAPL) iTunes/iCloud ecosystem? That's harder to say.
"We don't hear much about how Apple is worth so many dollars per user," writes Asymco's MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 11, 2013 6:59 AM ET
At Apple and HP, ad spending is flat as a percent of sales. The others are spending more.
FORTUNE -- Asymco's Horace Dediu on Monday used last week's release of Apple's (AAPL) fiscal 2013 advertising budget to update the fever chart at left and to add a new chart on the right, one that compares advertising expenses as percent of sales. He notes that although by that measure Coca Cola (KO) outspends MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 4, 2013 11:58 AM ET
As sales of smartphones and tablets grew, the PC market shrank.
FORTUNE -- The makers of Microsoft (MSFT) Windows computers can take some comfort in the fact that, as CNN Money's Adrian Covert put it Friday, Macs down, PCs up in the third quarter of 2013.
But take a slightly longer view, as the attached chart does, and things look pretty bleak for the once-mighty Wintel empire.
Windows PC growth rates have been MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Oct 11, 2013 10:17 AM ET
The key, Horace Dediu says, is to think of the iPhone as a data services salesperson.
FORTUNE -- The short answer for why Apple (AAPL) charges so much for its iPhones -- e.g. $549 for the new iPhone 5C that most analysts expected would sell for somewhere between $300 and $400 -- is that it can.
"Anybody would if they could," writes Horace Dediu on his Asmyco blog. "That's a poor question. MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 12, 2013 8:23 AM ET
Horace Dediu estimates that Apple will sell its billionth iOS device some time in 2014.
FORTUNE -- One of the great things about the Race to a Billion chart above, posted Friday on Horace Dediu's Asymco blog, is that it suggests that all computing platforms eventually reach a natural limit, where their growth starts to level off.
PCs running Microsoft (MSFT) Windows were the first reach 1 billion, but because the platform took MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 7, 2013 8:36 AM ET
Also share of mobile revenues and phones shipped, as estimated by Horace Dediu
Click to enlarge.
FORTUNE -- On Wednesday, when we posted Horace Dediu's "fuzzy snapshot" of the worldwide mobile phone market by units shipped, we wondered what the chart would look like if Dediu was graphing instead mobile phone profits.
We didn't have to wait long for an answer. The next day, Dediu's Asymco website offered a multipart graph of the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 22, 2013 7:25 AM ET
Dumb phones in blue, smartphones color-coded by vendor.
FORTUNE -- "Tracking the mobile phone market hasn't been getting any easier," writes Asmyco's Horace Dediu, who does it as well as anyone. "The lack of published data from many incumbents (including the largest) is compounded by the lack of visibility into entrants."
Nonetheless Dediu managed Tuesday to publish what he calls a "fuzzy picture" of the market as measured by unit sales.
If he MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 21, 2013 6:56 AM ET
Remember those headlines about Samsung "dethroning" Apple in profits? Forget them.
FORTUNE -- If anyone can draw a picture that puts to lie Strategy Analytic's claim -- widely reported in the tech press -- that Samsung has become the world's most profitable smartphone vendor, Horace Dediu can.
The chart above was adapted from That Competition Thing, a post on his Asymco.com blog that compared the top and bottom lines of Apple (AAPL), Amazon MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Aug 4, 2013 6:20 AM ET
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