Apple Computer had a great streak going, and for a while it seemed like the company could do no wrong. But more recently they have had a few “… honey I shrunk the kids” episodes that suggest things are not perfect in Jobsland USA.
So what’s up? In my humble opinion the problem is a moderate case of “projectitis” (a WEO term) —- to many parallel projects and too few top level managers to run them in a synchronized way. They have stretched the brand beyond the point where the core management group can cope. The more sophisticated way to express this “too many Indans. Not enough cowboys”.
A quick aside - A more severe case of this erupted at Daimler when Jurgen Schrempf thought it would be easy to run Chrysler, and in trying to turn it around depleted the talent pool at Mercedes.
Check out this e mail from Steve Jobs to his crew, discussing their latest screw up with the launch of “MobileMe”. Notice the announced shift in delegated mangement authority
“… One step that I can share with you today is that the MobileMe team will now report to Eddy Cue, who will lead all of our internet services – iTunes, the App Store and, starting today, MobileMe. Eddy’s new title will be Vice President, Internet Services and he will now report directly to me.
Hmmmmmm….. Ok Eddy! Good luck! And keep in mind that Steve is a bit prickly! My take is that Apple will not be able to easily correct this problem because Stevey cannot clone himself. Methinks he is pushing the company a tad too hard.
FOLLOW - For those interested in the technical side of the Apple problem with MobileMe, check out GigaOm. Om Malik offers his take on this — Apple has not yet figured out how to offer a wide range of internet based services. Interesting.