You remember the famous Secret Diary of Steve Jobs aka Fake Steve Jobs aka FSJ blog? It was started by the Newsweek tech editor Dan Lyons, who took it down after it became clear that SJ is terminally ill.
Dan's identity remained a secret for a long time, and provided us with an endless stream of hilarious posts, which were as serious about the happenings in the Silicon Valley, as they were entertaining, Onion-style.
Well, Dan Lyons came up with a big editorial today, and it is not for the faint of heart Apple fans. Basically he dissects the year during which Steve Jobs is no longer running Apple, and concludes that, while doing great financially, Cupertino needs to step up its game productwise. Here are some notable quotes from his opinion piece:
Now, having had two years to plot and scheme, Apple's renowned designer Jonathan Ive has replaced the tiny 3.5in (8.9cm) screen with a slightly-less-tiny 4in (10.2cm) screen? Wow. Knock me over with a feather. What do you do with the rest of your time, Jony?
This is what happens when a company is too cheap to invest in research and development. Did you know that Apple spends far less on R&D than any of its rivals - a paltry 2% of revenues, versus 14% for Google and Microsoft?
No wonder the Android platform, where new models appear every week, now represents 68% of the smartphone market, up from 47% a year ago, while Apple slid to 17% over the same period.
In case you're bad at maths, let me work that out for you: Android's market share is now four times that of Apple. Four times!
Worse, despite all its bluster about innovation, Apple has become a copycat, and not even a good one. Why is Apple making the iPhone bigger? To keep up with the top Android phones. Phones that, mind you, Apple fanboys ridiculed at first...
Apple got where it was by taking bold risks. Now it has become a company that copies others and plays it safe.
A company that once was run by a product visionary now is run by a number-cruncher - chief executive Tim Cook, whose claim to fame involves running an efficient supply chain and beating ever lower prices out of Asian subcontractors and component suppliers.
To use a car analogy, six years ago the iPhone was like a sexy new flagship model from BMW or Porsche. Today it's a Toyota Camry. Safe, reliable, boring. The car your mom drives. The car that's so popular that its maker doesn't dare mess with the formula.
Apple seems less interested in blowing people away than it is in milking profit out of the existing lineup. At this Cook is doing marvellously well...
That's great for Apple's shareholders. But for customers, who cares? In terms of products, Apple has become the one thing it should never be. Apple has become boring.
Somewhere up there, I can hear Steve screaming.
Of course, it's quite premature to judge anything before it has been even announced, and Apple's stock keeps hitting new highs, with analysts predicting record sales and bottomline contribution for the new 4G iPhone. It is also true that this is the season when Apple will face the stiffest smartphone competition it has ever encountered, so what do you think?
Will the new iPhone boost Apple's market share significantly like with every previous iPhone launch, and will it regain the lost ground against Samsung and Android like last year, or "this time will be different"?