Apple yesterday saw its shares drop 6.4 per cent, resulting in its worst trading day in four years, but, in a CNBC interview this week, Sculley suggests that the company’s success will improve with a six-monthly product cycle.
“I think they’re going through a very significant change now in terms of product cycles,” explained Sculley, who was in charge of Apple between 1985 and 1993 while the late co-founder Steve Jobs was working at NeXT.
“Traditionally Apple introduces products once a year; now it’s really introducing products twice a year. The complexity of that from a supply chain is immense, and Apple seems to be doing it well,” Sculley continued.
Apple recently surprised consumers by launching its fourth-generation iPad just seven months after its predecessor, which left iPad 3 owners feeling a bit cheated. But it looks like this could be the future for Apple, with analysts predicting an iPhone 6 or 5S arrival early next year, and then another iPhone launch in late 2013.
“I think that people are underestimating just how well Apple is run, and just how successful the company can be when it gets to that twice- a-year introduction cycle,” Sculley concluded.
Sculley is still holding on to his Apple stocks, despite their worrying decline in value.
“I see a company that has always been able to define the future and products that it can create that captures people’s imagination. Steve is the one who’s done that from the beginning. He left a tremendous legacy,” he said.
“If Steve Jobs had left the company four years ago, the company might be in a very different situation than it is today. The question is: Does it still deserve a Steve Jobs premium?” Sculley asked.
He seems to think so: “Steve Jobs lived in a world of black and white, no compromises, perfectionist. He believed that you had to keep pushing the edges of innovation, and Apple is still doing that.”
Sculley thinks that Apple has a few years left in which it will be able to expand on its existing product line-up as it has with its iPad mini, and is rumoured to be doing with its iPhone by adding a cheaper, smaller model to the range, but said, “at some point, it’s got to do something beyond that.”
As for Apple’s management, Sculley praised the company’s current CEO Tim Cook and newly promoted product chief Sir Jony Ive.
“You’ve got to have clarity, you’ve got to have somebody making clear decisions. Apple has that now with Jony Ive,” he said, adding that he thinks Cook is “exactly the right CEO for Apple because he is able to build the respect of a team, and if he didn’t have a product leader, then he’d have a tough time at the company.”
Sculley did note that South Korean competitor Samsung is one to watch for Apple.
“Microsoft is way behind the ball, and we don’t know if they can get to that twice-a-year introduction cycle that Apple and Samsung have,” he said. “Samsung today is an extraordinary company in terms of products and in terms of marketing. It’s a much better marketer than Microsoft is, and it’s got much better products than anyone except Apple, so I’d be watching Samsung.”
“You really need a great competitor out there to keep you going,” he added.