Apple + Twitter = Mistake
Recent rumors have Apple in discussions to buy Twitter. If Steve Jobs is listening – STOP – DON’T DO IT!
Anyone who knows me knows that to say I’m a huge fan of Apple would be an understatement. Only Bruce Springsteen ranks higher on my raving fan ladder. I regularly use Apple as an example for how a company creates a Demand Creation Monopoly. The key to Demand Creation is focus, and so far as I can tell an acquisition of Twitter feels like it could only be a distraction. On the surface Apple has violated several rules of focus. Al Ries, in his recent book War in the Boardroom: Why Left-Brain Management and Right-Brain Marketing Don’t See Eye-to-Eye–and What to Do About It (which I highly recommend) takes Apple to task for this.
I’ve always disagreed with comments like this. I’ve felt that Apple’s focus has been on serving their core customer and making connections where they didn’t exist (computers to MP3 players to phones to stores). Recently when I took Starbucks to task, I bragged how Steve Jobs, when faced with a similar turnaround, told the world that Apple would get bigger by first getting smaller and then it would only grow from its core. A purchase of Twitter doesn’t follow this philosophy – it has nothing to do with Apple’s core customers or core value proposition. While Apple advocates certainly use Twitter (and for all I know, they be heavy users of Twitter), I just don’t see how it would align with what Apple fans desire from Apple.
The article about the rumor points out that one reason for this may be that Apple reportedly has $30 billion in cash built up and they need to do something with it. If buying Twitter is the best thing it can do with the money, then Apple may be saying that it’s run out of exciting things to create; and if that’s the case this may mark a precipitous decline for Apple (I hope not). Another reason for this may be that Apple is falling victim to its sins from the Jobs’ first go around – hubris. If they believe “they” can do anything, that is a clear sign of danger. I’m worried that Apple is getting bored. Whenver a company gets bored with its current playground trouble awaits. It’s a major obstacle for any creative executive, and it had been the cause of death of myriad small and mid-market companies.
It is my hope that this is just a rumor and that Apple will come to its senses and refocus on its core. If it turns out to be true, we will all be able to watch the unfolding of a case study.