Tech pundit John C. Dvorak has somehow parlayed a talent for being wrong into a lucrative career as a tech analyst. Dvorak’s tech predictions are usually laughable, misinformed, and completely off-base. Below are some of his gems regarding the iPhone.
In March of 2007, 2 months after Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone, and 3 months before it actually went on sale, Dvorak penned a column titled, “Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone”, with the underlying message being that Apple was risking its reputation in entering a competitive business that it presumably knew nothing about.
The problem here is that while Apple can play the fashion game as well as any company, there is no evidence that it can play it fast enough. These phones go in and out of style so fast that unless Apple has half a dozen variants in the pipeline, its phone, even if immediately successful, will be passé within 3 months.
Passé, huh? 3 months, eh? The reasons why phones, at the time, went in and out of style so fast was precisely because they were crappy devices that were easily replaceable. And contrary to what Dvorak and other pundits tend to believe, the iPod was a success not because it was a fad or a fashion statement or the result of aggressive marketing, but rather because it was a device that worked better than any other MP3 player on the market.
There is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive. Even in the business where it is a clear pioneer, the personal computer, it had to compete with Microsoft and can only sustain a 5% market share.
And its survival in the computer business relies on good margins. Those margins cannot exist in the mobile handset business for more than 15 minutes.
I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising given that Dvorak had this to say about the mouse that accompanied the first Macintosh in 1984:
The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I dont want one of these new fangled devices.
But getting back to the iPhone, Dvorak concludes:
What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a “reference design” and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures.
It should do that immediately before it’s too late. Samsung might be a candidate. Otherwise I’d advise you to cover your eyes. You’re not going to like what you’ll see.
Good call, John.
But wait, there’s more!
A few days after Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, Dvorak popped up on CNBC where he discussed why the iPhone’s touchscreen was a step backwards.
To me, I’m looking at this thing and I think it’s kind of trending against what people are really liking in phones nowadays, which are those little keypads – the BlackJack from Samsung, the BlackBerry obviously, kind of pushes this thing, the Palm… but I think Apple can do wrong and I think this is it.
You can check out a video of that interview below.