Steve Wozniak says Apple should have split up long ago, talks push into services and more ...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 29
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in an interview Tuesday said he believes Apple should have broken off and spun out multiple divisions from its main business "a long time ago," but notes his former company has admirably handled its role as a "big tech" leader.

Woz


Wozniak touched on the issue of breaking up big tech in an interview with Bloomberg Technology's Taylor Riggs.

"I wish Apple on its own had split up a long time ago and split off independent divisions to far away places and let them think independently the way Hewlett-Packard did when I worked there," Wozniak said. "But that's my opinion, it's not like there's not one set of facts that's makes it right. Other people can come to other conclusions. I think big tech has gotten too big, it's too powerful a force in our life and it's taken our choices away."

Concerns over a distillation of power in the tech industry, mainly Google and Facebook, were raised earlier this year and subsequently brought to the fore when presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren announced plans to break up big tech in March. At the time, Warren specifically characterized Apple's ownership and operation of the App Store as anticompetitive.

Calls for inquiry prompted the Department of Justice to launch an antitrust investigation "into the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online." Separate probes into Apple and Google are also being prepared.

In August, the DOJ confirmed state attorneys general are participating in the wide-ranging investigation that in part seeks to determine what effects companies operating large platforms have on consumer pricing, segment innovation and product quality.

As for Apple, Wozniak believes the iPhone maker is doing an admirable job at maintaining what is arguably the world's most lucrative mobile platform.

"I think Apple's the best of the companies for a lot of different reasons; caring about the customers and just making money off of good products, not from tracking you, following you," he said.

Wozniak went on to offer his take on Apple's push into services.

"I'm actually very proud of Apple as a company because of the fact that we have been able to transition," Wozniak said. "We started with the name 'Apple Computer,' and then as we moved into products that were more personal in nature like iPods and iPhones, we dropped the 'Computer' from our name. And being flexible, being able to shift with the demands of the market is very important for a modern ongoing company that's really going to make it."

Apple has over the past few years placed an increasing emphasis on services like Apple Music, iCloud, Apple TV and, more recently, Apple News. Leaning on a massive install base, the company has seen services revenue skyrocket, reaching $11.5 billion at the end of the June quarter.

"So moving into services, if that's where a lot of the business is -- Apple's a huge company, [it] can only move in directions that are very large in dollar volume, potentially. We have moved into smaller hardware products like watches -- that's probably about my favorite piece of technology in the world right now -- but the services, when Apple Pay came along you notice that Apple took a lot of steps leading the industry," Wozniak said.

The Apple co-founder lauded the company's integration of security features like Touch ID and Face ID into services including Apple Pay, technologies that have been mimicked by competitors but are integral to a safe, streamlined user experience. He went on to tout Apple Card, saying the new credit card is not only secure, but a "beautiful" product.

Moving on to a hot-button topic, Wozniak offered his thoughts on the U.S.-China trade war and more specifically Apple CEO Tim Cook's handling of the situation. Noting that he dislikes the idea of tariffs and other competitive economic sanctions, Wozniak questioned Cook's regular powwows with President Trump.

Asked whether he would interface with Trump, Wozniak said, "I probably wouldn't because I don't think with this president anything can be productive."

"I think Tim Cook, though, being a very important economic force in the United States -- Apple is -- I think Tim Cook actually gets the president's ear a little bit and can warn him, 'this might be bad in a certain way.' For example it was recently pointed out that if we suffered an imbalance of trade with more expensive products that might benefit Korean company Samsung or something like that."

Update: Following publication, Woz clarified his opinions in a statement to The Verge, saying Apple should split off divisions for practical reasons, not government-led antitrust motivations.

"For decades I have said that I would have preferred Apple to relocate divisions off to other locations, as HP did when I worked there. HP had divisions all over the country that acted more independently than in a single campus, and I saw the effects of living in nice environments, like Colorado, and having more independence as a group to come up with great products. In the case of Apple this would have meant things like relocating the computer division to one place and the iPhone division to another, etc. I also have pointed out for decades that I was the only Apple executive I ever heard express these sentiments. The campus (castle) idea is more popular," Wozniak said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 79
    This guy is totally irrelevant and should stop embarrassing himself 
    fh-acejahbladeberndoglolliverflyingdpMacProradarthekatmwhiteentropysurahara
  • Reply 2 of 79
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,001member
    Do people really care what Woz thinks? Just because the guy can put together a circuitboard doesn't mean he has a clue as to how to run a Fortune 500 company. Isn't this kinda why Steve Jobs was the business guy at Apple and not Woz?
    fh-acejahbladelolliverd_2MacPromwhiteentropysuraharaStrangeDaysrazorpit
  • Reply 3 of 79
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,047member
    i am curious. What are his contributions after leaving Apple decades ago? Giving advices to Apple? 
    tenchi211lolliverMacProuraharaanantksundaramrazorpitcornchipsarthosllamawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 79
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 426member
    Apple did spin off Claris/FileMaker. Might make sense to spin off their push into movies and tv shows.

    Neither are their core. 


    steven n.flyingdpmobirdanantksundaram
  • Reply 5 of 79
    ac88ac88 Posts: 24member
    Can you imagine if Bill Gates thought he should be giving bad advice to the current leadership at Microsoft? Woz is a walking ego.
    jahbladelolliverradarthekatmwhiteSpamSandwichuraharaanantksundaramStrangeDayssarthosllama
  • Reply 6 of 79
    I respect him but I can’t agree with this. Apple’s strength is how deeply all the parts are integrated. Actually it bothers me when they keep dragging Apple into this “big tech needs to be broken up” chant. Google, yes, Amazon, certainly, Facebook needs to be beaten to death with a stick, but Apple isn't the same kind of engulf and devour company. They make devices. They make computers. That’s it. Their services are related to those. Their devices are related to each other. Maybe they should call for breaking up Pepsico because they make too many kinds of foods, or Boeing because they make too many kinds of aircraft.
    1stmcdaveTomEpscooter63lollivermwhitebonobobroundaboutnowuraharaAndy.Hardwake
  • Reply 7 of 79
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,193member
    Why the venom in the majority of comments? The Woz is very clear that he is expressing his personal perspectives and not trying to shove his opinions down your throat. There’s nothing disrespectful coming from Woz to us so why sling disrespect back his way? 

    Geez, there was a time when men could express themselves and those who didn’t agree with them would politely nod and say “okay.” Now if someone says something people don’t agree with they’re likely to plunge a fireplace poker in the speaker’s face. 

    The chill is gone. 
    80s_Apple_GuydesignrJWSCslow n easyTomEFileMakerFellerronnelijahgsteveauCarnage
  • Reply 8 of 79
    Apple is a difficult company to “break up”.  I do think there is benefits of giving the different divisions within Apple having greater autonomy.

    Apple’s preinstalled apps are strong (calendar, notes, iMessage). The services push is strong, but the apps should be able to be uninstalled or not installed by default.

    The main area of weakness is iWork.  I don’t think it gets enough resources or independence...

    I’d pay for the apps if they were better, but instead they feel like an afterthought.  I think “Apple” wants strong ties to Microsoft and favors MS Office (they probably get a kickback.  I’d like to see them aggressively compete against Office 365, and they can’t do that currently.  Maybe have premium versions...

    My biggest problem is the Apple App Store.  I do value the “walled garden” approach, but it’s definitely anticompetitive.  I think there’s momentum to change how some of the things are done at Apple...legislatively.  Apple should make changes preemptively...
    edited August 27 ronn
  • Reply 9 of 79
    fmp3fmp3 Posts: 1member
    I have all the respect in the world for Woz's engineering ability.  I also know that Woz would have given away everything Apple developed for free if given the chance, which, of course, would have meant there would not have been an Apple for very long.

    I really get tired of those who downplay profits.  Gross Profit makes the world go round, and, most importantly, funds research for new and better products.
    FileMakerFellerpscooter63lolliverSpamSandwichAndy.HardwakeStrangeDayscornchipsarthos
  • Reply 10 of 79
    tzeshan said:
    i am curious. What are his contributions after leaving Apple decades ago? Giving advices to Apple? 
    Also, why does he continually refer to Apple as “we”?  Is he currently connected to the company in any way, official or not?
    And also, why does his beard look pink?
    rogifan_newlolliveranantksundaramsarthos
  • Reply 11 of 79
    Because the Apple of today is so far removed from his day his opinion is worth as much as any other professional Apple commentator. No more, no less. No need to hate on him. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 79
    1st1st Posts: 394member
    US has a tradition to shot itself in the foot.  Break it up? vertical integration is where the strength.  Look at the ATT - break up resulted lost of Bell lab (where is lucent? speak french?).  Antitrust bind IBM hands, history review didn't look too good for the Gov job.  Meanwhile, Japan and Korea use conglomerate to combate Gov backed (like China or Russia) industry, EU form multinational collaborated research to get ahead (5G for ex).  Those listen to the prof with version of fantasy - such as free education free for all = when you break large one into small fraction,  warning, your tax dollar might just vanished (just see extra accounting audit dollar required for compliances of each small fraction.. and legal fee).  I like Woz, but I believe he is dead wrong.  IMHO.  However, to break google or facebook are another story - many of their side project will direct into bankruptcy without "mother ship"... Give it a try.  Size matters.  Silly politicians.  (look like not just POTUS has illusion).  
    AppleExposedFileMakerFellerGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 79
    Next up, the Woz will give us advice on dieting.
    dewmepscooter63lollivertycho_macuserradarthekatanantksundaramsarthoswatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 79
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,677unconfirmed, member
    Apple is a difficult company to “break up”.  I do think there is benefits of giving the different divisions within Apple having greater autonomy.

    Apple’s preinstalled apps are strong (calendar, notes, iMessage). The services push is strong, but the apps should be able to be uninstalled or not installed by default.

    The main area of weakness is iWork.  I don’t think it gets enough resources or independence...

    I’d pay for the apps if they were better, but instead they feel like an afterthought.  I think “Apple” wants strong ties to Microsoft and favors MS Office (they probably get a kickback.  I’d like to see them aggressively compete against Office 365, and they can’t do that currently.  Maybe have premium versions...

    My biggest problem is the Apple App Store.  I do value the “walled garden” approach, but it’s definitely anticompetitive.  I think there’s momentum to change how some of the things are done at Apple...legislatively.  Apple should make changes preemptively...

    I don't know who's crazier!

    dewme said:
    Why the venom in the majority of comments? The Woz is very clear that he is expressing his personal perspectives and not trying to shove his opinions down your throat. There’s nothing disrespectful coming from Woz to us so why sling disrespect back his way? 

    Geez, there was a time when men could express themselves and those who didn’t agree with them would politely nod and say “okay.” Now if someone says something people don’t agree with they’re likely to plunge a fireplace poker in the speaker’s face. 

    The chill is gone. 

    Because the last few years we've seen Woz utter lunacy and crap that makes no sense.

    1st said:
    US has a tradition to shot itself in the foot.  Break it up? vertical integration is where the strength.  Look at the ATT - break up resulted lost of Bell lab (where is lucent? speak french?).  Antitrust bind IBM hands, history review didn't look too good for the Gov job.  Meanwhile, Japan and Korea use conglomerate to combate Gov backed (like China or Russia) industry, EU form multinational collaborated research to get ahead (5G for ex).  Those listen to the prof with version of fantasy - such as free education free for all = when you break large one into small fraction,  warning, your tax dollar might just vanished (just see extra accounting audit dollar required for compliances of each small fraction.. and legal fee).  I like Woz, but I believe he is dead wrong.  IMHO.  However, to break google or facebook are another story - many of their side project will direct into bankruptcy without "mother ship"... Give it a try.  Size matters.  Silly politicians.  (look like not just POTUS has illusion).  

    No one hates the U.S. more than the U.S. I've seen U.S. citizens hope Trumps trade war burns the country just to see Apple burn with it while rooting for knockoffs that use stolen from foreign lands that use their IP (Huawei, Sammy etc.)
    lollivermobirdStrangeDayscornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 79
    YP101YP101 Posts: 70member
    He is day dreaming.. These days big tech can not survive without software+hardware+service.
    Any one of these component spin off will be suicide,

    lolliversarthoswatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 79
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,028member
    My biggest problem is the Apple App Store.  I do value the “walled garden” approach, but it’s definitely anticompetitive.  I think there’s momentum to change how some of the things are done at Apple...legislatively.  Apple should make changes preemptively...

    Definitely anticompetitive? How so?
    edited August 27 lollivertycho_macuserAppleExposedsarthoswatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 79
    Japhey said:
    tzeshan said:
    i am curious. What are his contributions after leaving Apple decades ago? Giving advices to Apple? 
    Also, why does he continually refer to Apple as “we”?  Is he currently connected to the company in any way, official or not?
    And also, why does his beard look pink?
    Well, he's a co-founder and he probably still has a few shares. I think he has every right to use "we" to refer to Apple.

    As for what he's done since leaving: he has worked with a few tech companies but I think his greatest contribution has been his educational activities, trying to help children from underprivileged backgrounds become involved with (and get excited about) technology.

    He was very clearly expressing personal opinion in this interview. I take his views with a large grain of salt, because he was the man who wanted to remain an engineer rather than be promoted to management. Good for him, but it means he's never tested his theories about how a company should be run.
    pscooter631stronnroundaboutnowavon b7Andy.Hardwakemuthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMacdavgregllama
  • Reply 18 of 79
    1st1st Posts: 394member
    in defence of Woz, I have more respect of him compare to SJ.  (read iWoz, he is very good engineer with a big heart).  Just his idea on this matter I can't agree (may be he went to EW gathering with his students?)
    davgreg
  • Reply 19 of 79
    larryjw said:
    Apple did spin off Claris/FileMaker. Might make sense to spin off their push into movies and tv shows.

    Neither are their core. 


    Great example!
    Claris is such a household name, after the spinoff... probably just as recognizable as Apple itself!!!

    FABULOUS idea that Apple should split up into a bunch of Claris Works companies, instead.

    /sarcasm
    AppleExposedStrangeDayscornchipsarthos
  • Reply 20 of 79
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,026member
    Mr.Wozniak proved that some human becomes stupider as they get older.!! So, better to stay quite.

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