Blogging mostly about mundane stuff like, immigration, Workers' Compensation and other immigrant related activities.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Apple + Dell & Microsoft = Interesting History

The Vocational Rehabilitation sector has lately all but disappeared and has resulted in Counselors scrambling to reinvent themselves, find new markets and revenue sources before the spigot completely dries out.

In these trying times I have found some inspiration by reflecting upon history. I'm encouraged by leaders who at their darkest moment have he courage to chose to take different path, to buck conventional thinking and set forth into unchartered territories. The company that has inspired me latetly is Apple.

Apple is arguably the hottest and sexiest tech company at this moment. However, I'm reminded of what Apple looked like in 1997.

At this moment Apple commands a mere 4% of the worlds market for personal computers. This number is expected to increase, given the halo effect brought upon because of the iPod and iTunes. However, Apple is also a story of good branding, design and execution. The fortunes of Apple are likely to increase as they roll out new products based on Intel chips beginning with the innovative MacBook Pro that houses the Intel Core Duo chip.

But, back to my point of inspiration. Just a mere 8 years ago (ok. I admit it 8 years is an eternity in the tech industry but humor me) Apple was a company who's future was questioned.

In fact Michael Dell of Dell computers made the following observation, at the 1997 Gartner Symposium Itxpo, he said, "Apple Should Close Shop"”. Michael Dell went on to say that the company should be closed and the money returned to it's shareholders. So, here we are in 2006 and Apple stock is at $85.58. The stock valuation places a total market value of $72.13 Billion for Apple. The Dell stock by comparison is at $30.58, which gives Dell a total market value of $71.97 Billion. It must be quite perplexing for Michael Dell to find that at this moment Apple has a greater market value than his company. It is probably annoying that Apple keeps churning out sexier products at a regular clip.

An aside and interesting tidbit was that in 1997 just days before the return of Steve Jobs to Apple, Mexican Billionare Carlos Slim Helu purchased 3% of Apple. He pays $17 per share and during the next 12 month period the stock soars to $100, as Apple launches several new products including the popular iMac . Overall, Carlos Slim Helu invests $25 Million Dollars. Did Slim Helu know something Dell did not, regardless of what he knew he earned a comparison to Warren Buffet by Wall Street as he pocketed more than $30 Million Dollars in profits from his Apple investment.

They say "fact is stranger than fiction" and in this case history reveals a strange bedfellow for Apple who is provided with a $150 Million investment from Microsoft. The investment is announced on August 6, 1997 at MacWorld Boston, Microsoft Invests $150 Million in Apple.

The last 8 years have seen the introduction of a variety of innovative products from Apple and despite the fact that it only commands a mere 4% of the PC market it is currently the tech company that it's competitors secretly yearn to be.

The Workers Compensation community and particularly Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors can take heart and learn some valuable lessons from the risks taken by Steve Jobs and Apple.

The counseling community has always been comprised of many talented and very resourceful individuals. Now would be a good time to look beyond our industry and find inspiration. Our community will with time renew itself and develop innovative products and services. The changes will be beneficial to our industry and we will one day reflect upon the legislative changes handed down by Sacramento as not very different from the ill fated comments of Michael Dell concerning Apple in 1997.

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