EA founder: Apple heading towards inevitable decline

By on August 3, 2011, 8:00 PM

Electronic Arts (EA) founder Trip Hawkins believes Apple is headed toward a decline. It's of course perfectly reasonable to assume that Apple, like every company before it, will not dominate the markets it's in forever, but Hawkins sees Apple's decline as beginning relatively soon.

"If you look at any institution in history – look at the Roman Empire – anything in history, and what it looks like when it's peaking," Hawkins told Edge. "Look at Apple, and how can you say it's not peaking? The CEO is still alive, let's start there. They invented this tablet thing that's going to be really big. They've done really well by reinventing the phone. They breathed new life into the Mac. They've got this super-high marketing. All these things are about as good as they ever can be – how much better can it really get? The thing is, it may take another year or two before it starts to decline, but it has to – everything does. Everything revolves so much around Steve, and no matter how good his lieutenants are, they're not Steve. None of us is going to live forever, though I hope he lives for a really long time."

Hawkins is no longer at EA: he is currently working at a video game development company called Digital Chocolate, which he also founded in late 2003. The firm focuses on developing games for handheld devices, so Hawkins' opinion comes from his work on Apple's iOS platform. He has no plans on ditching said platform, but he does wish Cupertino wasn't so insistent on having a closed system.

"Digital Chocolate's games will always be in the App Store," Hawkins said. "But I think it would be an incredibly positive thing for the industry if Apple decided to support all of the web standards, because then Apple could be the best about everything. Right now they make a conscious choice. They want you to be in the App Store rather than the browser, so they cripple the browser. They've created this outlet and they had to have an excuse to keep you there, so they're like, 'Oh it's nothing against Flash; we just prefer HTML5'. Well, Flash can actually make a really good game, and with HTML5 you can't do that. But give HTML5 another few years to mature, and that could solve the problem. Or Apple could be more generous about deciding to support more de facto standards like Flash, or at least let it run its course."

So we're back to the old Flash versus HTML5 debate. Apple believes that HTML5 is the future. It is probably right, but many don't like the way it is imposing these beliefs on developers that depend on the company's mobile ecosystem.

Of course, Apple's unwillingness to support Flash and its overall closed model has not stopped the company from selling millions of iOS devices. Some would argue the company would be doing even better if it were more open, while others insist that it's this closed system that is what keeps Cupertino at, or near, the top (depending on who you ask).

There's no question that Apple has been doing tremendously well in recent years. Hawkins, however, thinks the company has reached its peak, or will in the next couple of years. What do you think?




User Comments: 34

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Guest said:

Win or lose, their patent war will be the beginning of the end. iOS to Android/WP7/BB OS is like, consoles to PC. Very easy choice if you really care about technology.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

What does a picture of John Waters in his surprisingly well equipped garage have to do with any of this?

Timonius Timonius said:

...mysterious buyer purchases Apple, Google, etc. Skynet v1.0 launch on the horizon. Public-at-large oblivious.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

...mysterious buyer purchases Apple, Google, etc. Skynet v1.0 launch on the horizon. Public-at-large oblivious.
Steve Jobs, in the launch bunker poses for photos, as Skynet hurls itself toward its date with destiny atop a blinding torch,with its white hot, diamond studded tower of flame.

Video available shortly @ iTunes.com

Zen Zen, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I personally think the mire fact that Apple devices like he i-Touch or i-Pod don't support "flash" should be grounds enough for the downward spiral of Apple.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I personally think the mire fact that Apple devices like he i-Touch or i-Pod don't support "flash" should be grounds enough for the downward spiral of Apple.
Yeah well, if everybody boycotted EA that said they were going to, maybe we could get rid of Apple and EA, in one fell swoop.

As far as Trip Hawkins goes, I think the joke that lost the election for Richard Nixon to John F Kennedy, would attach itself nicely to this man.

To wit; "would you by a used car from Trip Hawkins"?

Guest said:

I was thinking exactaly the same thing few days ago..Apple has reached its peak. And my prediction is that Apple will decline significantly after the second half of 2012. Two reasons...Nokia and Microsoft phones, second the birth of Win8 (you may think im a Microsoft fan but im sorry to inform but this is going to matter). Also the majority of people that i know who have an iPhone, bough the phone because of the marketing hype... half of these people are not buying it next time around. And surprisingly lot of people i know want to switch back to classic nokia phones (because its just simple). iphone is Apples bread winner...and frankly the competiotion has caught up and the hype is no more. I wish good health to Steve Jobs but his absence is going to matter, simply becuse how does one who replaces him does better than him? The person who takes over is going to feel as if there is a Mountain on its back. Other than that I dont know if apple can squeeze another product between the iPod, iphone and ipad and the imac. iTV?

Guest said:

Yes they are, since 8 months ago when i joined Apple, they cant be more at their peak then this.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

He's throwing off a creepy Vegas used car salesman vibe. That or a creepy British loan shark.

Panda218 Panda218 said:

Guest said:

Win or lose, their patent war will be the beginning of the end. iOS to Android/WP7/BB OS is like, consoles to PC. Very easy choice if you really care about technology.

The patent war is sad and pathetic, but they will abuse the system until it gets fixed. I do not think choosing iOS over the others is as easy as you make it out to be though. I currently have both an iPhone4 and an Evo. I use both day to day and I easily prefer my Evo over my iPhone. I do look forward to OTA update on my iPhone, but the cool factor has warn off and im glad its just my work phone.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

So all of this bitching because of Flash? Adobe has yet to deliver a decent performing player for any mobile device that's not also a battery drainer, hell they haven't even delivered it for OS X. So why would Apple care about Adobe if Adobe has never cared that much about Apple, they even took years to release an Intel version of their Creative Suite for OS X.

Bottom line if you've used OS X for the last ten years you must know how sucky the Flash player has been on it and there's no evidence this will be any different on any mobile OS.

Guest said:

Flash is still the most unstable, cpu-chugging thing running on Windows, OS X or Android sucking the crap out of battery life and performance. Flash has amazing capabilities and at one time could possibly have won over the web but Adobe didn't play the game right. Silverlight had the same potential but it looks like MS is going to play their same old retarded "only on MS" baloney and cripple its potential rather than serve the consumer with a cross-everything.

If Adobe can get Flash performance and stability up to standard, then fine. Till then we should thank Apple for "helping" them get their poop together.

Like it or hate Apple wants to have enough control over the users experience on Apple devices to be able to guarantee they run well. So far this has been mostly a good thing for the end user.

Guest said:

i think the fact that you refer to it as an i-Touch is a strong indication of your ignorance ...

Guest said:

...and in 2012 the world will decline...

yowanvista yowanvista said:

Apple will just fall down the cliff

Guest said:

Nothing really new here; there is a cycle to all things. Figuring out when the cycle begins/ends and where the peak/valleys are can be difficult. Since Steve Jobs has made himself the one link in which all things pass through at Apple; once he's no longer doing that then Apple will decline. Microsoft had Bill Gates however he slowly worked his way out while allowing Steve Ballmer to succeed him.

wcbert said:

The decline can happen. I said 'can'! It was be after Steve Jobs is no longer are Apple. Steve Jobs is Apple and Apple is Steve Job. Who will take over no one know and how will the company be change after Jobs again who know.

Guest said:

I am a Apple hater in all honesty but even I find Mr. Hawkins's comments silly. If Apple is headed towards decline, what about EA? They have sucked for years.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"Trip Hawkins, the man behind the myth...."!

He's throwing off a creepy Vegas used car salesman vibe. That or a creepy British loan shark.
I was thinking more along the lines as being the "Captain Kirk", of drunken tugboat skippers.

(If you look at his picture while trying to picture him in a sweaty "wife beater", I think you'll know what I mean).

Guest said:

Yeah, Hawkins does sound like the angry kid who got passed up for CF in gym class. On the other hand, Apple reminds me of the fox who didn't want the grapes. "Oh, we didn't WANT to woo those extra half-a-million customers who don't feel like dealing with our lack of concern for open software standards."

I love it when these so-called "heavyweights" get called in to voice their opinions about technology. Most of us really couldn't care less. Most of us will buy from NewEgg and will tell Apple to go to hell.

I certainly would. And do.

:)

Renrew Renrew said:

Another ploy to garner free press by stating the obvious.

"If you look at any institution in history ? look at the Roman Empire ? anything in history, and what it looks like when it's peaking,"

Guest said:

Apple to Developers is "The Marketplace", If she is "Number 1"

may be most developers "Trusted Apple" fairness and honesty

in distributing "Intellectual Property" commerce.

As long as "Honesty" is conserved by App Store in Partnership

with Developers, ... Apple will be "Number 1" in Mobility Commerce !

Whosoever can compete with this "Marketplace" should establish

"The Trust" as "The Fundamental" in business of Software.

Guest said:

Weirdly my mate was on about this a few months ago. We were talking about how high Apples shares were and he said eventually when they peak everyone will pull out quickly to make maximum profit and leave them to die.

Off topic my random question was which company created the ipod... lmao.

Guest said:

What crippling of the browser? Apple supports all of the web standards. Flash is not a web standard, it's a proprietary product. Trip hasn't been involved with any major success since the 1980's, and has presided over massive failures. Why listen

Guest said:

I always said that Jobs had a talent to a bring company to the top but he also has a talent to bring it down even faster. The fact that he's stepping aside for now might be a blessing for Apple. As far as Flash goes, Apple is retarded for completely cutting it out (without giving users any choice whatsoever, and it's not only with Flash; seems that little Brother grew up to be Big Brother :)) but I also agree that Flash is a battery drainer (as far as cpu and all that, what year is this and what systems do you people use? are you still on vista? give me a break). As soon as Adobe finally addresses battery issue in depth Apple has nothing to say, but my guess is that if Jobs has his way they will find something. At the end, Apple will decline but they will retain their usual market share (you know, the people that say stupid thing like "2GB of RAM in Mac is like 4GB of RAM in Win." no it's not, 2 is 2 and it's all about how well u use your system). They will def loose a large share in smart phone market and as far as tablet market goes your guess is as good as mine (and anyone who says they know for a fact what will happen to that market is a fool. The only tablet I'm considering buying is ASUS transformer b/c of it's flexibility but hopefully Sony will make something like that at some point and a bit more powerful; though ASUS is good enough i guess). This is my five cents on the issue.

Guest said:

The problem with his main argument is that Apple does not in fact dominate anything (yet) but perhaps the mp3 player marker (iPod) where it has had above 70% market share for years. That is currently only about 5% of revenue and declining though so will soon be irrelevant to the bottom line.

PC: 10% US, 6% Globally?

Mobile phones: 5% of handsets globally , 20 something percent of Smartphones? Android has 48% , much closer to saturation and no one is preaching Googles impending decline?

Tablets: 63% market share (boy are those Android tablets selling like hotcakes, but has anyone actually seen one in use?). But the market is in still it's infancy but showing explosive growth.

All market segments Apple participates in (except iPod) is showing growth as a whole and Apple even bigger growth within those markets.

On top of that Apple has a cash pile bigger that the US Government. Someone did the math and concluded that if Apple did not sell one single device of piece of Media or Software starting today it would be able to survive for more than four years on cash alone.

Now does that sound like a company (and stock) that will reach it's peak within a year or two?

If that is true for Apple. That would mean every other company that Apple is competing with (and has bigger market share) would be even closer to decline than Apple is? Or? And even if apple growth start to level out. Why is it that no one seems to think that taking 66% of the global mobile handset profits is a good thing for Apple as a company and the stock the next year or two? Isn't the name of the game to be profitable?

Let be get this straight. The rulebook has now been rewritten for publicly traded companies. Explosive growth, a large stack of cash and great profitability is now a *liability*?

Guest said:

"If you look at any institution in history - look at the Roman Empire - anything in history, and what it looks like when it's peaking,"

That is so insightful. It is like saying what goes up must come down. Well, tell us when it will hit the ground and substantiate with your wisdom.

Seems he resents Apple tight rein of it's app store.

hitech0101 said:

Here's a crazy idea how about allowing your iOS to run on machines which don't have a bitten apple on them.

Yup this definitely sounds crazy to all fanboys out there but still a practical choice to stay on top.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

"If you look at any institution in history - look at the Roman Empire - anything in history, and what it looks like when it's peaking,"

That is so insightful. It is like saying what goes up must come down. Well, tell us when it will hit the ground and substantiate with your wisdom.

Seems he resents Apple tight rein of it's app store.

Good Lord, why do they always attach the rise and fall component of a business to the rise and fall of Rome (*)? The corner bodega just went out of business, it's like the fall of Rome, I tell you!

(*) Which BTW, arguably didn't happen until 1453 AD http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire

Guest said:

The John Waters look is great, frankly. Also yes, I think a lot of people are aware of this, probably plenty people inside Apple worrying about it as well, and thinking they can come up with next to extend the peak another half decade. Since Jobs returned to Apple they've ridden one wave after another to ever-increasing success and share price, starting with the resurgence of the iMac with the G3, then the iPod, the iPhone and now the iPad - which I personally think is the first one that isn't having quite the same impact as the innovations before it and the beginning of a gradual decline.

In any case, you can look at the history of the IT industry, rather than the fall of Rome if you want more relevant examples; Xerox, IBM, and most recently Microsoft have all sunk from their dominant positions they held at their very peak.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

The John Waters look is great, frankly. Also yes, I think a lot of people are aware of this, probably plenty people inside Apple worrying about it as well, and thinking they can come up with next to extend the peak another half decade. Since Jobs returned to Apple they've ridden one wave after another to ever-increasing success and share price, starting with the resurgence of the iMac with the G3, then the iPod, the iPhone ....[
Listen, if Mr. hawkins were a piece of furniture, stylistically they'd have to call it, "sleaze bag provincial".

But more to topic. I question his motivation for making this grand pronouncement. EA severely angered most of its customer base with their all digital, no tangible media decision.

IMHO, this is just a smokescreen, diversion, and publicity stunt, to stifle the bad press, and turn the camera back on himself, but in a better light.

These companies have really very little to do with one another. If Apple were to disappear tomorrow, it would mean that EA wouldn't have to write games for OS "X". Do they even do that now? (No really, do they)? (I mention EA and Mr. Hawkins in the same niche since, although he is not involved with EA, he probably still has at least an emotional connection with that company).

Everybody seems to have missed what probably is the most salient point of all, it really is fashionable to hate Apple. The possible reasoning being, if individuals do it, why not give a corporate voice to their contempt. Viewed in that light, Mr. Hawkin's blather, is nothing more than "bandwagon propaganda". Since he is involved with developing games for the "App Store", he's also bordering on biting the hand that feeds him.

and ]....now the iPad - which I personally think is the first one that isn't having quite the same impact as the innovations before it and the beginning of a gradual decline.
I'd argue that the degree of impact isn't as important as the response to it. Other manufacturers jumped in quickly, and with both feet, to counter Apple's iPad offering.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Apple to Developers is "The Marketplace", If she is "Number 1"

may be most developers "Trusted Apple" fairness and honesty

in distributing "Intellectual Property" commerce.

As long as "Honesty" is conserved by App Store in Partnership

with Developers, ... Apple will be "Number 1" in Mobility Commerce !

Whosoever can compete with this "Marketplace" should establish

"The Trust" as "The Fundamental" in business of Software.

Inept and boorish sermons such as this, are the reason nobody goes to church anymore.

Here are some additional quotation marks, """""""""", is case you've run out.

Guest said:

People like you posted report like this always. First it was 100 reasons why iPhone will fail, then who will use touch keyboard? Like it or not the market is expanding and apple is going big in Asia.

Who ever wrote this is as lame as a donkey. Bookmark this and see you again in 2 years.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

People like you posted report like this always. First it was 100 reasons why iPhone will fail, then who will use touch keyboard? Like it or not the market is expanding and apple is going big in Asia.

Who ever wrote this is as lame as a donkey. Bookmark this and see you again in 2 years.

We'll be waiting with bated breath for your "triumphant" return.

(Cranky lifts his glass in salutation), and says, "here's to you learning something about English in the mean time"!

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