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1/9/2009
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Apple: 10 Things It Needs To Do In 2009

Its Mac OS X operating system, App Store, iPhone, notebooks, and other hardware all get good marks, but they could be improved upon. Here's how.

Like the rest of the business world, Apple is embarking on treacherous times in 2009. But Apple faces special challenges: It sells boutique products that cost more than the competition.




However, Apple also has special strengths: Those same products cost more because they're better, and Apple has a fiercely loyal customer base.

To help Apple successfully navigate the turbulent financial waters, here are 10 pieces of advice on what the company needs to do with its operating system, iPhone, App Store, hardware, marketing, and more.

1. Build A Moat Around Apple Headquarters, Fill It With Crocodiles

Apple set off a bit of a foofaraw in December when it announced it was pulling out of the Macworld conference. The decision set off a wave of theorizing why they were doing it. But the real reason is pretty simple.

CEO Steve Jobs's role model is Willy Wonka. He wants to lock himself up in Apple's Cupertino headquarters and not have to talk to people anymore.

Macworld Expo is expensive, and Apple just wasn't getting the payback for it.

More importantly, Macworld Expo is outside of Apple's control; it's run, not by Apple, but by International Data Group (which competes with InformationWeek's parent company, United Business Media). The Apple community expects a big announcement out of the conference, and Apple would rather roll out announcements on its own schedule.

Moreover, Macworld gives customers and developers Uncontrolled communication with Apple, and Apple hates that, says John Welch, an IT manager, blogger, and sometime InformationWeek contributor, in a profanity-laced blog post. Apple "HATES unmanaged random customer contact," Welch says, and clarifies: "Apple doesn't want to talk to you. Apple has never wanted to talk to you."

Apple wants to limit its contact with customers to the Internet and to the Apple Stores, which are as orchestrated as Disneyland, Welch says. Developers get access to Apple at the Apple-run Worldwide Developers Conference in the summer.

Welch is right -- but I don't think he goes far enough. Apple doesn't just want to control contact with customers and developers, it wants to eliminate that contact entirely -- except for the contact involving customers handing over their credit cards and walking off with merchandise.

Indeed, Steve Jobs doesn't want contact with anyone -- not even Apple employees.

And that's the real reason Steve Jobs didn't attend Macworld this year. He hinted he skipped it for health reasons. But the real reason is that he's on an overseas excursion, looking for Oompa Loompas he can replace Apple's employees with.

Then, Jobs can build a big, wrought-iron fence around Apple's headquarters and chain and padlock the gate shut. After that, nothing will ever be seen going into Apple headquarters, and the only things that'll come out are Wonka Bars and Everlasting Gobstoppers Macs, iPhones, and iPods. Forever.

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