∞ EA founder: Apple headed towards decline


“The thing is, it may take another year or two before [Apple] 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] added.

Trip Hawkins founded Electronic Arts (EA), the world’s largest independent video game publisher. These days he runs Digital Chocolate, which makes games for platforms including iOS. Hawkins doesn’t have it out for Apple – in fact, he makes a point to note “Digital Chocolate’s games will always be in the App Store,” but he thinks that such declines are a natural part of the life cycle of any company or industry.

Hawkins also complains about Apple’s unwillingness to support Flash and Apple’s “closed model;” two familiar complaints from other developers that, to date, haven’t affected Apple’s ability to sell iOS devices very much at all.

  • Jiri Fiala

    Well, Hawkins knows Apple. He was a pretty big honcho at Apple in early 1980s.

    • Peter Cohen

      Hawkins knew Apple. They were six years old when he left.

  • Well, it’s an old argument really. It can’t be proven or disproven until the day Jobs step-down from Apple. John Gruber talked about it at Macworld 2010 I thought it was a great segment on it:


  • Anonymous

    Yes declines are a part of the business cycle, Apple has been through several (I think the Apple III intro may have been the first). And they’ve recovered. I don’t expect a decline in Apple’s business until the smartphone market gets saturated and fighting for customers really gets down to price only. And based on their current willingness to fight on price they may hold their own there as well.

    Will there be a business decline if Jobs retires or dies? Nope, but I expect the stock price to drop like a rock as everyone assumes he does everything at Apple and without him they’ll run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

    • Anonymous

      I disagree with that last point. It might drop a little but Steve started pushing the rest of the team to the stage for a reason. That reason being to drive home that he doesn’t do everything. And the past few months have shown that they are fine without him there making all the calls and wiping the execs butts for them. 

      • Anonymous

        eh, i’ll stick with my prediction but you could be right. I still think the perception is more along the lines of Hawkins though with people assuming Steve is the only one doing any work there.

  • Anonymous

    Apple is a black swan. You can’t judge them by the rest of the industry because there is no equivalent.

  • Anonymous

    It’s too early to be making these kinds of calls especially putting a 2-3 years timeline on them. There are many unknowns. Apple is in much better shape to navigate a post-Jobs era than it was last time he left the company. They’ve just started to grow the post-PC market. There are a lot of PCs still left to replace….

  • Depends on what ‘starting to decline’ means, but does anyone seriously think the ‘closed model’ is going to stop making Apple a rest-of-industry-embarrassing amount of money in the next 1-2 years?

    They make money on the dirt, the shovels, the gold, and the new dirt built from the gold.

  • Flash is outdated, get over it. Apple made a good decision to not want to use it. Hasn’t anybody noticed these days that volvo’s have been replaced  by subaru’s? The same for flash!!

    • Juzbitchin

      Wow, need to retake the Analogies 101 class.  That was a terrible one.

  • He’s right. Everything declines. Look at the USA. 

  • Anonymous

    People who do not use Apple products do not realize how much of a pain it is to use flash on OS X or IOS. Flash is yesterday and Adobe and others need to design for tomorrow. 

    Just a thought.

    • Juzbitchin

      Just another thought:   It’s good enough.   

  • Anonymous

    I suppose if a person predicts decline for Apple every day, sooner or later they are going to be right. A broken clock is right twice a day. There will come a day when Steve Jobs is separated from Apple. It will have a profound impact but the company will continue to execute. The remaining management team is solid. Decline is entirely possible but Mr Hawkins seems to accept as fact that the competition will suddenly become competent. I won’t bother to comment on the open vs closed argument as I find the matter boring.

  • DCrellen

    Steve needs to mentor a new young minded person to fill his shoes.  Hopefully, Steve will continue living for a long time but, as we baby-boomers know, our thoughts tend to follow our aging trend and it becomes increasingly hard to understand what ticks in young minds. Any decline in Apple’s creativity would indeed happen if the company ages along with Steve.

    So, has this new kid been identified yet?  According to Trip Hawkins, they have only a couple of years to produce this heir to the creativity throne.

    • Anonymous

      Apple would never say anything about this if they were doing it. Tim Cook is 5 years younger and Jonathan Ive is 12 years younger than Steve. And neither have had cancer yet. I’d say between the 2 of them they have the majority of Steve’s job covered and are already mentored.

  • Isn’t saying “Apple is headed for decline.” like saying, “You’re headed for death.”?  Of course you are.  Nothing lasts forever.

    But I’ll tell you right now, if/when Jobs leaves the company for whatever reason, every tech pundit who slams Apple now will be starting every Apple article second-guessing whether it’s, “the way Jobs would have done it…”.

  • This is the best the head of EA can come up with. 

    Isn’t that kind of like car stereo manufacturer Alpine predicting the decline of Porsche?

    Where do they get off pretending they know? (EA, not Alpine.)

    And of course, his invocation of Flash shows just how savvy he is, or isn’t.

  • I think he has a point, but it’s a little exaggerated. 

    Large corporations rise and fall all the time, but there’s a level of consistency that many of them maintain. In the future, Apple might not be as successful as it is now, but I doubt they’ll have a dramatic decline.

    At this point, Apple would have to very intentional about failure in order to decline greatly.

  • What a remarkably trollish thing for a company head to say about another company head who kicked his business model’s ass.

  • Trip could say the same with less just by singing that old Hee Haw song:

    “Gloom, despair, and agony on meDeep dark depressionExcessive miseryIf it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have to luck at allGloom, despair and agony on me.”

  • Anonymous

    If these people are so clairvoyant, why aren’t they all obscenely rich throwing their ringing Android phones into the ocean as they sit there alongside a super-model sipping their pina coladas?….

  • This guy doesn’t know what he is talking about.

  • Anonymous

    Filed under:


  • Player_16

    Yeah, 1998 ran its course and look what happened: we’re moving on. Flash had its day. It’s a portable life style and Flash is not portable. Even Adobe is finally realising it. Give it up! …and no, I don’t think Apple has peaked.

  • Mocha Hosted

    I saw they fly with the wind, that why they use intel (after declining – (is it right?)); now go to ARM.

  • Anonymous

    Spoken like a guy that needs to keep his company’s stock value up for a bit longer. 

  • Crisrod63

    The thing is that Apple already declined. It did so almost to the point of utter bankruptcy. Then came the first iMac. I agree that nothing last for ever. It’s just the impermanent nature of all things. But Apple is not only strong in one area, it’s strong in every single market it decided to compete, with the exception of the setup box, which in turn, no player is really strong (It’s a hobby). The thing is that Jobs is really ill, and I am sure that much of what is being decided at Apple now and day’s is how to carry out with out him. I personally believe that Tim Cook has had a huge impact on Apple’s success. Selling 20 million iPhones per quarter must be a logistical nightmare, yet it seems to be running pretty smooth from were I am standing, and we all know that Tim is in charge of making that happen.

  • Every word in the quote is true, except maybe the timeline. Might be shorter, might be longer, but his point are perfectly sound.

  • I also wonder if Hawkins felt the same way about closed platforms when he was making games for consoles.

  • Hawkins needs to read some jim collins…..