One of my friend, a great Apple fan, said Apple is the most innovative company of the world. I find very hard to counter him at that moment. Later I gave few moments to actually find whether Apple actually is. I found just the opposite. Companies like Motorola, Toyota, Google, Microsoft, General Electric, Intel, Pfizer etc have many more innovations than Apple. Apple's innovation can be counted in hands as they come in package and with huge publicity. They make revolutionary products but it is the same old Apple in process. They make a product and live with it for sometime and then again after few years they bring some other product that pushes further. This makes them notable.
While when we talk of companies like Toyota, they innovate everyday. If they make product innovation, they implement it for betterment of existing portfolio of products rather than waiting for a entirely new product. And they have been very innovative in the process improvement side. They were pioneers in implementing some of the best known methods of modern management like BPR and EVA, and they have one of the best HR management in the corporate world.
When I compare Apple with Toyota, I feel one is slowly moving towards the world dominance and other has no such mandate. Apple geeks enjoy what they do. It is good for them, the company management and the employees who work there but may not be good for the shareholders who actually invest in the company. Apple's business is not less random than the casino game. High risk and high return (with less probability).
I would say, work for Apple or use Apple's product and trade the Apple's share (short term wit caution). But never remain invested. I admire Apple for the products like Mac OS, iPod and iPhone. I would love to use all of these. But I caution everybody against their business culture. Windows launching made Mac OS almost obsolete, and who knows if some competitor for Apple's iPod and iPhone are underway in some company's lab. I am sure, Apple is not prepared for that battle and they will lose if something of that sort happens. And as always, Apple geeks will start exploring some other area and again blame customers for not understanding them and valuing their product.
I sometime wonder Apple, which was once the main competitor of Microsoft became Sony's main competitor by the launch of iPod (competing against Sony's Walkman) and then turned to become Nokia's (iPhone is expected to hit high cost segment, which Nokia is leading with high N-series phone sales). They may one day come up with the iCar and compete with Toyota or Mercedes. It wont be a surprise, but just another move.
One thing is sure. Leave apart the business, Apple is a company which deserves high praise and love. Thanks to Steve Jobs. Whether Apple makes money or not, Jobs is the man who gave a lot to the world. Steve Jobs will probably take much of the page in the history of modern corporate world. And he deserves it.