August 1, 2014
MarkBernstein.org
 

Prosperity Gospel

Much of what passes for intelligent business commentary in the US is thinly-masked prosperity gospel. The recent discussion the the mobile software disaster is rife with implicit prosperity gospel mongering.

Prosperity Gospel business reporting holds that, when a product succeeds, it succeeds because the CEO or the product manager is brilliant and wonderful, a romantic hero like Steve Jobs. When a product fails, its failure stems from the shortsightedness and shortcomings of the foolish and ill-behaved management. Just like Steve Jobs, back in the day, was the dirty hippy who nearly ruined Apple. That was before he saved Apple. If you win twenty in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win twenty in the show, however, it means you are a slob.

"After all, it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding.

But, speaking of the seeds of time, it sounds increasingly like none of the seeds are growing. One advantage of looking at indie products is that it’s hard to fudge: a big company can explain away weak sales in product A because A helps sell product B and B is what really matters. Are Pages and Numbers profitable? Who knows? My guess is that Apple has no idea, and we really have no idea. But if few or no isolated mobile software apps are thriving, we’ve got a real problem.