Alan Kay: Apple’s Not Cutting It

Former Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) contributor and tech visionary Alan Kay sat down for an interview with computer historian David Greelish, and his words painted an unsavory picture of Apple.

Kay may be an idealist when it comes to envisioning what a computer can and should be, and he doesn’t seem to think Apple has lived up to his standards. He has dreamed of “symmetric authoring and consuming,” where everyone could be involved, engaged, and mentally stimulated, and the Dynabook — Kay’s own ideal — was central in that vision. But, he said that Apple hasn’t achieved the equivalent of the Dynabook with its devices or its services.

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The trouble may come from within the company’s structure. Kay noted the volatility within Apple, saying, “as far as Apple goes, it was a different company every few years from the time I joined in 1984.” And, maybe Kay is right; maybe it still is a constantly changing company, and the current state just is not a positive one.

Kay said of Steve Jobs, “there was Steve — an elemental force — and then there was no Steve.” His words likely attribute charismatic leadership to Jobs, which doesn’t bode well for Apple in his follow-up statement: “if they [organizations] require a charismatic leader who will shoot people in the knees when needed, then the corporate organization and process is a failure.”

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Currently, many critics spew concerns about Apple’s focus and on the company’s lack of charismatic and visionary leadership. But Kay’s statement suggested that even if Apple could replace current chief executive officer Tim Cook with a stronger leader, it may not do much good, as the essence of the company would be in troubled water either way.

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