And so it begins... the Chapter 11 door opens in the far distance as...
Apple takes its first tentative steps along The HP Way.
Now the big cheese is no longer there to crack the whip, the management squabbles are getting under way. The restructuring to consolidate the core competencies and develop a unified go-to-market proposition will follow in the next six months or so.
As reorganisation follows reorganisation, the poor sods lower down the food chain will see ever more of their time wasted on meaningless initiatives. The board will make promises to the market about launch dates and features, knowing full well they're talking out of their backsides. Not a problem though, our people are our most valuable asset, and they'll pull the rabbit out of the hat.
Except that they won't. As the pressure is piled on, accompanied by a few more reorganisations and constructive dismissals of anyone who is prepared to argue the toss with Captain Cook, the infighting and lack of direction will percolate lower down the organisation. The people with the real creative drive will eventually get fed up with the crap and will jump ship. I bet Samsung are laying on a ceilidh to celebrate this news.
Once the real innovative minds have gone, and the people with the get-up-and-go have done just that, Apple will be reduced to a company staffed with second-raters, chair warmers and management drones, who will think that a few software tweaks and court battles equate to an innovative and market-leading company. They may get away with that for a fair old while - Apple's brand loyalty is something a lot of companies would kill for.
But then, a rival company will produce a new must-have shiny shiny. By that time, Apple will be too rigid, too blind and too lacking in creative ability to hit back. They will certainl try, but the brand loyalty will melt away like snow in the sunshine and their efforts are increasingly found wanting.
And when they eventually file for Chapter 11, the management will still be asking 'what went wrong? What did we do?' and will blame everything - lost court battles, anti-competitive practices by Nokia / Samsung / Sony / Google / Microsoft / Honest John's Mobile Emporium (iFads jailbroken for cash, just a fiver to you squire), the state of the world economy, the eurozone crisis - anything, in fact, but their own lack of technical ability, lack of creativity, lack of foresight and downright incompetence.
Mushroom cloud, because that's where Apple's heading.