An onstage interview with Tim Cook on Tuesday turned into a mini-debate about mathematics that left everybody in the audience a little bit dumber. Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs Group, opened the presentation by rattling off several numbers from Cook's tenure as Apple chief executive officer, including the monster quarter the company just posted. "So far, Apple seems fairly undeterred by the law of large numbers," Cohn said.
The law of large numbers has come up frequently in relation to Apple this decade—including when Steve Jobs was in charge but especially now that the company has surpassed a market value of $700 billion. Analysts refer to this math theory to explain why investors should worry about the future prospects for Apple and other giant companies. As the thinking goes, financial growth begins to slow for a company that achieves a certain mass of revenue because it becomes increasingly difficult to find new businesses that move the needle.