I was reading an article the other day from an editor at Sky news and judging by tone of his “Dear John” letter it would seem that 28 years after the most powerful TV commercial ever, an ardent disciple’s love affair with Apple was starting to wane, “Love’s Labours Lost” was the thought that came to mind as I read through the word games, puns, allusions and pastiche.
On reading the article you’d think that Apple was losing it. I know, I shouldn’t go by what one disillusioned albeit high-profile communicator was saying, especially when several hundreds of millions of clients and potential clients, willing to spend weeks of anguish waiting for new product releases, are proving the contrary… and then I read the comments at the bottom and chuckled. One reader suggested that the editor’s article was a thinly disguised attempt at driving traffic to his economics Blog… oh really? I smothered a snigger. I also suppressed the feeling of “Schadenfreude” I was starting to have.
So what’s my stance? Personally I’ve never been an Apple freak, geek or whatever – come to that I‘ve never been a fan of Sky news either – and I guess I started not liking Apple when I learnt about the row they had with the Beatles (Apple Computer vs. Apple Corps) over the apple logo trademark rights. I hadn’t been so culturally upset since the very late 1960s when the British Labour government forced the original “Radio Caroline” to shut up shop (and no I’m not forgetting the over major event that marked me, John Lennon’s assassination, Dec 09th 1980, but we’ll leave that one be for now). But it did confirm one point. You can look like a hippy and have a cool California attitude and still have a mean business killer streak! (Reminds me of the NoFx 2006 song: “Never trust a Hippy!”)
Computer wise I had worked briefly on some Nixdorf computers and NCR accountancy systems (the famous NCR Class 42 Posting Machine to be exact) back in the early 80s but not enough to have an anchored opinion on the question. So when I started working with “Apple Macintosh” in 1996 I was fertile ground, ready to be polarized. The simplicity and ergonomics of if it made my job easier (I was learning database operations, desktop publishing and so on) but then along came a chance to work for HP and the door closed. I got swept away with the “HP Way” and the only Mac I ever saw, but rarely worked on again, had been relegated to a data server zone with restricted access so the chances of me sitting down and getting nostalgic about the Apple Mac were next to zilch, even if I had the time.
As for Apple’s gadgets and applications I went cold on those when I found out that, as with iTunes, they weren’t universal. Then as now I was a bit of a sorcerer’s apprentice and iTunes just wouldn’t let me import my music from other sources and platforms and that riled me. Time wise I’m talking about the halcyon days of the early 2000s and before the original Kazaa got shut down (Cloud before the time). iTunes was a ground breaker. It was structured and user-friendly and had it have been possible to convert and import all my music into it I might have joyfully stepped into the wonderful world of Apple and never look back. But iTunes was for iPod, not the Samsung mp3 reader I had at the time, and somehow I couldn’t resolve myself to paying 250$ for an iPod when the Samsung mp3 reader I had only cost me 50$ and served its purpose just as well.
In 2006 along came the iPhone and again I couldn’t rationalize paying 500$ for a phone when at the time when all I wanted to do with my telephone was call people. Actually I would say it was about that time that a lot, and I mean a lot, of people started hitting on Apple but not for the Powerbooks and iMacs, that at the time only represented about 4-5 % of the computer market. Credit due. Apple understood that one day more people would have telephones than computers, especially theirs, and until the late Steve Job’s demise they boosted their applications and services sectors, punctuating acquisitions with iPhone and iPad releases and never looking back… and the rest as they say is history, as seen by one particular outsider who looks on with a certain interest but little empathy at all the fuss and commotion generated every time Apple has a revolutionary idea!
I’ve a Blackberry and I’m relatively satisfied with it. I had wanted a Blackberry for a few years before I finally bought one, waiting patiently until my needs and requirements crystallized and the right offer was made and … ah, yes I am satisfied with my Blackberry, so much so that I was slightly frustrated to read that Yahoo’s new CEO recently told employees to ditch the RIMs in favour of Smartphones because that’s where the future is. Maybe she’s right and then again maybe RIM will be part of that future.
Oh, and while I’m about it I’m also the happy owner of a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Tablet, an old Dell Dimension desktop PC and a relatively reliable HP Dv7 laptop, when it isn’t being decontaminated to root out deeply buried Trojans of Eastern European origin, now if that isn’t a great example of allegiance to diversity.
Apple’s leitmotiv from day one was to be the acceptable, alternative face of computing and perhaps, dare I say it, Nemesis to the omnipotent Big Brother IBM (sic the 1984 Super Bowl commercial). Today the world’s moved on. IBM has moved onto to other things (its PC division now being owned by Lenovo); HP’s reign as PC market leader of the 2000s is over, Microsoft is no longer the ogre it was 5 years ago, even the Ideal Facebook represented only lasted the time it took for Mark Zuckerberg to decide to go Public.
You could almost say that in the vacuum Apple has become the Big Brother in the story. Ironic! So tell me. What’s the catch? Is Apple really losing it? Does Apple really need to reinvent itself like others have done? Do Apple really need to find that special one, capable of personally patenting over 300 inventions, to galvanize the brand and put the Apple culture back in its tracks or are they going just where they want to and it’s the pundits who need to take step back to see the big picture!