Future Tense: Whither Apple?

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MaximumMike

"The Fox and the Hound" and "Robin Hood" are timeless Disney classics. Animators today cannot even get close to these masterpieces, not even Disney itself. Perhaps you are next going to tells us how Shakespeare really fell of the wagon when he wrote "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet".

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Papa_Beast

Mr. Gerrold, et al, Are you familiar with the writings of John Taylor Gatto? It is his belief that genius is as common as dirt. Public school is utilized to train genius out of the vast majority of the public in order to facilitate a command and control economy. This puts me in mind of the introduction to A Rage for Revenge. You suggest it would be a GOOD thing for school to train us to be successful. Yet, school trains us to be obedient. It's more successful at this than most of us realize. Good day to you, sir!

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Moeskido

David, you raise an issue that I suspect many long-time users of Apple products are reluctant to deal with, but which has already become the new meme that company's detractors rally around. Trouble is, there's no way to reliably confirm or refute your assertion… at least in the short term.

Apple made lots of mistakes while Jobs ran it. But the first such genuine mistake (as opposed to the numerous trivial "-gates" the tech press seem fond of generating page hits with) Apple makes under Tim Cook will be ascribed to the fact that—shockingly—Cook /= Jobs. And there'll be no way to validate that, unless you have access to the alternate universe where Steve is still alive and kicking, and can use it as a control.

Apple also made lots of mistakes during the decade or so while Jobs was away. The first two computers I ever bought for myself were made by Apple while Jobs was learning how to run two other companies. I had little awareness of who he was at the time, and no idea he'd been gone. All I cared about was that I'd found the tools I needed (including Adobe Illustrator 3.0) that would enable me to do the work I was aiming toward. My third computer was a clone whose maker Jobs shut down upon his return to Apple.

The company had dismal leadership during that decade, but the products still worked well—in spite of the Microsoft-certified IT community's derision—and still enabled me to pursue a career in print production and eventually graphic design. All without inhaling rubber cement or having to hire a support specialist to edit config files. All during a succession of CEOs who, try as they might, couldn't entirely disable the capabilities they'd been given stewardship over.

My point is that, without knowing what it's like to work at Apple, none of us will know when or whether Apple's future missteps will be attributable to that lack of specific visionary leadership you describe.

More to your final point: I suspect there are at least a few people at Apple who've learned the lessons Jobs attempted to teach them all—certainly with a bit more awareness than Disney's successors did. There definitely are one or two high-level folks there who've become notorious for their exactitude.

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Mighty BOB!

Oh you did NOT just diss on the Fox and the Hound.

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crazybigdan

Robin Hood too!  That is my favorite Disney Movie.

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Gezzer

I've always looked at it from this point.

Some people are about making products others are about making profits. Though they're not mutually exclusive, making profits is often the easier route if that's your main focus. While making products, especially if they're new or truly innovative, is always a gamble no matter what the final product is. So Apple's first hurdle is not to take the "safe" route and see profits as the end product.

I've never been anti Apple because of their products, more because of how they demanded complete controll over the user experience. This had both it's benefits and it's short comings. A consistant product UI/experience that was fairly straight forward helped create the major Apple fan base, or the iCult as I like to call them. But forcing a user to only use their services like iTunes was one of the reasons I stayed away. As well Apple's misinformation that was the pablum for the iCult, well I just found too hard to stomach.

I'm more inclined to think that without the head priest some iCult members might be inclined to look over the fence, and where that will lead is anyone's guess. As for lacking a person with vision at the helm I'm not sure how important that is. As long as Apple can take concepts and give them the polish that Apple is know for they should do alright. At least till a company comes along that can out apple Apple.

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Zoandar

They say history is written by the winners. I wish I could be around in a hundred years to see how the history books will have been written about this technology over our lifespans.

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AntonioGarrison

I'll agree with numerous points of this Article.  Before Steve Jobs came back Apple was in a dark a almost bankrupt place.  Steve jobs came back and asked for help from one of his earlier cohorts(Bill Gates) and got his company (Apple) back on track.  Apple is now a very marketable company and if it's not led correctly once again it will be back in the iHole again.

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Tenhawk

While Jobs was spectacular at creating marketing concepts, didn't Apple do pretty much nothing BUT turn out 'Me Too' products? I mean, don't get me wrong... They were also 'Me Best' products when they were introduced, but the iPod wasn't an Apple first, nor the iPhone, nor was even the original Apple interface. They built a company off spotting ideas others weren't using to their potential and stealing them for themselves. It goes right back to Xerox and the classic GUI.

When they really stepped out and tried new stuff, it usually tanked. Like the original iPad, the Newton.

I know that a lot of people love Apple products, and I even get why... they're dead simple, beautiful in design, and very high quality builds as a general rule... but the reason why Apple has always played a niche roll was because Apple tells you what you want to buy while other companies ask. If Apple had been visionary they would have ruled the market back in the 80s when all they had to do was let other people play in their sandbox. They had the best tech, but IBM PCs kicked their butts. Today we're starting to see the same thing again where Android is now beginning to outsell iOS due simply to choice. Even with a HUGE lead, they're already beginning to lose ground and be relagated back to the niche market.

You can blame this on Jobs not being there, but it's his core beliefs that are leading the backlash. His 'walled garden' is only good when your only real choice is "Do I buy Apple, or do I go without?"

When people have a choice, a very large segment will choose freedom over confinement... no matter how gilded the cage is. I've used an iPad, and I own an Eee Pad Transformer. All I can say is, thank GOD for not having iTunes.

I suppose it's visionary to be able to see which new product can become an must have device, then turn it into such a device while laying out some really impressive advertising concepts. But I never saw Jobs as being a technology visionary... more of a very good eye for spotting developing trends and maximizing their value.

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h e x e n

Couldn't have said it any better. Very well written, Tenhawk.

Agreed 150%.

 

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Khoiboi

I disagree.  The original Xerox GUI was a project in development by Xerox and Steve Jobs saw the potential in it while Xerox did not. Sure, Xerox did come out with a system that utilized the GUI, but Apple created the standard used by computers everywhere.  If you want to trace back and idea and truly find the "original inventor" of something, then I can say the same for pretty much any technology we have to day. Who first invented telephones? We accredit Bell just as we accredit Jobs, but there have been theories that state Alexander G. Bell stole the idea from a person while working at Western Union, so what do we believe?

 

I own one iPod and to be honest, I recently sold it for 60 bucks because I needed cash. I hate Apple technology and software because 1) the tech is so expensive for something that I can build a better version of and 2) the software is only usable with other Apple products, basically forcing you to do a full switch when you dabble with Apple. I think Steve Jobs was the genius of our time though.  He invented things that people weren't sure they needed, but they ended up creating their own niches and dominating them.  Look at how many iPad want-to-bes have been created since the iPad came out.  At first, literally every tech magazine questioned Apple's and Steve Jobs' decision to create such a device, but BOOM! It's not just the tech and the niche they created either. An amazing thing about Apple software is it's ease of use. I barely know a dozen command prompt lines, but any person, young or old, senile or dumb, retarded or ignorant, can use a Mac.

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Tenhawk

Actually, yes, if I learn that someone stole something I no longer credit him with inventing it. Period. The fact that society does just proves that historians are pricks who can't be bothered to get their information straight... well, and that some people are really quite good at hiding the bodies.

In the specific case of Jobs we have a man who ranted and raved about ideas being stolen from him when his entire career was built on taking other peoples ideas and marketing them better than the originator. In THIS case I know where the original idea came from, and it irritates me that reporters and columnists credit jobs with innovation and invention.

In the cases of older history, such as Bell for example, I don't know who developped the telephone. I do know that several people were working on similar concepts and Bell made it to market first. At least that's what I believe today, if I find out differently tomorrow then I will reevaluate.

Jobs, on the other hand, didn't even make it to market first. He waited until the actual PRODUCT was available to consumers, judged the coming swings of technology, then jumped in and store the concept... IMPROVED IT (You have to give this to the man, he was good at making the stuff he stole better), then developed a marketing move to push the item(s) out to his market.

That's not vision, that's just being a slick huckster with a good line. I mean, come on, this is the guy who convinced MILLIONS of people that Apple, with it's rigidly controlled propietary EVERYTHING, was fighting the good fight against Big Brother PC, which was built on an interoperability platform designed specifically to allow all kinds of expansion and innovation. The dude could sell ice to eskimos, in winter, that he picked up their own backyard. 

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Ace of Spades

"In the specific case of Jobs we have a man who ranted and raved about ideas being stolen from him when his entire career was built on taking other peoples ideas and marketing them better than the originator. In THIS case I know where the original idea came from, and it irritates me that reporters and columnists credit jobs with innovation and invention."

 

Thank you for saying that. Finally, I have found someone who knows their shit and lives outside of Apple's reality distortion field. To make things short about what you said (and you're correct BTW), Steve Jobs was just a great marketer. Thats all. Did he actually invent any of that stuff? No (it was actually Steve Wozniak doing 90% of the work while Steve Jobs had a natural talent for swaying peoples minds/marketing). And on top of that, he created the worst cult ever and is pretty much the reason why Apple is sucessful; the iCult (as qued by another user here). This iCult is pretty much the reason why iPad became popular when in reality it was just an oversized iPod touch; and nothing else. Thats not innovation, thats just super sizing things.

It's like baiscally getting a quarter pounder from McDonalds and supersizing it to a double quarter pounder. Its not a new burger, its just bigger and more expensive. But McDonalds (Apple) advertises it as something that you absolutlely need, thats it's the shit to have now. And of course, it sells.

 

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Tenhawk

Well, let's slow down a sec here... Calling the iCult the worst cult ever is a little disengenious. I'm much happier with the iCult than the alternative (Dude could have gone the Jim Jones direction, and I don't want to go to that mental space.)

As to the iPad, yes at least partially. However I've been wanting one of those suckers ever since it was simple called a PADD and rocked LCARS OS. so some of the popularity was built in by other factors than the cultist faction of the iCrowd.

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Khoiboi

Like someone earlier said, History is written by the winners, and Steve Jobs obviously won.  I'm sure thousands of people have invented and created things that were never properly distributed, such as Da Vinci who created the tank and numerous other inventions that were never "properly" distributed and manufactured; it only really matters who made the devices usable to their targeted audience. Jobs did not invent the GUI, but between the GUI that Apple and Xerox created, which one won? 

And no, Jobs had started work on the Apple GUI already even before the Xerox Star came out. What I mean is that Jobs didn't pick the carcass of the Star, it came out while he developed his own version, which the idea original came from a presentation that Xerox held.

And no, the idea behind Apple's 1984 theme for their Macintosh was that IBM was controlling such a major market at the time that each computer would be a daunting mass marketed device that would scare off the everyday user; a majority of everyday consumers didn't use computers after all since the user interface at the time was utilizing command prompt stuff. The initial release for the Macintosh was that it was not a daunting, industrialized machine for a niche of consumers, it was made for the everyday people who at the time didn't understand computer and associated it with everything that they didn't understand. So in hindsight, yes, Apple is a lot more controlling than IBM is due to the fact that you need specialized equipment to even open a Mac, but the everyday user doesn't open their computers, the everyday user needs a computer they can use without updating drivers and other software every two weeks and whatnot. 

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Tenhawk

You pretty much managed to miss every single point I made. Amazing really.

You also have a warped knowledge of history, which brings me back to comment about historians. Dicks. Everyone of them.

the Apple GUI was developped by former members of the Xerox team. This wasn't a case of parallel development. Also the winner between Mac Vs Xerox was Windows. 

And I wasn't referencing the 1984 commercial directly, but rather speaking about the general swing of the Apple corporate culture. And you're also dead wrong about everyday users not needing to open and change their computers. Without that ability you don't get plugin graphics accelerators. You don't get the sound card revolution. You don't get most of the stuff we take for granted today that even macs were eventually forced to adopt.

That 'power user culture' drives innovations which become standard issue on future 'average user' machines. Without the Maximum PC culture that Apple basically tried to stamp out within their own users, and STILL to this day do, you don't get any of the toys we use every single day. To say that everyday users don't need computers that can do that is like saying your average american doesn't need the army, navy, airforce, and marines because they're not likely to get in a war. The average american doesn't get into wars BECAUSE those things exist.

Without the ability to innovate and update the PC platform we'd be decades behind, probably still looking at four or five competing proprietary platforms like the Apple, Commodore, IBM, etc... and still be patiently waiting on all kinds of things we take for granted today.

Jobs vision for the future? One I can gratefully do without.

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Neufeldt2002

^^^Agree 100% with Tenhawk^^^

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Brian Dowding

Genius, and humor!

"I believe America’s greatest strength has been its ability to cultivate the most profitable crop in human history—geniuses.  This country it is the way it is because of men and women with genuine vision and the ability to move that vision into the realm of accomplishment."

I love how there is a glaring grammar mistake right out of the gates, second sentence - and that it occurs in the very first phrase following the word "genius"!!

Well done!  It should stay - it is true humor!

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Brian Dowding

OH NO - they fixed it!

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