I have not written a blog post in some time, so that gives me – the communicator (wannabe) – the fundamental right to vent and rant.
I am pissed at me (word from our sponsors: Despicable Me is out in theatres) for thinking Umair Haque has been full of shit recently. I thought his head was in the clouds (Up in the Air is out on DVD) and he was hanging out with Bill (Maher) and Richard (Branson) smoking doobies and blowing the fluff in the faces of his readers (that would be me – told you it is about me). So why this epiphany, you ask?
It was the Apple press conference. Those that do not know me well and those that do, will tell you I am a major Apple fan (check out my black turtle neck collection at apple.com/stilladork).Like huge man – it’s like Apple is Justin Bieber (relax there is an explanation as to why I know of him) and I am my little cousin, who with a comb in his hand tries to style his hair like Bieber 80% of the time he awake. Well, okay… it is not THAT bad – but the point being: I love Apple products. But that is not the reason I love Apple, the reason that I am so enamored over a tech company is because they are not a tech company. At least they don’t think like one. I am in IT… to the normal human, I am the stereotypical geek, who carries two PDA’s (I do), one laptop and the iPad (that was supposed to replace the laptop), the only original DVD in my collection: Star Wars (I don’t) and someone who gets a power trip out of having “admin” rights to a machine (Napoleon should’ve been a tech. Would’ve saved the blood n money). So to this geek, Apple is great, because it takes the power away from me and gives it to the users. There is no greater goal in IT, then making IT more personal and personable to the end user. I love it to see geeks squirm blaming Apple for taking away their power. Knowing how to right-click, doesn’t make you feel smart anymore, eh?
Then there is the idealism. Apple truly believes that it is not about the market share; sure the market share is a bery bery important thing. But the market-share is a consequence (not the goal) of getting up every day and believing that your single purpose as company is to make great products that people love using. Some (geek alert) may deride them as toys for adults, but isn’t that the whole point though? Using technology should be easy and if you are lucky it should be fun. Applied technology is an extension of our natural senses as human beings… we have used technology to feed and enhance our senses (plug opportunity: retina display in iPhone 4 is amazing!). This interaction if complex can kill the personal relationship between a user and his/her content (and enter desktop support). Apple makes this interaction fun and simple (and natural). Consider the John Ives quote (paraphrased): “For us, it is about removing everything between the user and their content.” Ah the elegance of thought! The C becomes the PC, once the user’s personal data gets on it. It is about “I” first and then the device (iDevice). For all the people that are afraid of using their computers, and have no idea what “runtime memory error” means, they should contact their systems admins. No, I was kidding. They should have hope – a tech company that sees the world from their perspective is the numero uno (press 2 for English) company in the world. About time my brother. About time.
If the boy king has returned and has rightfully claimed his throne – why am I upset? Well because Apple has started doing things that are very un-Apple like. It has started looking like Steve’s left the building and Apple is being run by Nixon. First there was this over-the-top reaction to a lost phone, then the reception-issues with the iPhone 4, then the deleting of comments referring to the Consumer Reports report that does not recommend the iPhone 4 (still calling it the best smartphone out there) and then there was this sneaky press conference on Friday.
Sure you are giving free cases. Sure the iPhone 4 has been the most successful launch Apple has ever had. Sure this problem is not unique to the iPhone 4. We get that. What I did not get is why is this an engineering flaw and not a design flaw. Is the Jobs ego so confusedly bloated now that instead of presenting rational arguments, Apple chooses to hide behind the technicalities of the English language and not admit that the best design company in the world could make an error in the design of a product. Why was Bobs Mansfield present at the conference and John Ives absent? I am okay with the band-aid proposed, what I am unhappy about is the assessment of the problem. It is important to me that Apple admits and fixes problems like these with the same fanfare that is associated with its product launches. That is what leaders do, that is what they are supposed to do – take control of the issue, admit to the mistakes and present a clear-cut plan of action, while reminding their users why they make these products (okay they did that last one). I think the great communicator lost this communications battle. So what if the Bold has the same issue? I have a freaking iPhone in my pocket for a reason.
And what the hell is up with this censoring of information?!? Closing your eyes doesn’t cause the world to disappear. You guys have an unplugged hole in Gulf of Mexico spewing oil by the boatloads? Was that you? I expected better.
Maybe I am over-reacting to this one incident. You are allowed one mistake after a decade of clean, right? Maybe the problem comes with being number one and having the highest market and mind share? Maybe.
But I expected better.
So what does this have to do with Umair smoking weed with Bill and Richard? Umair talks about the current economy being a ponzi-economy. A system that rewards companies for doing bad -I need to buy a house. To do that I will get a loan I cannot afford (shift the risk to the bank). The loan approval officer approves it, because his bonus structure is tied to the loan getting approved (risk shifted). The bank looks the other way and its investment banking arm packages these loans as derivatives that investment guides push to their clients (risk shifted). Banks are not worried at all because they are too-big-to-fail and tax payer will bail them out (risk shifted). Cycle repeats itself and a bubble is created. So you see there is a inherent incentive in the system to conceal information and transfer the risk.
I believe (Umair does not) that it is meaningful value creation that is at the heart of Apple’s renaissance. “Apple had to go back to being Apple” – said Steve. “Do no evil” was Google’s motto, that Apple practiced. The last two months were weird and this time there is no Gil Amilio to blame.