Musings on the Death of Steve Jobs
Of course, there are much more important topics to be worried about, like the fact that the global economic and political situation seems to be destabilizing in numerous ways. But this is a techie blog, so we’ll forget about all that for now.
Since Jobs died, I have read far too many tributes about all the wonderful contributions he made to the tech world. Well, to be fair, he was more or less responsible for many shifts in the tech industry. Whether or not those shifts have actually benefited humanity as a whole, well… that’s a whole other ball of wax.
He was also, according to many reports, quite an ass at times. And let’s not forget about the infamous Reality Distortion Field (henceforth referred to as the RDF)…
Apple’s new lack of a its Reality Distortion Field is the primary reason why I believe that Jobs’ death is in fact the beginning of the end for Apple.
I’m not the only one that thinks this way. For example:
“It’s been 16 months and all you’ve got is an A5 processor in the existing iPhone 4,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners. “It’s a mild disappointment, but they’re still going to be selling millions of units.”
Now, this is the kind of comment we rarely would have heard before. If Steve Jobs announced a new product, people wanted it BADLY. Why? Because of the RDF. Had Jobs presented the iPhone 4S, it wouldn’t have been just a refresh; it would have been, “Our Best iPhone Yet, and Holy Crap Do You Really Want to Go Buy One!“ And you would have gone to buy one…
Of course, Jobs has set up an “Apple University” to “pass on his DNA” to future Apple leaders. But let’s face it: no one else will be the same. When Jobs was away from Apple, the company tanked. When he came back, it sprang back to life. I think this was in large part due to his “influence”, shall we say.
A day after his death, even news outlets like the Wall Street Journal are no longer ultra-fanatically pro-Apple. So what changed?
One might argue that when Jobs could convince people that an iMac with an effectively “underclocked” laptop version of an Intel processor was actually faster than a full-speed desktop version of the same processor in another computer, he obviously had a certain “talent”. Yes, I know everyone thinks that OSX is so light and fluffy that it will run on a rusty garbage can, but reality says otherwise.
He was also obscenely rich, had connections in the media and politics, and let’s not forget the fact that Apple loves to sue anything that moves to get its way… at least under Steve Jobs. Apple even convinces the largest of component manufacturers to give them “special deals” simply because they are Apple!
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Yes, in some ways, the man was a visionary, a luminary, or whatever else you want to call it. But he did not invent the PC, the smartphone, the tablet computer, or even the graphical user interface. He popularized many of these things, so to speak, he sold them for far too much money, and he made you believe that you were special because you paid too much money for something that you didn’t really need. And you admire him for this?!
Honestly, is the world a better place because everyone and their dog now constantly has white buds stuffed in their ears with their music blasting? It is no coincidence that Apple products start with a lowercase letter “I”.
Brilliant marketing, really! Unfortunately, it glorifies the worst of humanity instead of the best. Yes, that’s what marketing is all about. But if you really think about it, you will realize that Apple takes marketing to a new level. Read the book Propaganda by Edward Bernays.
Anyway, Jobs made you believe that the LCD panel in your MacBook was SO beautiful and far superior to those in mere mortal PC laptops – yet when you look at the specs of those “special” LCD panels, you find that they were generally technically inferior to – or exactly the same as – most mainstream laptop panels (if you don’t believe me, look it up).
I will grant that there were notable exceptions – the cinema displays were another story, for example.
Getting more to the point: You believed it because he wanted you to believe it. People reported it because he wanted them to report it. You didn’t need an iPod, and then suddenly you couldn’t live without one. It was the RDF. Which is a nice way of saying something else…
Now, getting back to the more practical business/technology side of things…
Consider the “tepid” response to the iPhone 4S announcement. Then consider that companies like Microsoft certainly knew Jobs wouldn’t be around forever. Then consider what Windows 8 will bring. Then consider that Apple was the primary reason that Microsoft got off its arse and finally released Vista, and then polished it up and turned it into the very successful Windows 7.
Not only is the RDF gone, but Microsoft is now in a prime position to once again become essentially a monopoly. Already, end users are raving about Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango”. WP 7.5 runs great on “inferior” hardware (read: single-core processors). People don’t care about hardware – they care about their experience with the device. And Windows 8 will run on phones, tablets, PCs, and probably your washing machine and toaster – even if it uses an ARM processor. This was not an accident. M$ knows what it’s doing.
So, don’t think I’m terribly happy about all of this.
It’s true that I certainly won’t miss Jobs. I didn’t know the man or his family personally. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t believe that doing something “great for technology” is always great for the world. There are details to consider. Technology is technology, not the end-all and be-all of existence. Yes, I love my techie toys too, but in short, you are you, not your damn smartphone. Technology is a tool – nothing more.
I would love to see linux driver support become a whole heckuva lot better and more convenient for end users. That is the only way that linux could become more popular. Because as it stands right now, I do believe that Apple without Jobs is not Apple, and that means Microsoft will rule the world, which I also don’t like. And no, I haven’t forgotten about Google, Android, etc.
So, that’s my take on the situation. But, ya know… I’ve been wrong before!