Saturday, September 10, 2011

the apple legacy

steve jobs has stepped down. due to illness. it's to that end i will not say anything negative about the man. i will, however, raise my voice at the endless praise he has gotten these past few weeks. the most visionary ceo, the man with the products that impacted our lives most, the genius behind apple's strength (that last one is true).

no one can argue apple products' impact on the mobile world. they have literally transformed how we think about what a phone is or could be, about what to expect from that piece of metal and silicon in our pockets. what irks me to no end is his portrayal as someone who did something innovative (he did) that helped transform the world (he didn't). the iphone and its siblings didn't do anything to transform the world. jobs' success and apple's ridiculous profit margins are not a result of technical innovation but of shrewd marketing.

how so? what transformed the world isn't the ifamily of products; it's the innovation that was built around the family. it's the army of little developers who wanted to make a buck selling large volumes of products at very low costs. the apple legacy is the platform it created, not the "transformation" that was the result of it. i would argue that the platform democratized the world of software development.

history will judge this; take the following comparison (inspired by theonion). faxes are perceived as relics of ancient history. they are slow, clunky, require proprietary paper and/or ink and only do b&w at painfully low resolutions, yet they've survived the revolutions of the internet and mobile phones and all that by virtue of their simplicity and reliability. no one will ever claim that the fax machine was revolutionary. on the other hand, at one point in time, the hottest thing you can own was a walkman. sony transformed the music world (thankfully, it didn't claim that it changed everything again, again, whatever the fuck that means) with its personal boombox.but the cruel reality is, people will still say something like "fax me that document" and unless you work in a museum, people will never say "hey can i borrow your walkman real quick?"

my point is this: 10 years from now we'll all be walking around with devices that are not phones nor tablets nor computers, devices that let us communicate and find information and work. we don't know what these are (retina implants? thought reading gizmos? star trek style comms buttons? we can't imagine them any more than mr. graham bell coming up with the idea of a mobile phone). but we can deduce from history that what we won't be is tethered to a single product, and when apple is mentioned it will be with some nostalgia to something we all used when we were younger, sort of like that yahoo email that you still hold on to.


Charlotte said...

RIP Steve Jobs, but I'm really not a fan of apple..

hilda dada said...

Nice post. Thanks for sharing useful information. painter

Sean said...

Nice blog hey can you check out my blog im trying to get it off the ground but its okay if you cant