Monday, July 5, 2010 at 03:27PM
Apple's expertise is creating an emotional connection between their products and their consumers is legendary--and rightly so. Their superb skill at eliciting an emotional response does not mean they are always capable of controlling the nature of that response. It's nearly guaranteed that any entity with passionate fans will also create passionate critics.
And not out of jealousy, though that may certainly be true in some cases, but instead out of a fundamental disagreement on priorities.
Apple believes that a carefully designed, carefully controlled user experience makes great products. Without going any further into executional tactics, this founding philosophy is divisive. The trigger word here is "controlled".
I've become much more suspicious of Jobs' business practices than I once was. To me, he looks increasingly like Gates in the late 90s, with a lot more charisma and far better propaganda. In the Flash debate from a few months ago, for example, he was unwilling to demonstrate why supporting Flash is bad for the user experience, and he hasn't explained why Apple is the only 1 of the 5 mobile / tablet OSs to refuse to support a web media standard on his media devices.
His message at that time sounded like this:
"We know that our products don't display a substantial amount of content available on the web. We know you'd like to see that content. But we think Flash is a rotten 'standard', and we don't like it. There's already a better standard on the horizon: HTML5. We know it's not available or in use, but it's what you should wait for.
Do you feel my indignation about Flash being bad, and an unavailable technology being good? Join me! Join my indignation. Because those other people--the ones who want Flash--they're conventional and backward and blind. We're the ones, you and I, who can say that we should start throwing off the shackles of Flash today, and wait happily for HTML5."
I love the design and execution of Apple software and hardware. As someone passionate about consumer product design, I can't imagine being anything less than highly impressed with what they've accomplished. But I've spent most of my career (and perhaps personal life) trying to build alliances or facilitate agreement of some kind. Apple's unilateral tactics just look ugly to me. And Jobs unwillingness (or inability) to understand his critics is looking increasingly like the petulant monopolist Gates once way, a man many of us grew to dislike based on public persona.
Make no apologies. Take no prisoners.
What happened to the Apple I used to love?