So I stumbled across this in-your-face, counter-intuitive article earlier today and thought it was pretty good…and clever too. Just not very original. After reading the piece, I wondered “Haven’t we heard this song before?”
(Photo Credit: Eric Mack / CNET )
Nothing like stirring up a little controversy by predicting the demise of a market leader in order to create some buzz. Well played. Trouble is, Apple has been through this at least two other times before…anyone remember 1984 ? Relax, its all been done before.
Apple burst into the public eye with revolutionary new technology (GUI) and promises of a future where individualism ruled. Suddenly, Mac’s were IT. They were super cool and anyone who owned one felt the same way. Fast forward to the late 80’s and early 90’s and the luster of individualism disappeared as Moore’s Law, Intel and Microsoft pushed the notion of better, cheaper, faster into the mainstream. No longer were computers (and the people who used them) judged by what they could DO differently, but rather how FAST they were. “Haha. My megahertz is faster than your megahertz!”
Apple was heading toward oblivion. They forgot who they were and more importantly, who their customers were. Re-Enter Steve Jobs.
Steve’s return to Apple is the only reason why we are still talking about the company today.
With ruthless efficiency, Jobs cut Apple to its core…and brought focus back to ONLY what made Apple great – its ethos. The energy, the chi, whatever you want to call it. Steve created it with Woz back in the day and was able to dig through the bureaucratic muck to find it again. It started with a little Bondi-Blue iMac that turned heads and turned the industry upside down. “No floppy drive? Oh the horror!”
And so began the second act of Apple. What followed was decades of new products and technologies that kept the competition guessing and the world drooling. And they did it by NOT giving the customers what they (thought) they needed. The did it by starting over. They did it by taking inspiration wherever and whenever it appeared. They did it by Thinking Different.
Of course, Mr. Jobs, the uber-visionary is no longer with Apple, or this world, and we will all suffer as a result. Not outwardly perhaps, but silently, unconsciously. We’ll never know what Steve had planned for us Next. I’m saddened to think that Apple may once again wither away by focusing on meeting the demands of today instead of creating the demand of some insanely great product us mere mortals haven’t even dreamed of yet. Seems nothing breeds complacency like success.
History is littered with people, products, civilizations and technologies that reached “the top” and had no where else to go but down. What endures is genius. Adapt or die is the way of the world. This is just as true in the wild places of nature as it is in the wilds of Silicon Valley or New York City.
While I am certain that we would not be having this discussion if Steve Jobs was still alive today, I am remaining optimistic that there are some loyal, passionate visionaries with the intuition and drive to keep Apple hungry. If not, nature will run its course, like it always does.
Apple may not live forever. Then again, none of us will. But I’d much rather live my life with my head in the Clouds and eye on the horizon than by staring in the rear view mirror worrying about what those around me are driving or where they are headed.
Hopefully, there are folks at Apple who still Think Different after all these years. Only time will tell.
What do you think? Has Apple Jumped the Shark or just been caught with its cruise control on?