Thursday, March 22, 2007

Drinking the Apple Juice (tm)

Steve Jobs has amazing - and frightening - control over American culture and our collective consciousness. Not only can he tell us what they want, and when we want it, his power transcends technology to even influence fashion and color trends.

I remember when the first "berry" colored iMacs came out in the late 90's. At the time, I worked in the video game industry - for an accessory company. We made joysticks, controllers, memory cards and such for (at the time) Nintendo 64, PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast. We had made colored game controllers in the past (no one really cared), then the translucent berry "flavors" of iMacs came out... and suddenly the public, and more importantly the retailers, were screaming for "blueberry" (and every other berry) PlayStation controllers. It was a major pain in the ass to manage the inventory of all the different colors of the same product, but Jobs had convinced the public that their hardware needed some pizazz.

Fast forward years later.... and Jobs makes white the new berry. Everyone follows suit.... every MP3 player manufacturer, every headphone manufacturer, even Microsoft with the Xbox 360. When the device manufacturers out-featured the iPod by adding video playback, Jobs goes on record numerous times saying something to the affect of "who would ever want to watch video on a 2 inch screen?!". Making us feel stupid for even considering the notion that it could be kind of cool in the right situations. That is, until he is ready to launch his own video-capable device and then strolls onto stage and says "look at what we invented, isn't it incredible?!". The public eats it, and million of his devices, up.

His most notorious (in my eyes) injustice perpetrated upon the American public, was the propaganda and distrust he instilled by his repeated positioning of "rented" music versus "owned" music. I've gone on about this dozens of times before, so I'll spare you my thoughts this time. But, as the market data overwhelmingly shows... he did it again. He says what we should believe, and we gladly listen and obey. "Whatever you say oh Mighty One."

I don't want to pick exclusively on Steve, he's not the only one that takes this tact. But, he is the most successful at it, therefore he bears the brunt of my distaste for the practice.

Now of course, the iPhone. As I've said before... I really hope it will be a complete and utter failure. Newton Part 2. Mac Mini the Sequel. Lisa on Broadway. I've seen the same pictures and video of the iPhone as all of you. I've talked to people that have seen it in person. Consensus? It's doesn't suck. Far from it... it looks to be quite an impress piece of silicon, software and plastic. Partly, Jobs gets us to believe by delivering, but some of it is via manipulation.




My buddy Ted has coined a term for this phenomenon where we, the public, blindly believe... he calls it "drinking the Apple Juice". I just wish I could enjoy the (admittedly) tasty products without all the nasty aftertaste.

So says the man that is writing this on his new Powerbook...

1 comment:

steven walcott said...

first off, i really enjoy reading your blog. i have an independent music label, and it's very cool to read someone who is obsessed with music and music delivery.

second, and more importantly, i've watched in horror as apple has gotten more and more control over music. i think part of the power lies in the sad reality of how clueless the large record labels are. as you point, there is much lame in what apple does, but it is still more pro and effective with consumers than what the large labels are doing. as a recording engineer i'm confident steve jobs will burn in hell for marketing the mp3 format as 'cd quality'. man, i gotta stop writing, my blood pressure is rising.