If you follow my twitter @MrLichtenstein (I have an @ManPoweredFilms I don’t really use, mostly so I own that name) you’ll know I beat the New York Times to the announcement of Steve Jobs’s resignation as CEO of Apple. I have some thoughts on this that, if you’re a regular of my blog may surprise you.
First of all, I think it’s very sad that he is sick. I do joke about it sometimes, but only because cancer is one of those things you have to smile at, since there’s little else that can be done. My mother had it twice. It’s a heck of an opponent. I like the Churchill quote, “I like a man who grins while he fights.” Jobs has done just that.
When he came back from the wilderness in the 1990s, he lead Apple from being a shithole company that made frankly very bad products with poor customer support to one of the most successful companies in the world. I’m not saying their customer service got much better, or that their products were really that much better, but he did help them move on. Just as how Eric Schmidt’s cutbacks at Google may change its culture for the worse, so too may Steve Jobs’s departure hurt Apple. I don’t think the culture of Apple works unless you have a top down mind like Jobs’s. Google is about crowd sourcing ideas. Apple is about turning to the Messiah.
There are a lot of things I don’t like about Apple. I don’t like the fact that it isn’t open source. I don’t like that it’s so expensive. I don’t like that you can’t just buy the OS and put it on any old machine. I don’t like that the Apple hardware itself isn’t always as well made as it is pretty. I don’t like the lack of PCMCIA slots on their laptops. I don’t like the Porschesque market driven way they set up their computers and mobile devices. I don’t like that the iPad doesn’t have a proper USB slot. I don’t like that the iPad doesn’t have a memory card slot. I don’t like that Apple has used its market clout to push other media software makers toward the fringes of the marketplace by making Final Cut Pro so different from other programs that using it actually enfeebles editors’ ability to work with other programs. I don’t like that the OS on iPads iPods and iPhones isn’t actually very good and yet Apple refuses to update it despite the existence of Android. I don’t like that the Apple OS has enfeebled so many of its users that they cannot find their way around on any other PC. Frankly, I don’t like the idea that people think of “PC or Apple” in as much as an Apple is a kind of PC, not a different kind of machine.
I do like some things about Apple however. For all its flaws (and I haven’t even begun to list them above) Apples have made it possible for stupid people to get on line without the hurdle of learning to use a proper computer. Apples have allowed grandparents to sext, art school grads to use Adobe without learning anything technical and of course provided jobs to a generation of child sweatshop laborers who would otherwise be working in the sex industry.
Jobs is a visionary. I won’t say a genius. He’s not one. He is a visionary though. In time, we’ll see a few more, so long as corporate culture encourages every person to be their own personal skunkworks. Like Google. In 2005.