SAI Contributor Hank Williams is a New York-based entrepreneur. He recently launched a new blog: Why Does Everything Suck? Exploring the tech marketplace from 10,000 feet.
In the last week we have seen the three faces of Steve Jobs.
The side I like the most is Steve as philosopher. This is where he challenges us to “think different” about who we are and what we are doing. The iPhone represents the philosopher Steve. The iPhone offers us an opportunity to do things that we have never done before and to do things we have done before in a different way. As I have written before, at the MacWorld keynote, Steve offered up an important paradigm shift for the iPhone that went mainly unnoticed. Steve released easy location aware mapping on the iPhone. This is Steve as philosopher because, as with philosophy, the implications of the location technology are more abstract, but in a sense, also far more important. You have to think several steps ahead to fully grok the import.
But while I think that the iPhone and mapping will have the largest long term impact on us as a culture, the highlight of Steve’s keynote was the MacBook Air. This is Steve as artiste. The Air is light, thin, and sexy. As with all of Apple’s best products, one could be describing a beautiful woman, or a museum worthy piece of modern art.
For me, the Air is not a game changer. It doesn’t effect the way anyone will do anything. And yet, it reflects one of the critical drivers of Apple’s success. Long before anyone else in the computer game, Steve realised that form was as important as (or perhaps more important than) function. He saw that they are critically intertwined, and that if you can get people to buy something because it makes them *feel* good, you can protect insanely great margins.
And finally, yesterday we saw the ugly side of Steve. Yesterday we saw Steve as the petulant child. First, he trashed the Amazon Kindle. Fair enough. Lots of people have done that. But the reason why was a killer. Because we, his customers, are all too stupid to read.
Then he went on. Google should not make phones. It will just confuse people. And he said, “having created a phone, it’s a lot harder than it looks.”
I’m sorry but this just makes Steve sound like a whiny, immature, self-absorbed, stupid little twit. It also makes him sound just like Ed Colligan of Palm and Steve Balmer of Microsoft who said exactly the same thing about Apple’s entrance into the cell phone game. Apple can’t just walk in and make a cell phone. Its hard. We’ve been doing this for years.
There is plenty of room left for innovation on cell phones. Apple just showed us how badly everyone else sucked. Thankfully, I suspect we are done with the petulant child for a while. At least until the next time Steve’s PR handler has to take a bathroom break. Please send the philosopher back.
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