Today half the internet is in a state of wild-eyed, priapic excitement over the latest whatever-it-will-be that Steve Jobs reveals today. Geeks all over the world have been metaphorically shaving their legs and sliding on their sexiest underwear in preparation for this moment. (I may have done some slight gender mixing in my sexual metaphors there, but I'm sure you'll cope)
I on the other hand, am less breathless and and doe-eyed. Not because I don't suspect that the i-whatever will be something pretty cool, but because I have become steadily more and more bitter and twisted by the unquestioning drooling and fundamentalism that spreads amongst the population whenever Steve Jobs speaks.
Firstly, lets get over the stuff that Apple does well. They produce cool new products that tend to be ahead of the field. They are also seemingly the first tech company that recognised the value of design and style, and that you can actually spend money on making things look really good as well as just functioning well.
What they really do best though is marketing. Not just producing stuff but convincing many, often thoughtful, people that to own an i-thingy is cool and somehow sticking-it-to-the-nasty-microsoft/PC-man.
But, it's a massive and incredibly rich multinational corporation. You're not supporting some struggling hand-to-mouth co-operative when you buy an Apple. They sell more computers than anyone else. I'm sure they also sell more MP3 players than anyone else, and increasingly are taking a huge slice out of the mobile phone market. It's as if Pepsi had managed to convince everyone that to buy Pepsi and not Coke was some kind of independent-minded, deeply liberal thing to do.
Apple consumers (and you are a consumer, not a style guru), will go around telling everyone how amazing their ipod/macbook/iphone/whatever is this week's gimmick is. You don't get that from other people. You don't hear people who use Windows raving about how amazing their OS is, or people who have a Dell or an Acer or something go on about their computer, but Apple users never bloody shut up about it. Is this because the current Mac OS is better than the current MS OS? No. There have been some very very shit versions of Windows and there have been some equally shit versions of Mac OS. An OS is a like a language - you feel slightly more comfortable using the one that you first used, but you can learn to use another if you chooose and one is not inherently better than the other. In the main, Mac OS does some things better than Windows and Windows does some things better than Mac OS. Big deal. Some people prefer Coke to Pepsi, others prefer Pepsi to Coke. Get over it. You have a computer. It's a product just like any other. And, I might venture to add, an expensive one at that. For whatever reason pretty much everything made by Apple costs significantly more than it's non-Apple equivalent. Given that they have a willing army of evangelists ready and willing to openly masturbate (metaphorically) over their products, they don't even really need to spend anything on advertising so they ought to be cheaper, but no.
I have to hand it to Apple, honestly. They do make good stuff, but this marketing trick is absolutely amazing. I half-expect people to start showing up at the door offering copies of Watchtower and telling me how Apple changed their life, and how Steve Jobs is their personal lord and saviour.
But when I see people I respect and like who've obviously been suckered into the role of willing tool in extending the reach of a massive multinational corporation it makes me sad and makes me want to slap them (gently - I like these people, remember) until they snap out of it.
Apparently one of the possible names for today's big unveiling is the i-con. Seems really appropriate.
…Until We Meet Again Some Sunny Day
3 days ago