Steve Jobs has created a consumer society that makes many of us sad because we don't have the latest iPhone, said the UK's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Speaking at an interfaith gathering attended by the Queen, Sacks compared the iPad to the tablets of the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from the mountains. “The consumer …
Not entirely accurate
Jobs' and Apple have neither started nor brought about consumerism but the company is the epitome thereof.
Many people would agree that beyond the "superior" hardware quality and their "it-just-works" UX, the vast majority of customer demand for Apple products is borne out of marketing and PR, touting their products as "magical" and "revolutionary" and instilling among some of those customers a sense of superiority over rival products.
Apple have managed to make people evangelise their brand, they've done very obviously and very successfully and that's why this chap has singled out Apple as the best example but consumerism has been around for years and attributing it to one company isn't all that fair.
The iPhone is massively useful and so far each iteration has brought significant improvement.
No magic wand
@MrCheese: "the vast majority of customer demand for Apple products is borne out of marketing and PR"
If that kind of magic really existed, every company in the world would want a piece of it. But you don't win customer loyalty of you don't deliver on your promises - people will just become angry and shop elsewhere. But - at the moment - Apple customers are happy with what they've received. There was a period of time where Apple wasn't delivering, and its customer base was plummeting.
I suspect Jonathan Sacks used Apple to illustrate a problem for the same reason GreenPeace did - it has a high public profile. Apple isn't the cause of the world's ills - environmental or otherwise - but it's useful as an illustration.
"The iPhone is massively useful..."
I'm not going to dispute that, but the iPhone is really not better or more useful than any other smartphone and it *is* a lot more expensive than most. That people still want Apple's branded shiny as opposed to any other type is undeniably a function of marketing.
Sony charge a fair fortune for their branding too.
And it's not as if Nike, Reebok and other "designer" clothing brands aren't exactly the same. The crucial difference being that today's T-shirt with "Reebok" stamped on it is identical to the branded T-shirts they were selling 10-20 years ago. You're paying to be a glorified sandwich board and getting about 50p's worth of sweatshop-stitched clothing out of the deal.
At least an iPhone 4S is demonstrably better than the original iPhone.
Most of those 'many people' are wrong
If Apple won brand loyalty only through advertising and PR and if advertising and PR were sufficient in and of themselves then the Mac wouldn't be stuck at 5% marketshare worldwide, and if the difference were just consumers versus businesses then you'd expect the Mac to be a hot target for the consumer-focussed sectors of the market. However, things like games usually don't get ported and, if they do, turn up months after the marketplace buzz about the product has long since subsided.
In summary: there's clearly some other distinction between Apple's mobiles and tablets versus the competition than merely the brand name and the advertising as both of those distinctions also apple to the computers but the former manage to rack up commanding market shares whereas the latter don't.
I agree with FanMan
I don't really care that I'm in a walled garden, it's really easy to use and does everything I want. If you can afford it, and want it, why not?
If you don't want to spend that money on one of them, you may be very happy with one of the other options, that will probably work just as well. No need to denigrate my choices though.
PS while Sacks does believe in the sky faeries, he is also quite a smart and insightful man as well. It's worth reading precisely what he said, rather than the el Reg tech retelling designed to spark some rage.
"but the iPhone is really not better or more useful than any other smartphone"
Why on Earth do people like you insist on spouting this rubbish as if it were some kind of scientific fact? Have you never heard of Cognitive Science? There are plenty of universities and professors who will explain to you, in no uncertain terms, that user interfaces *matter*. They're NOT optional. And the details play a huge role in the overall experience.
So, no, the iPhone really IS better AND more useful than many other smartphones. That Apple went from zero to major player in such a short time is proof enough.
Apple's original iPhone—which didn't even support MMS and 3G technologies—clearly showed that there's no damned point including a technology in a device if it's an absolute pig to use. People simply won't use it.
Witness all those VCRs throughout the '80s and much of the '90s that spent their entire working lives flashing "00:00" (or "12:00") at their users, because those same users couldn't work out how to set their clocks via their arcane, very confusing, user interfaces.
Apple won their position in the industry fair and square—which is a lot more than can be said for some of their rivals. Stop making excuses for your pet corporation having been so blatantly caught with their knickers around their ankles. They *deserve* their second or third place. As long as they persist in this treating design as their unwanted ginger step-child, they'll stay there.
Good design is crucial. The days when features alone were all anyone cared about are over. The sooner the IT industry's old guard groks this, the better. It's staggering just how often poor design in this industry is applauded, while good design is derided as "dumbing down" for "n00bs". The industry needs to grow up.
> So, no, the iPhone really IS better.
Cite your source please.
"Why do you keep spouting this rubbish as if it were fact?"
Well, it's a lot more factual than the insulting drivel you call an argument. "The iPhone isn't like the other phones in the market that all have the same features, it is better BECAUSE it is shiny! Apple's design is a lot better than the design practices of your pet corporation - who I am completely unable to name or identify, BTW, I'm just throwing this out as a generic insult to everyone who isn't Apple - and you must be a fanboi for some other corporation because you're not a fanboi for Apple... (continues for 73 pages)"
On the off chance that a fact may penetrate the solid bone that constitutes your head, here's a few things I didn't say but you claim or imply I did.
1) I did not say the iPhone was inferior to any other phone. I said it was equivalent, because other phones have the same features.
2) I did not say that any other company was better or worse in the field of design than Apple. This is an extension of 1.
3) I did not say that Apple did not win their leading position fairly. All I said was they are ahead NOW due to superior marketing, which is undeniably true - they've been marketing the iPhone for longer than any other smartphone manufacturer has been seriously doing so, which has established them as the leading brand.
4) I never argued that bells and whistles incomprehensible to the layman made for a better product. I do, however, find your example of VCR clocks to be both specious and risible. If the iOS clock worked the same way and didn't auto-update then 90% of iPhones would have a flashing 12:00 on the screen - and before you think this is an Apple-bash, so would 90% of other smartphones if their OS did likewise.
Now, stop claiming I said things I did not, and try forming a coherent argument based on sense. You are doomed to failure, but it's always worth the attempt.
There are more factors to consider than the user interface alone. A working antenna and lasting battery for example. No sneer, no troll, just stating issues from the past which I have never seen happening on other smartphones.
Exactly how were 3G and MMS a "pig to use" way back when? Preconfigured settings and tapping the "insert picture" button in an SMS app is too much for Apple customers by your "logic". I'm all for insulting iPhone users... but that really is taking things too far.
But yes, good design is indeed crucial and to be applauded. So long as you hold it the right way.
... Which? reckons it's the best one, and so do I. My son thinks the Galaxy is best but he's been wrong before.
I had several Nokias
and finally got fed up of them and the first encounter with the first iPhone was a relief and joy. I had do make a detour to a Blackberry for a while but really no contest so am back with the Jobs Centre for good. Sorted.
have been working to counter the evil Apple cult - witness the Wii
Sounds like a bad case of gadget envy to me. He should get a real job so he could afford an iPad.
I'm actually quite pleased
I don't have the latest iPhone, or any iPhone.
The downvotes for this comment prove that some people have are a very strange relationship with what are just a gadgets after all.
I spent a bit of time working in schools, and observed how many of the kids had cajoled their parents into buying them phones that cost more than my car.
This cured me of the mental process that goes: shiny -> need. There's really no point competing with children to have the newest toys.
That's not to say I don't like or want shiny - I just found that the school perspective gave a useful data-point when working out where my financial priorities should lie.
Someone needs a quiet word
It sounds like someone should tell this guy that the "i" is a reference to "internet", not the first person singular (and then, only in english). Also that "tablet" computer formats are not quite the same thing as the stone tablets of antiquity. Some things just shouldn't be taken literally, no matter how convenient that makes it ti draw the conclusions you've already decided on.
Alternatively, I (me) wouldn't be surprised if his wailing on about iPads is more to do with projecting his own desires that any sort of credible commentary about their affect on consumer society - which predates modern tech by hundreds of years.
> the "i" is a reference to "internet", not the first person singular
I watch Derren Brown quite a bit. His tricks - unless they are just complete falsification, complete with celebrity stooges - astound me.
One of the bits he keeps telling the audience is that supposedly-unrelated repetition of words and phrases has an enormous effect on the behaviour of the audience. And he does seem to be able to get people to choose exactly the things he wants the to choose...
So - If Derren Brown knows what he is talking about - it is entirely probable that the repeated "i" in Apple product names does indeed have exactly the effect Dr. Sacks describes - even if that weren't then original purpose of the name...
... that's Rabbi humour for you. Tablets... geddit?
Hmmm, I think he was making an attempt at a witty quip which sailed over your head, he probably knows the "i" means internet-enabled but with the greedy consumer society we all live in these days it may as well mean "I", as in me.
Envy? Mate, he's member of a religion, if anyone has money to burn it's religious organisations! At one point the Church of England was the biggest land owner in the country.
I think he has a point, the very fact that several million people cack themselves with a excitement when a new mobile phone comes out, says something about life's priorities for many people these days.
"i" is a reference to "internet"
... I don't think it is. It's just a gimmick.
It at the least used to be
That was the justification in the original iMac - because of its ease of Internet setup and access.
Now though I think it's just a marketing thing. Apple devices just have i in them.
Try getting iNternet connectivity on any Classic, Mini, Nano or Shuffle.
@Vic: Me, my Internet and I
> repeated "i" in Apple product names does indeed have exactly the effect
I did see this coming and hoped I'd avoided this thread with reference to the English language. If the effect the Rabbi was referring to was restricted to the English speaking world then he may have had a point. But consumerism and i<products> are both global phenomena - with the vast majority of consumers having no linguistic connection between "I/me" and i<product> names, so the connection fails on that basis.
So far as it being a joke is concerned, I hope he's got planning on making a living from it. I doubt that injecting that sort of bon mot into an otherwise serious piece would have added to it's credibility and I feel sure he could have come up with something better, given the long history of Jewish humour.
'it is entirely probable that the repeated "i" in Apple product names does indeed have exactly the effect Dr. Sacks describes'
That's the kind of thing acid teaches you! At least, if you're seeking enlightenment with it.
What about Android, HTC and other phones - not to mention the plethora of electronic music players out there. They weren't all invented by Steve Jobs, were they?
Outside of Apple products, the desire to throw away perfectly good hardware about a year after you've got it and queue up for a newer device to do exactly the same job is really rather unusual.
I know several people who I would consider otherwise sensible and not prone to materialism or consumerism who have queued up for each new iPhone and iPad on the day of release. I can't think of anyone else who I know has queued up for any other computer product on the first day of release.
Clarification from the Chief Rabbi
"Clarification statement on Steve Jobs / Apple and consumerism
Some of you may have seen articles that claimed the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks made comments that criticised Steve Jobs and Apple for creating a consumer-led society. The Chief Rabbi meant no criticism of either Steve Jobs personally or the contribution Apple has made to the development of technology in the 21st century. He admires both and indeed uses an iPhone and an iPad on a daily basis. The Chief Rabbi was simply pointing out the potential dangers of consumerism when taken too far."
Very good. How about the potential dangers of religion when taken too far?
Like, believing in it.
...and these people want modern society to take their ancient myths seriously?
Not sad, just not religious.
He's doing exactly what he should be doing - discussing socio-political influences on society and their relative pluses and minuses.
Must be true
I have no desire for an iPad and I'm entirely happy about that.
Much as I hate to disagree with the Chef Rabbi...
Jobs did not invent consumerism. It co-exists with fashion and mass production.
He's right to be worried about it though. Consumerisim brings debt and misery and failure to achieve peace and contentment. It is also destroying the Earth. We need to find a post-consumerist model where human survival does not depend on consuming more and more STUFFFF!!!!
My sample score so far:
Still use my tin mug from Scouts (am 60 now) PASS
12 year old car, intend to hang on forever although having trouble getting spared (thanks SAAB) PASS
Got Macbook Air even though black macbook still ok FAIL
Losing weight (thanks myfitnesspal) so working way backwards thru wardrobe PASS
Contemplating iphone 4 though iphone 3 still fine FAIL
Hankering afrer new ski jacked although old one perfectly fine just sick of it FAIL
Have developed fashion-proof all purpose uniform (hiking shoes, polyester trousers, check shirt worn loose) PASS
Give up your TV and your consumption is likely to drop: that'll be another PASS
Absolutely true. I was without a TV for about 3 years and I NEVER missed it, nor was I EVER so productive with my time. Mind you, reading the newspapers, I had absolutely no idea who all the slebs were that seemed to fill every column inch.
Correct me if I'm wrong
But didn't certain prophets in the Bible (if one believes in sufficient historical accuracy in the Bible) warn the Jews about their selfish ways, including such rampant consumerist items like fancy sandals and jewelry, before they were overrun and enslaved in Babylon?
> I had absolutely no idea who all the slebs were that seemed to fill every column inch.
I do have a TV, and I've no idea who half of these talentless gobshites are, either...
I'm not sad
I neither have nor want the latest iPhone or iPad.
Can we not simply treat the opinions of adults who still believe in sky-fairies with the contempt they deserve?
You should treat the opinions on the basis of the *opinion* expressed, not on the other view points they may have.
I am not religious, but I have to agree that advertising (and the psychology used behind it) is possibly the worst invention of modern times.
So, how would you have ever found out about all the stuff you like to buy and consume if the company/manufacturer behind that stuff had never advertised it to anybody and nobody knew it existed?
@Flugal: You are entitled to your own religious opinions.
Perhaps yours are that you believe everything came from nothing for no reason and you have faith in randomness as an inherent property of the universe ? Einstein's famous quote about dice indicates he thought differently. Cleverer than Einstein are you ? Perhaps if you had a little more awareness of your own beliefs you would be more hesitant in condemning the beliefs of those you disagree with.
Luckily I can now discount any comments that you make, though.
"never advertised to anybody" != "nobody knows it exists"
There is a big difference between providing information about products and services, and the psychological manipulation of human desires to create/amplify needs.
1) A basic brochure about some device, say an MP3 player, and showing its battery life, storage capacity, etc, maybe with a picture of said device.
2) A TV advert showing trendy/sexy/attractive people maybe dancing, or looking all happy due to having spunked lots of money on said device.
The second case is about manipulation of desires: to fit in, to be seen as attractive, in order to sell a brand-name product. For those susceptible (the majority, even if unconsciously) the 2nd approach leads to a feeling of being left out, of being disappointed, if they don't have said device, which I believe was the Rabbi's point.
You really did not know that?
But deeper than that, how do you think politicians 20th century onwards, and Hitler as a dramatic example, manipulate the public to support them? Psychology my dear anonymous coward, as started by Freud.
(Do I get any points for Godwining this soon?)