back to article Pay Jobs due respect - by crushing the empire he created

In all the eulogies dedicated to the remarkable Steve Jobs, people seem to be overlooking his legacy: the push to "think different". Rather than buying into his declaration that we should not "waste [our lives] living someone else's life" – namely, his – we see far too many products that seek to ape Apple, not beat it. In his …

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@ian 22

Wait, are you actually saying the iPad is perfect? You can't be that deluded, could you? There's no product in any sector of the IT market (or, really, any other market for that matter) that can realistically be called perfect.

A better wheel? That's been done several times over the centuries. The most recent improvement involved inflatable vulcanized rubber. I'm sure that someone will eventually improve upon that.

Here, hold this anchor. It'll keep you in the real world.

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Devil

Apple usually does not hit the button on first go

It takes apple 2-3 iterations of a product devel cycle to get to a "coveted" form including a form factor. So in fact Apple does not nail anything on the head straight away.

I can give plenty of examples starting with the iPod, Air, iPhone, etc and going as far back as the different MacPro lines.

The difference between Apple and others however is that Apple _IMPROVES_ from release to release even when it is the undisputed market leader in that particular segment.

This is what allows it to remain the leader once it has captured a particular segment.

So in fact Apple has so far been very true to the Jobs' speach at Stanford.

That is something the rest of the industry has repeatedly failed to learn. If something is good enough the development money for a next generation which will cannibalize the current generation market will not be given. This is once again across the industry starting from computers and ending with telecoms.

If you have captured the market the BI "analytics" driving and MBA wielding crowd will tell you to preserve and will shoot you if you even think about deploying an improved product without having an obvious market challenge to respond to.

Just look at what it took to make telcos stop polishing copper and invest in some fiber as an example.

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So true

The fall from grace of Digital Equipment (DEC to you newcomers) was because the VAX was so successful. The higher management at DEC wouldn't entertain work on a VAX replacement until too late, partly because it might have cannibalized VAX sales.

At the time Unix was for workstations, VMS was the driving force in the SMB datacentres, we all know how that ended.

You can improve on, what you believe is, perfection. It just takes the right attitude.

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Bronze badge

Apple's Version 1.0 Syndrome

"It takes apple 2-3 iterations of a product devel cycle to get to a "coveted" form including a form factor."

NO. That's a generally worthless blanket statement. I can think of only one example when Apple required 3 iterations to get it right and that was Mac OS X, whereby version 10.2 (the third version) was the first 'usable' version.

Meanwhile, face it: The iPad v1 was a MASSIVE hit and they got it right the first time. No also-ran has come close to iPad v1 sales or overall quality, despite the camera issue. Note, however, that even here it is silly to use a blanket statement. Apple already had the iOS and the iPad Touch/iPhone as templates for the larger sized iPad.

Apple, like every other hardware and software developer, consistently suffers from Version 1.0 Syndrome. But it is rare for them to not hit their stride on version 2.0 onward. Compare that to Microsoft's record where they consistently have Version 2.0 syndrome as well. The more correct blanket statement would be that Microsoft requires 3 iterations before they get it right. Then there's the Zune where they could never get it right and gave up. Microsoft's now 11 year old 'slate' version of Windows continues to be a huge FAIL. Microsoft's purchased 'Metro' interface has yet to prove its viability despite new iterations.

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LDS
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FAIL

Physical constraints are different from software ones...

Asay can be right under some aspects, but it used the wrong arguments. As a software guy, he don't understand constraints in the physical world. I am not an Apple fan and never bought any Apple device, but there's little you can do it a company gets a physical constraint right at its first attempt - you can do little more than follow.

Some designs became ageless because they are the simplest and the most useful ones. A knife design can't change much without becoming unusable (but in some fantasy movie or game... outside the physical realm). That's also true for phones and tablets. Maybe they can be refined somewhat, but I can't really see any different form factors.

What other companies could do is to fire the bad designers who designed their products, fire the ones who requested and approved those products, and fire the ones who hired both.

IMHO Jobs was not what many thinks today, but surely he had nose for the right products and the the right people to build them.

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Anonymous Coward

"...if a company gets a physical constraint right at its first attempt..."

interesting blog by Charlie Stross on this very subject:

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2011/10/gadget-patrol-bigger-is-better.html

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Silver badge

I think one thing that Jobs got right, that has been alluded to in other posts and recent articles, is the fact that your average consumer gives more weight to ease of use than outright functionality or brilliance of architecture. If said user can just start iTunes, connect their device and have everything taken care of then that is good enough. Drag-drop loading? Most couldn't give a shit. iPhones etc may be popular as a fashion statement but I also think that techies underestimate the total ease of use angle (start this app, connect device, done) by being blinded by their own use-case.

If this (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2361278,00.asp) is what Android has to offer then sorry but it sucks. If you think of phones and tablets as essentially one business, as Apple seems to, then Android or Windows Mobile/whatever needs to come up with a unified iTunes alternative.

Despite being a techie myself I really can't be arsed fannying around with devices/appliances outside of work - take two bottles into the shower? I just want to wash and go. Ease of use sells and Jobs knew it.

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LDS
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IMHO iTunes is one of the iPhone/iPad flaws. I see no reason why I should install and run an application called iTunes to sync my device with data that are not "tunes", especially in a corporate environment. Nor I can understand why it doesn't use a damned standard USB cable I can ask someone if mine is not available.

IMHO MS made one of its worst miskates apeiing iTunes with its Zune software. I by far prefer the way Windows Mobile support was added to the operating system - plug in your phone, drivers are downloaded from it or Windows Update, and an integrated sync center opens (it could be better designed, ok). Another mistake has been forcing to use Outlook to sync contacts and the like - it is too expensive and broad for the consumer user.

But overall Apple has always been very careful about ease of use (but they too missed the usefulness of cut&paste even in a mobile device), while others products often lack the "finishing" touch. Working on one device at a time of course helps a lot to finish it wholly.

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LDS
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This is a blog post from a very particular perspective. A world of devices designed for the elderly would be pretty fun... anyway size matters also when the device is not in use. I have a Galaxy II here at the office for testing, and it is really large to carry around. Nice device, but I would not buy it due to its size.

I still use a plain, small mobile phone when I don't need my smartphone and need something easily pocketable. Also most men forget women have smaller hands. What fits a male hand could be too large for a female hand.

And frankly, most of the times when I use a phone I need something that is designed to be used with one hand only, my thumb should be able to reach everything.

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To quote Monty Python

Yes we are all different.

Er I'm not.

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Anonymous Coward

Also...

...remember Jobs wasn't the messiah, he was just a very naughty boy. Let that be an inspiration to all of us!

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Holmes

Either Or

Some observers suggest that the "true motif" for Jobs/Apple was control over others (perhaps for perfectly valid business reason), i.e. making them "think in unison", while the "think different" slogan was simply hypocritical PR.

The author of this article suggests to take "think different" at the face value. If so, one has to figure how comes that the company's practice went counter to that slogan.

So, hypocrisy or betrayal?

In any case, I fully agree with the "do not try to outapple Apple" argument.

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Anonymous Coward

At a price close to the iPad, there is no other choice than the iPad

because the other players don't tend to charge quite as much.

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Mushroom

Apple iPad Clout: Competitive Pricing On Day 1

"because the other players don't tend to charge quite as much."

This is pure BS with zero support from pricing stats. I'd go so far as to say this ignorance consists of trolling, its that stupid.

One of the fundamental reasons that none of the also-ran tablet makers can make significant gains, and why many of them continue to fall by the wayside, is that Apple got the price right on day one. The only players to charge less are those with smaller screens, cheaper CPUs and no camera, IOW the Amazon Fire. And note how Amazon are NOT calling the Fire even a competitor with the iPad. That 'iPad Killer' idea was the creation of TechTard journalists who should know better.

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Anonymous Coward

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with Caesar.

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Childcatcher

Backward rationalisation

That's how sites like Gizmodo "prove" every Apple decision is the right one.

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Gates never settled?

Oh Gates never settled? Windows 1, 2, 3? Vista? Zune? Windows Mobile? I'm not an expert but from where I sit, I can see a lot of settling...settling for a crappy copy of better things.

Please correct me if I'm thinking incorrectly about it.

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Meh

Come on

Vista got people oohing and ahhing before people got to know it. The bloat wasn't even that big a deal if your machine was fairly decent for its time. My experience with Windows Mobile was limited to a Palm and a HTC Touch, but it seemed no more complicated than a current Nokia which has floundered me even though I sell the stupid things. (Hoping to have a play with one of the N9's we received yesterday to see if it's gotten better...)

I'm not saying each generation was necessarily a massive improvement, but Microsoft have at least made moves to reinvent their product and aren't afraid to risk failure.

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Flame

Billy Gates

He didn't settle, the buying public did by accepting the product he turned out. Don't blame the seller if the buyer is fool enough to part with his money. There are a lot of Microsoft 'fools' in the world if your observation is correct!?

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Ru
Headmaster

Better by what metric?

In the early days, MS were neither rich, nor powerful, nor a monopoly. How did they end up being such a massive force in the computer world when everyone could have bought "better" products? If Apple or IBM or whoever had a credible alternative, what stopped it selling, depite somehow being "better"?

Leaving the notion of magical monopolies bamfing into existence... Zune and Vista came out long after BG stepped down as microsoftie in chief. Hell, even Windows Mobile postdated him, though WinCE started life during his watch.

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Windows

How?

"How did they end up being such a massive force in the computer world"

They did it by forcing OEMs into paying them for every PC sold (as opposed to every copy of DOS or Windows sold) which meant that the manufacturers decided that they may as well give you a copy of the MS OS de jour with your PC anyway since they already paid for it.

Once every PC came bundled with MS OS the ignorant masses began to incorrectly conclude that MS OS came with their PC for "free".

This had the effect of turning the PC into a commodity item and caused profit margins for every hardware maker to be cut to the bone (apart from apple of course) leaving MS in position where they could charge what they like for the OS and the cost would be invisible to the preson paying it.

Other OS makers of course tried to compete but it is hard to compete with "free".

That along with MS changing their OEM license to forbid the bundling (or dual booting) of another OS alongside DOS/Windows* made it pretty much inevitable that MS would end up being a monopoly provider enabling them to act like the malignant tumor that they clearly are on the twitching corpse of the IT industry.

* See BeOS vs Microsoft. BeOS won their court case but were out of business by then

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FAIL

Zune and Vista FAILs = Gates FAILs

"Zune and Vista came out long after BG stepped down"

NO. Check your history! Gates oversaw BOTH projects before he left.

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Anonymous Coward

@Goat Jam

Yet again on the anti-MS tip, or is it still on the same anti MS tip?

The way MS got their monopoly wasn't by forcing suppliers to include DOS on their machines, rather it was by IBM coming to them and asking to bundle DOS on their machines. IBM then paid MS for the software that they bundled. This resulted in the manufacturers of clones (not all, mind - my Amstrad PC1512 didn't come with MSDOS, rather DR DOS+GEM) to request to bundle DOS with their machines, for which they also paid. This lead to an expectation by the PC buying public/businesses that a license for MS DOS would be included with all machines bought, because it had become the de-facto standard.

As for forbidding bundling of competing OSes with hardware they supplied discounted, volume purchased OSes for, that's just common sense isn't it? It runs along the lines of: If you want a discount on my software you aren't going to bundle a competitors software with ours. What's wrong with that?

Whether or not this perceived requirement was abused down the line by MS is another matter, but the initial requirement came from the industry beating a bee line to MS.

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@Goat Jam

You missed a bit.

MS also worked out that selling to the CEO and company board on the golf course was easier than selling to the technical people who knew what they were doing - especially in the 80s when almost no-one had an IT Director and the techies reported to the senior accountant or equivalent.

As a result, it was usually far too late for the technical staff to protest when all the MS boxes started being delivered and they were informed that they would be implementing the new software.

Everyone else was still trying to sell to the technical people, so you would get a situation where the tech teams would do PoC and user testing on several systems that were in the running for something and then the chap with the money would buy whatever MS were selling because they "showed me a demo, told me it was as easy to use as it looks and really simple to look after" - it would never occur to him that these nice sales people who'd paid for a lovely jolly and some delicious food might not be telling the truth.

Made my life hell, but it kept me in gainful employment trying to sort out the mess of this sort of thing for a number of years and kudos to them for getting their tactics right (bastards).

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LDS
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"They did it by forcing OEMs into paying them for every PC sold (as opposed to every copy of DOS or Windows sold".

Please, could you explain how MS did that? I would like to force my customers also.

MS became dominant after Wordperfect, Borland, Lotus/IBM and a few others fired in their feet with crappy products that couldn't match Word/Excel/Access/Outlook in Offfice. I tried for a while not to buy MS and tried both Wordperfect suite and Lotus SmartSuite. Both were full of bugs and worked barely. Eventually, I bough Office.

I tried to use OS/2. IBM bought Lotus and instead of making it writing much needed OS/2 software wasted time to update its Windows software which was already being taken over by Office. Eventually, I bought Windows NT4

That's what made MS the massive force in the computer world. Delivering products that actually worked, maybe not the best but enough to work without too many issues - while competitors made the best to kill their own products.

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Linux

Lemming nonsense...

> MS became dominant after Wordperfect,

> Borland, Lotus/IBM and a few others fired

> in their feet with crappy products that couldn't

> match Word/Excel/Access/Outlook in Offfice.

No. It was just fashionable at that time to put all of your eggs in one basket. It was a diseased meme of the management classes that they should buy everything from a single vendor.

Trashing non-Microsoft products is just the usual mindless screech of the Lemming.

It was annoying back in the day and it's annoying now. It pretty much destroys the main advantage of using the monopoly vendor. There is no point in using the platform that "has everything" if you can't actually "use anything".

You might as well be putting up with Apple users.

I happily used alternatives in those days. They worked quite well. They certainly worked well enough for your average Lemming or office worker.

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Stop

You obviously never had the privilege of listening to PoC users moaning their sears off about trying to use Wordperfect for Windows v1, lotus 123 windows v1, DataEase for Win v1, Quattro pro for window!

Seriously shit pieces of code that were an embarrasment to their DOS versions.

MS apps were good because they wrote the O/S, they wrote the api specs of course they knew how to write the windows apps! Everyone else had to play catchup to MS. Compare how slick the office interfaces were compared to Lotus' crap efforts!

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Thumb Up

For once...

For once, Matt Asay gets it right. With the iPad and the iPhone, Apple got things right *for them*. i.e. they did what was best for their walled-garden model of doing business. There are a huge number of ways that tablet manufacturers could differentiate.

For me, a tablet is a pointless device *unless* I can do something with it that I can't do with a laptop. Where are the outsize (say 13") tablets that have graphics tablet capabilities built-in? Why can't I open, in a split-screen view, a reference (say mathematical formulae) and a whiteboard-type app so I can (for example) derive mathematical models while looking up relevant stuff on the other half of the screen?

The tablet form-factor has tremendous potential, but everyone is busy aping Apple.

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Silver badge

But, my friend

Microsoft Tablet PCs that do just that have been around for who knows how many years.

I have a Pentium III tablet PC from 2002 that has an active digitizer, thus only responds to the pen, and is pressure sensitive.

It's just they were always CRAZY expensive, we're talking £2k+, and therefore never really pushed to the average man.

Your other problem, of course, is poking all the little UI elements in Windows, but this wasn't such a problem with a proper digitizer and stylus. Resting your hand on the screen naturally as you would write on paper is no problem.

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You could write an app for that.

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To think different(ly)

...you must first think!

Harley Davidson are still using the same technology the automotive industry developed in the early part of the last century. Morgan has changed little, Stanley knives are little changed, Swiss army knives are much as they have been, Aga stoves are almost as they were from the outset. They all sell in massive numbers as some products are 'lifestyle' products and I would not hesitate to group many Apple products into that category.

You buy a Big Mac and you know what you are going to get. Apple is very much in that category of a consistency at a price point that the market will bear.

It is the buying public who have been sold the idea that they are being 'different' by buying an Apple product, when in fact they are moving with the crowd of others who are also different in the same way.

I am still using DOS so what the hell do I know!

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Anonymous Coward

@Nick Galloway

Now, to be fair, what about the unbridled success that was New Coke?

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Gold badge

You give Microsoft too much credit. They were lucky as IBM could have blown them out. Apple's comeback was not luck but the result of making good products, you can't tell me that DOS was a good product?

Microsoft built what exactly? Microsoft were BASIC interpreter experts. Sure, it was all written very cleverly in assembler (on the Altair originally) but their success is largely due to luck.

They pitched a fictitious DOS OS to IBM and then bought one from someone else when the deal went ahead. So if anything their expertise was in selling vapourware.

There's no doubt Microsoft and its backers would have had some success, but they wouldn't have been so big without their skill at locking in the OEMs and business.

If Gary Kildall hadn't been so arrogant and gone flying his plane then DOS wouldn't have been on the IBM PC.

Also, the success of DOS and Windows is attributable to Compaq and their reverse engineering of the PC BIOS. Without this move the PC would have remained a very expensive tool.

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Windows

Six Macs in the front room?

Do you live in a shop?

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Linux

6 Macs in the front room...

I had 3 Macs before one of them prematurely died.

They were bought as low profile HTPCs.

The ones that aren't dead now are obsolete though. (Weak GPU)

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The way I see it...

Apple never invented computers, smart phones or mp3 players. What they did was they simplified them so people, who where not technically competent, could understand and use them and believe themselves to be on par with the technically competent people who did not use Apple products.

The downside of this is that the average Apple user is unable to innovate mainly because they remain technically incompetent. And it's for this reason that they would slavishly buy anything Apple would have to offer rather than coming up with something better. It also explains that why, when they seen non-Apple companies making better products, they start chanting the mantra 'don't try- Apple have already perfected it'.

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Paris Hilton

"...the average Apple user is unable to innovate..."

Andrew, is this conclusion based on research? What does an 'average' Apple user look like? What kind of things do they get up to? What exactly is 'technical incompetence'? Your argument does not seem very solid. This '...chanting the mantra...' business: is this based on real world observations or simply your opinion?

On the matter of innovation; remember a computer is but a tool to use as you see fit and, while using the computer, many of us are able to innovate in our respective fields —often without knowing much about the inner workings of the devices we are typing, drawing and calculating on.

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Good one!

Did you know that the World Wide Web was invented on a NeXT workstation? The same OS designed and implemented by e people that run Aplenty now, and which made it's way into being OS X.

What about all the Macintosh and iOS developers, are they not "Apple users"?

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@ChidiO

"What does an 'average' Apple user look like?"

I'll bite ... From my perspective, the `average Apple user` looks like a MallRat.

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@DZ-Jay

You do know that iOS is BSD, right?

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Propagandist Mud In Your Eyes

I can deal with your first paragraph.

But your second paragraph is BS:

- I've never met a 'slavish' Apple buyer. Instead I have found them to be not just discerning consumers but the most demanding of computer users. They don't let Apple get away with any BS and rant like hell when Apple screw up. The effect is further improvement of Apple products.

- The single most technically competent gang of computer users I've worked with have been Apple users. Here is a great example I often site:

Fortune Magazine 11-29-05: 'What's your computer setup today?'

Frederick Brooks: 'I happily use a Macintosh. It's not been equaled for ease of use, and I want my computer to be a tool, not a challenge.'

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/12/12/8363107/

[Frederick Brooks is the author of 'The Mythical Man Month'.

He spearheaded the movement to modernize computer software

engineering in 1975.]

- From what orifice did you pull the concept that Apple users ever chant 'don't try- Apple have already perfected it.' If anyone said that they would be profoundly stupid. The fact is that I have never heard any Apple user say that at any time anywhere. You made it up. It consists of trolling. Bad try. Apple users, being the most demanding in the computer community, say the exact opposite.

The way you see it is with anti-Apple user propagandist mud in your eyes. :-P

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Silver badge

I want to disagree

But I read the article twice and I am still not sure what point is being made.

So I sort of basically feel in disagreement with something or other.

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WTF?

I want to disagree # Me 2!

I also read the article lots and I am still not sure what point is being made.

So I sort of basically feel in disagreement with something or other.

I've been using Mac since OS6, PC since about the same time. Don't have a Jesus-Phone, don't want one. Have an iPad but dunno why, maybe just to see what all the fuss is about. I make my own decisions -- use Win when required - as using Mac - now easier with Parallels on an Intel iMac - 'Fit-for-purpose?' Thought I 'Thought Different' when the Intel iMac arrived - better than a grey-box? Even better when this 27 incher arrived. Hated being forced to go OSX but like it now. (Suppose Assay means this, 'forcing?') Don't like Lion, no Rosetta, so all Apps people grabbing the market leaving part-PPC code bugger-up some of my favourites -- O, another 'forcing,' maybe getting to see now? Lion seems to be forcing me (O, again) to have a 27 inch heavy iPad? O -- now I get it! Assay wants Mac OSX to go open-source? Who gives a flap?? I'm happy now!

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You're talking to the wrong people

If Apple consumers were never supposed to be satisfied with Apple products, Apple would never be as successful as it is today.

No, you should be telling this to the companies manufacturing the devices. As consumers, our end of the deal is to purchase products and enjoy them. It's up to the companies to innovate and not be happy with their current lineup.

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WELL SAID! , GUY,

I AGREE

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Anonymous Coward

"It is the buying public who have been sold the idea that they are being 'different' by buying an Apple product, when in fact they are moving with the crowd of others who are also different in the same way."

Most of the buying public that chooses Apple simply wants a computer than isn't built out of newspaper. Short of a mil spec toughbook there are no other options.

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And you can add a small but significant number who are sick to the back teeth of anti-virus, anti-malware, botnet attacks, incompatible this-and-that, and being taken for a mug year after year.

Sometimes being taken for a mug just once is the better option.

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Happy

err what

what computers have that poor of a build quality? price based i can't think of any shoddy laptop in the same price range as a macbook, maybe thats simply 'coz i don't buy my laptops from the fisho?

most of the folk I've seen buying apple are buying based on either recommendation or the 5 minute shiny experience, and using the price as a backstop in an argument (literally 'its not a cheap laptop so it must be good')

personally I wouldn't recommend a mac to anyone on the F&F SLA (thats the Family and Friends SLA) since they might not break often but generally do break big. The sealed units aren't DR friendly. Saying that I know people who get the recommendation from others who like their mac and don't care about support issues, or quite possibly have never experienced any particular problems. good for them.

I don't know anyone after a general purpose laptop that doesn't buy a HP/Acer/Dell/etc laptop because its not mechanically as resistant to hazards as a toughbook (and i'll assume you're thinking of something like a cf-19 for ratings). I also can't think of anyone in the market for a mil-spec resistance device thinking a macbook is fit for purpose. Happy to prove it by beating your macbook to pieces with my cf-19 and then using said cf-19 to post about it :)

and also, my hp dv6 feels as nicely built as a cf-52, and is better in every aspect bar the lack of a serial port and the glossy screen. my wife's little hp netbook has been vomited on and is still fine after taking out the keyboard and giving it a rinse, like to see a macbook do that. i could keep going but you get the point :)

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Happy

incompatible?

so buy a device that requires you to set up windows via bootcamp with all that extra cost to run all those apps that are simply incompatible with OSX, win!

just as for Linux the virus's and so such are making an appearance on OSX too, soon enough they'll be just as annoying unfortunately

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Where's the perfection?

I'm still waiting for somebody to explain how iTunes fits into the Apple/Jobs canon. It's an obtuse pile of crap that was deliberately designed to prevent people doing basic things with their devices, and it makes Windows Media Player look like the philosopher's stone by comparison.

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