Making the front cover of Time means your product is better?
If anything, it's a unified ability to get people to "do their best work". And it shouldn't stop there, and that shouldn't be as painful as it has often gotten. It can and should be par for the course, no unpleasantness required. Much research has gone into this area of corporate culture - the unpleasantness isn't required.
It's interesting, you know -- it seems that Apple is Steve, and perhaps vice versa. And Steve has this "thing" for "devices". He's obsessed with the device. The black cube, the sleek sexy all-in-ones, and that's cool...
But did you ever notice how it really wouldn't mean anything if Microsoft wasn't ubiquitous? In other words -- to have that cover of Time magazine (and to have it mean anything significant), Apple has given up 35%-45% of desktop market share (or better). How on earth is that worth it? Price of success? Hardly.
Apple plays off of Microsoft's ubiquity and plainness. In a world where 90% is Windows, Apple stands out. In any other world, it would be more like Frank Lloyd Wright or Pininfarina. Nice, interesting, beautiful, but decidedly niche. It's front page material because of everything it's given up to not compete with Microsoft. Of course, then the question is does Wall Street value market share, or is it more important to go after and get 91% of the $1000+ PC market? Passion for the "The Device".
It's the only way to make the concept of a "device" work in the marketplace. Play it off MS's ubiquity. Bounce it off Windows' boring and often generic nature. Migrate the focus to uncharted territories -- wireless, controversial Napster territory, and so forth. Contrast it to ubiquity, blandness, and low-budget compromises, and use your awesome resources to leverage your way into entrenched, stifled areas. Not so much to help the consumer, but to peddle "The Device". Point being, Apple can do better. Apple should do better.
Is it really necessary to make the front cover of time to give stockholders a good deal? To give customers a good deal? Is my consumer experience made better if my device is on the front cover of Time? Or is it purely stroking someone's ego? Could tens of millions of dollars be made by simply COMPETING with Microsoft (something Apple is capable of doing quite well at this point in time)?
Unfortunately, great leaders tend to "go nuts", sometimes, taking down entire leagues of followers with them. It's the nature of genius, perhaps. Seeing things others don't see, while fixated on a narrow goal -- in this case, "The Device". A flying saucer landed in my back yard and left me with this unique, fascinating object. Get over it, man. Apple, essentially, wants to have its "devices" (at least in the PC world) stick out so much, it's willing to give up perhaps 45% market share on the desktop to Windows, perhaps similarly significant market share to Linux on the server side, simply to have its devices "stick out". And the consumer loses choice, the developer gets frustrated, the employee loses significant quality of life. Pointless pain and suffering, unnecessary inconvenience.
To some extent, this "sticking out" is leveraged by gains and innovations with the ipod and the iphone, perhaps the tablet -- but man oh man -- an MSI Wind or Dell Mini 9 running OSX86 rocks. Where's Apple? Do they care about the consumer at all? Or just the image? Exactly how much do they sacrifice to maintain that image?
It's such a shame too. I guess it all boils down to this -- Steve is an inspirational dude, he runs a tight ship, and that tight ship has historically churned out some nice, innovative hardware and software products -- and continues to do so. But... consequently... Apple is CAPABLE of much more. We KNOW Apple can do better than it's doing. You may say it's doing great, but we KNOW it can do BETTER. Much, much, much better.
Apple is capable of doing better. It's the genius student, the teacher's pet. Yes, those are unreasonable standards, but Apple is capable of matching them and then some. It CAN do better, but it's fixated on "The Device". It needs to stop trying to be Ferrari and take advantage of the biggest opportunity in the world -- being more like a Honda or a Toyota. Both in the mobile, desktop, and server arenas.
The mobile arena is the only place right now where the "device", or Frank Lloyd Wright concept still works at all, due to the mobile arena's expanding and morphing "nature", which, arguably is essentially a result of an entrenched, profit-hungry, consumer-unfriendly environment. Apple is at this point, obviously, having a hard time balancing this entrenched, unfriendly nature with its "passion" for peddling "The Device". Sad, really, if you asked me. Although good things might come out of it -- more openness, and so forth. How much that has to do with Google, that's also a good question -- probably Google is doing more here to move that along - has Apple inspired them? Perhaps, perhaps not. Google might have done it anyway. Nevertheless... innovative, superior technology is applicable everywhere. Apple is totally capable of this and then some. Apple is capable of MORE. Much, much, much more. That may seem unfair, and perhaps it is, but when you've got it together like Apple does, and Windows has 90% market share, it's rather insane (and extremely sad) to not let that light shine.
Don't get me wrong... Apple is doing great, but they can do so, so, much better. Apple could easily have 45% market share on the desktop, and maybe a significant share on the server as well -- the technology is there, the software quality is there, and it would be a shame to see something like OS X get relegated to a non-multitasking, insecure, flashy, ego-centric, overpriced yet brilliantly conceived mobile device, when it could be so much more -- how many people would rather have an MSI Wind with OS X for $300 something and choices from there vs the overall price of what an iphone costs?
I think we're in a position where we can't just let Apple do what it wants. The consumer stands to lose too much. Innovation stands to lose too much. The only thing Apple has cared about up to this point is "The Device". This needs to change. Microsoft at 90% on the desktop, this is totally unfair to the consumer. Competition is good for everyone. Competition will allow Microsoft to innovate and compete on those innovations, competition will allow Linux to innovate and compete on those innovations, and this will be good then.
Main thing, then - Apple can do better. Apple can be more. Apple is the only hope right now for any choice whatsoever for the vast majority of people out there who don't have the time or technical knowhow to deal with Linux. And that's a lot of people. $1 from each of those people would probably buy Time magazine outright.