Are you required to explain? Or, would it be more appropriate in the argumentation to agree upon a few definitions? That’s the nature of argumentation and debate. Unfortunately, that’s not what you’ll find much of in today’s analysis of Apple Inc. or APPL.
Ding vs. Ding
Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times and The Incredible Shrinking Apple:
Steve Jobs wanted to put a ding in the universe. Today, Apple wants to ding your pocketbook.
What a great headline. But it’s not as if Steve Jobs did not charge for the company’s privilege of making dents in the universe, right? Apple II? Big dent. Apple III? Not so much. Mac? Big dent. NeXT? Not so much. There is little question that Jobs wanted Apple to impact the world (also known as the Universe), but also no question that Jobs knew how to make a buck in the process.
Since becoming the first trillion-dollar corporation last summer, Apple has battled a souring assessment on Wall Street. The iPhone is the most profitable product in the history of business, but more than a decade after its debut, pretty much everyone on the planet who can afford one already has one, and many customers see little reason to upgrade.
This is why argumentation and debate requires definitions. “Many customers?” Apple will sell over 200-million new iPhones in 2019. How many are not upgrading? Nobody knows. Guesstimates rule. But it’s not as if Apple’s bank balance is hurting.
So now, instead of selling better stuff to more people, Apple’s new plan is to sell more stuff to the same people.
Let’s debate that.
Did Apple stop selling better stuff to more people? No. AirPods. Watch. Powerbeats3 Wireless (I want them). Apple’s products improve with every new generation so that consideration is just false.
How about “Apple’s new plan is to sell more stuff to the same people?” Wrong again. That is not a new plan. It’s same old, same old for technology hardware companies. That’s what companies do.
What about the recent uptick in Services products– specifically, the recent affair which launched Apple News+ and Apple TV+ and Apple Card and Apple Arcade?
Apple’s affair was a brushed-aluminum homage to sameness — a parade of services that start-ups and big rivals had done earlier, polished with an Apple-y sheen of design and marketing.
Does that not sound exactly how Apple conducts business?
There were point and click PCs before the Mac, portable music players before iPods, smartphones and tablets before iPhone and iPad, smartwatches before Apple Watch, wireless earbuds before AirPods. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Apple’s methodology is to be late to the party, then become the lead dancer.
None of these efforts look terrible. Some, like the news service, might be handy. Yet they are all so trifling and derivative.
Then quit your bitchin’ because you have failed to learn from Apple’s history. The new Services products don’t look terrible? Then what’s the issue? They’re derivative? Hello? Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Watch, AirPods. Pay attention.
Yes, Apple is middle aged now, but can one argue that the last ding in the universe was the last product Jobs announced– Apple’s iPad?
Apple is turning into something like a digital athleisure brand, stamping out countless upscale accessories for customers who love its one big thing, a company that has lost sight of the universe and is content merely to put a ding in your pocketbook.
Again, a ding in the pocket is nothing new, right? Watch, with a blood pressure function and the ability to read blood glucose, would seem like a universe denting kind of product, no?
Methinks Farhad Manjoo has merely accomplished what The New York Times does best. Concoct a hit piece on a big target, but without the aforementioned debate definitions, coherent logic, and full understanding of the company being criticized.
Need an example?
Indirectly, Apple’s devices are implicated in the rise of misinformation and distraction, the erosion of privacy and the breakdown of democracy.
So does electricity. And the ability to read. Nonsense.
None of these grand problems is Apple’s fault, but given its centrality to the business, Apple has the capacity and wherewithal to mitigate them.
Does not the walled garden count? Does not Apple’s stance on privacy count? Does not Apple’s history of security– vs. Windows and Android– count?
Google will pay Apple an estimated $12 billion in 2019 to act as the default search engine on the iPhone.
Not a fact in evidence.
Take messaging, for starters. There is a strong moral case for Apple to turn iMessage, its encrypted messaging app, into an open standard available to anyone, even Android users, who currently lack many privacy-minded messaging apps that aren’t run by an ad company or aren’t friendly with the Chinese government.
There are many dozens of strongly encrypted messaging standards available across all platforms. Apple’s Messages is but one, and an Android version would be but another of many. That entire premise is invalid.
Big ideas are easy to create. Ideas that actually change peoples lives for the better take more time to grow. Manjoo and The New York Times would be better off dealing with issues that matter vs. attacking one of the few companies that actually has a track record of standing up for human rights, and actually put some dents in the universe, and continuing to do so. Dents cost money.
Betteridge’s Law of Headlines notwithstanding, has Apple really lost its way?
History and the universe will judge, but I see The New York Times and their collection of writers– masters of yellow journalism– to be a bigger threat than Apple’s inability to be perfect in every light.
Great headline, interesting premise, completely unbalanced perspective on the reality of past and present.