Taking shots at Apple isn’t exactly a new sport. It’s been popular since the dawn of Macintosh.
Back in those days, PCs owned the business market. And here was Apple crashing the party with that silly graphical interface and mouse. Many in the establishment resisted, and they resented the way Apple attacked.
Never mind that Apple had been so loved for popularizing the desktop computer in the first place, or that PCs would so quickly embrace the graphical philosophy. The battle lines were drawn. For many, Apple would forever be the outsider who didn’t deserve attention or success.
Even Apple’s multiple revolutions wouldn’t change that attitude. iPod, iPhone, iPad, iWhatever. For those who disdain Apple, its success has always been easy to explain:
It’s not about innovation or design. Apple takes its ideas from other companies. It succeeds through marketing hype. It’s all flash, little substance and hardly worth the price.
The detractors had to adapt when Apple became the most valuable technology company on earth. Fortunately, success makes a company even easier to loathe.
Now Apple is just too big. It’s greedy and arrogant. It’s anti-freedom. And it’s still not worth the price. Clearly it’s doomed to failure.
For Apple stockholders, these types of claims have never been more than a harmless sideshow. However, one thing changed everything: the death of Steve Jobs.
This is where some might disagree with me.
I don’t believe that without Steve, Apple has suddenly became rudderless, less creative or prone to screw-ups that would never have happened before. Steve made plenty of mistakes. (But he was really good at making mid-course corrections when necessary.)
However, without Steve as the driving force of Apple, people do react to the company differently. When they see an error, or weakness, or a competitor making inroads, they’re more receptive to the critics’ argument: without Steve, this isn’t the same Apple.
I can’t say this is 100% wrong. Steve was unique. Irreplaceable. Things have to be different without him. However, “different” isn’t quite the same as “doomed.”
It’s in this atmosphere of Stevelessness that the Apple detractors enjoy new credibility. Their complaints seem to make more sense. There’s a certain herd mentality at work, where people start repeating the stories even if the facts don’t exactly support them.
In a category where passions run high, this herd mentality can turn into a “horde mentality.” Doing their best to throw fuel on the fire, some are twisting logic in novel ways.
As an example, take this article that appeared on the front page of CNN.com last week. It was lifted from Mashable. In just the third paragraph, writer Stan Schroeder discusses the rumor that Apple might launch a cheaper iPhone:
The moves are described as being “under discussion,” meaning they may never actually happen. If they do, however, it would mean Apple has more or less abandoned its position as the standard-setter in the smartphone market and become just another trend-follower.
Ah, so that’s what it will mean.
Now I’m a very big fan of free speech. I believe every writer has the right to display as much stupidity as he/she deems appropriate.
What bugs me is that a major global news organization would feature such blatantly flawed logic on their front page. Of all the insightful analyses of Apple out there, positive and negative, it’s kind of shocking that CNN would dredge this one up.
Over at Motley Fool, an article titled Apple’s Innovation Isn’t Real, but Does it Matter? talked about WWDC.
The headline, of course, is based on the “fact” that Apple isn’t innovating anymore. Taking it from there, writer Tyler Wolford says this about the new Mac Pro:
Quite frankly, Apple is not innovative; Apple is dependent on other companies to create products for its use.
Damn you, Apple. How dare you call the Mac Pro innovative when it’s built around a processor made by Intel.
And then of course there is the U.S. Congress, which joined the horde by choosing Apple as the poster child for corporate tax avoidance, when they could have summoned scores of global companies who embrace similar tactics.
Sadly for Apple, “between revolutions” is a tough place to be. When people doubt, there is no good answer. Somehow, “Designed by Apple in California” doesn’t have quite the same punch as a shiny, new, world-changing i-device.
If you’re an Apple detractor, these are heady times. Steve’s gone, the stock price has tanked and new products are only a vague promise.
If you’re an Apple fan, you suddenly find yourself in unfamiliar territory. When cornered by doubters, you may have to resort to a line you’ve never had to use before:
“Oh yeah? Just wait.”