A smidgen of schadenfreude & a lot of disappointment – Advice for Tim Cook


I am not known to sit on the sidelines and so am going to wade into a debate that some of you are interested in, and others will probably close this tab the instant they read the title, so here goes some (more) Apple-bashing with a smidgen of schadenfreude.

Joke's on you!

Joke’s on you!

Apple-bashing, a favourite subject of many a disgruntled tech bloggers who have had to cope with an android phone (or, god forbid, a Windows phone!) for reasons of their own and are now sitting with their new HTC or Samsung, rubbing their hands with glee. The news is out… Apple is no longer cool and it is nothing to do with their super cool products, but the fact that parents have made it uncool.

Chris Matyszczyk, one of the contributors to Cnet.com has written that research conducted recently (it is always recent and always right isn’t it?) says that mums and dads are giving away their old Apple products to their teens and hence teens are now experiencing a hand-me-down-hangover. We are all painfully aware that most parents are not tech savvy enough to customise their phones with Androids so they buy “this will work straight out of the box” Apple products as they are guaranteed something that is easy to use and works from the moment it is unwrapped – no Apple map jokes people, this is serious!

This “hangover” of sorts has led to Apple becoming the plaything of parents and the verdict from teenagers is that Apple is now “the establishment”. And we all know what that means: imagine, if you will, images of stuffy, oak-paneled room belonging to some flunky from Whitehall who has been posted to a far flung colony to look after the Empire’s interests, sipping pink gin and waiting for his manservant to serve his afternoon tea – an exaggeration, I grant you, but you get the point now.

Therein lies the rub as Matyszczyk (rightly) expostulates on Cnet.

However, what he misses is that the rot in the kingdom lies in the murky psychological and anthropological depths of our minds and their formation and not Apple, which is still continuing to do a  sterling job cranking out gadgets that work. I have mentioned in an earlier post last year, about the Cult of Apple, and I will reiterate that again here.

Apple is not cool. It is technologically sound, in fact, sound may be an understatement, like saying, Michelangelo’s David is a nice statue, but sound is not what we want anymore. Our fickleness and innermost yearnings for the David and Goliath stories that we have been hearing since we were children has shaped our psyche and we will always vie for David (okay, so comparing Google to David is probably not the most accurate description, but for these purposes, I am sure you will forgive me the indiscretion).

Yes, Apple is the benchmark product by which we judge others, however, the problem with benchmarks is that they are there to test against, to better and hopefully to surpass, not just to reach, otherwise it would be a goal, not a benchmark.

Apple needs to learn from its Maps fiasco rather than follow its own directions. It needs to invent something new and Ive (who actually is an establishment figure now, having been knighted by the Queen) needs to design something new to reinvent human interaction with technology. Easier said than done, I hear you say. If it wasn’t we would all be doing it, and clearly, some of us are (see the Samsung Galaxy Note 2)!

It is not so much the (black) hole that the untimely death of Jobs has left, it is the fact that Apple has become, dare I say it, staid and boring. So I will take my argument one step further than Cnet’s Matyszczyk (who has a habit of reporting rather than questioning) and direct a question at Mr Cook:

Take a risk Mr Cook – and I mean a real one!

Do not sit on the laurels of your predecessor and crank out oh-so-boring-though-well-made bits and bobs that are just there to satisfy your margins and rake up even more cash which you are neither returning to shareholders nor using to buy up the rest of the world.

Continue to shape the world, as your company once did, not follow it, as you are now doing, and that too somewhat unsuccessfully.

I would like to finish with a joke for all you nerds out there:

Three programmers were in the bathroom standing at the urinals. 
The first programmer finishes, walks over to the sink to wash his hands. 
He then proceeds to dry his hands very carefully. He uses paper towel after paper towel and ensures that every single spot of water on his hands is dried. Turning to the other two, he says, “At Microsoft, we are trained to be extremely thorough.”

The second programmer finishes his task at the urinal and he proceeds to wash his hands. He uses a single paper towel and makes sure that he dries his hands using every available portion of the paper towel. He turns and says, “At Apple, not only are we trained to be extremely thorough but we are also trained to be extremely efficient.”

The third programmer finished and walks straight for the door, shouting over his shoulder, “At Bob’s Software, we don’t piss on our hands.”

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