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ATPM 15.03
March 2009


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Mac About Town

by Mike Chamberlain,

Life in a Post-Apple World?

One of the technological loves of my life is the 50″ Pioneer plasma that sits in our TV room. It was not good news recently to hear that Pioneer was leaving the TV business. Though my plasma is relatively new, one of these days I will want to replace it with the best picture I can find (within the approval limit of the family “finance committee” naturally—have to put that in as she reads this occasionally). Now, however, in light of their departure from the market, that replacement will not be another Pioneer.

The Pioneer news came as I was also thinking about the news last month that Steve Jobs was taking a leave of absence and, more specifically, my wrestling with a comment made by John Dvorak on TWiT that Jobs’ departure spelled the beginning of the end for Apple as we know it. Dvorak’s comment, as I remember, was that Steve’s departure would result in a decline in the products offered and that within five years Apple would be gone.

Dvorak is an acquired taste to be sure, but the point he raises is not totally off base. It is fair to ask, how much of what Apple has done and become in the past few years is solely the result of the fierce determination and focus of Steve Jobs? It is not unreasonable to wonder if Apple can maintain its culture of excellent innovation and laser-like focus without him. If you have any doubts regarding how people feel about that, consider past announcements on Steve’s health and note the resulting movement in the value of Apple stock price.

I have no intention of joining the tasteless gaggle speculating about Steve’s health and whether he will be able to return to work. I hope we all wish him the very best—not because we’re worried about Apple share prices or products, but because he is a fellow human being who has also contributed to our lives in some delightful ways. (Care to list your favorite Apple products here?) But it is an undeniable fact of life that no product or company is immortal. None of the things that we imagine immunize companies is any guarantee that tomorrow will not see their demise. Quality? I submit Pioneer plasmas. Longevity? I submit Montgomery Ward. Size? I offer into evidence General Motors. There is no guarantee.

All that is to say that to take Apple’s continued health for granted and dismiss Dvorak’s reaction as nonsense doesn’t do justice to the concern of the marketplace that Apple is Steve Jobs and that his departure would be the end or at least the beginning of the end of Apple as we know it. Which leads me to think about what a not-healthy Apple would look like post Steve…

Would it be a company that started making bargain basement versions of its products to expand the market? Would it be a company that decided to re-do the cloning concept and concentrate on the OS? Would it be a company that was more attentive to its customers’ desires than to the desires that its customers don’t yet know they have? Would it be a company that lost a radical focus on user experience and decided to go with the flow? (Two mouse buttons, anyone?)

There are many, many ways it seems to me, for Apple to go off the rails. There are many reviewers waiting for the day that they can begin a review by saying, “If Steve were still in charge…” as they explain the failure of a new Apple product. There is no guarantee, and yet…

There is something about Apple. There is something about this particular Mac that I am typing on. There is something about the community of Macintosh users and Apple devotees that suggests to me that it is not just about one personality. It is not just about one product. It is not just about one community. It is about those things and more. There really is a delight in using technology that fits into life rather than demanding that life fit it! I can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up one day and hear that Apple is getting out of the computer business or that Apple was abandoning what appears to be an expansion into the entertainment space in our homes.

So, John C., I’m not buying your assertion. I wish Steve the very best, but with or without Steve at the helm, those of us who have come use to computers that are designed for us rather than designed for the guys from the IT department will not go quietly into a Mac-less night—or a post-Apple world.

Stay well all (especially you, Steve),

—Mike Chamberlain

P.S. Feel free to leave a comment sharing the one thing that your Mac or other Apple product does that you cannot imagine living without.

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Reader Comments (1)

Avigayil · August 20, 2009 - 02:01 EST #1
Seriously my FAVORITE thing about my mac is... NO BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH! Woooohooo!!! It was the blue screen of death that ended my PC-ing days and converted me to a mac user. Over five years later and I am happy as a very happy plum tree. From my macbook pro, to my current macbook... from my first ipod.. to my ipod touch.. to my new ipod nano that will arrive this Friday.. (and the apple/nike sports kit that just arrived) I am a happy camper. Happy I say.. HAPPY! My computer loves me.. it doesn't take 5 minutes to boot up, it doesn't have useless IE that crashes every other important download... and it doesn't give me blue screens of death. I haven't had a virus.. a worm.. a trojan nor had the hard drive corrupt and I have not had to re-install the operating software. My software did not take 2 hours to install.

I love my mac because my mac is nice to me.


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