18 June 2007

iDon'tPhone

I seem to be one of the few people on this planet unaffected by the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field; indeed, I find the Fake Steve Jobs more, er, authentic. Desptie this, I have to confess I much enjoyed this Jobs profile by John Heilemann.

But in all its shrewd and witty analysis, it seems to miss the key thing about the iPhone: that it is not just expensive, but obscenely expensive in a world where many people earn less than $500 per year. In other words, the iPhone - rather like Jobs - is supremely narcissistic.

Perhaps that why Apple's products stick in my craw: with their self-assigned exclusivity and implicit sense of superiority, they are the antithesis of free software, which is inclusive and fundamentally egalitarian. The fact that MacOS is built on free software only adds insult to injury.

10 comments:

Roberto JC said...

I really don't agree in some form with your assessment of the situations that are presented. First of all, it is only in recent time that open source has become more of a "mainstream" thing. Before, it was reserved to a select group of people who, of course, were progressive thinkers of software but had a very deep pool of technical knowledge. Then there's the Mac OS. It's very foundation is Darwin, a Unix variant. Could it be possible to think that someone, lets say, like a huge corporation takes open source at it's base, promotes it like there is no tomorrow (at first at least), and contributes with the community? It is but the very purpose of open source, even if it is taken as the foundation of proprietary software. As long as they contribute back and keep it open (x86 Darwin closing), fine by me. Keep up the great posts.

glyn moody said...

The problem is that Apple has always been a very reluctant participant in the open source world. So I don't see it as a knight in shining armour that will help propel free software.

Certainly, it's entitled to use the software, as everyone else is, but I think it's sad they're so far from their initial vision of a computer for everyone: remember that the Apple ][ practically kick-started the personal computer revolution and made computers cheap enough that they could be used and even owned by students. Given that they're getting the OS practically for free, couldn't they come out with an ultra-cheap model for students, at least?

Chris said...

" ... obscenely expensive in a world where many people earn less than $500 per year. In other words, the iPhone - rather like Jobs - is supremely narcissistic."


-- Right on. Here was my thinking on the same lines last week:

http://www.unthinkingly.com/2007/06/15/genocide-vs-gadgets/

the whole reality distortion field thing gets old.

glyn moody said...

Thanks for the link to your - much better than mine....

Roberto JC said...

I believe the Mac Mini was a great try, but it was something brought to fruition because of the economic tendencies of the PC market. I'm totally with you on that cheap model. Maybe a stripped down Mac OS, an open source version (Darwin with some sort of GUI that is reasonable)? Very interesting case study actually. Again, keep up the great work.

Zaine Ridling said...

Got to agree with Glyn here. Apple feeds our modern obsession with novelty, i.e., "the next new thing," whatever its cost. After loading the spending time with the last two versions of Apple's OS, I feel like I'm the only guy on the planet that didn't drop to my knees and start praying to Steve Jobs. And I've seen some of the smartest people I know succumb to Apple over the past three years.

Apple's user approach is secrecy combined with a ongoing series of lawsuits. Not something to revere or use. But then, that's just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Where is your post about Rolex making an expensive watch while Timex makes a cheap one? Wouldn't you agree that EVERYONE needs to know what time it is? Shouldn't the time of day be available for all people? A Rolex is a several thousand dollar time piece, while anyone can spend less than 10 bucks at any drug store and walk away with the same thing.

Or perhaps you have a post about Mercedes Benz or BMW charging extremely high prices for their cars... While others such as Kia perhaps charge less. Don't the majority of American people need transportation?

How dare these companies charge such high prices while others in the same market charge less. Oh, I am outraged! I think you need to chill... Apple is a company. They make products. No one is forcing you or anyone to buy their products. If you don't want one, don't buy one.

glyn moody said...

Well, last time I looked Rolex and Mercedes Benz and BMW weren't digital technology companies, and this is a blog about digital stuff and the hardware that runs it.

The problem isn't so much that Apple has dared to make such a phone: it's the uncritical adulation of that object - the cult - that I find worrying. I'm just suggesting we need to keep things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

Well, to continue with the analogy, I've never seen so much fashion and excitement about cars, be that the new BMW or Benz...

We have entered the "digital era", and Apple is far from being the only actor on the scene that pulls out attention. As another analogy, check the madness about the new game consoles, ain't that as expensive (in fact, even more) and it has also a whole lot of people...

Cult is out there... it just goes with fashion, Apple didn't invent anything

glyn moody said...

You're right, Apple isn't the only example of this, but it's certainly one of the most extreme. Moreover, it's not just the iPhone: practically everything that Steve Jobs does is greeted with a similar ovation.