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Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's the cool app that matters, stupid...!

God probably wouldn't mind if He looked like Steve Jobs.

I just can’t stop wondering at the way Apple’s ( and with it Steve Jobs’ too ) fortunes swing. It hit the roof with Mac in the 80’s and then it slid underground for quite a while when Microsoft took centre stage. As Microsoft was looking invincible, Apple upped the ante with its iPod – a mega hit. And while it stayed hit, now at California Electronic Show (CES), Steve Jobs eclipsed Bill Gates by pulling yet another rabbit – the iPhone. Going by the immediate upward propulsion in Apple’s stock price, the rave reviews are not entirely stage managed.

None could’ve ever given the college dropout, whose biological parents gave him up for adoption, such a chance. Jobs has presided over four major game-changing product launches: the Apple II, the Macintosh, the iPod, and the iPhone; five if you count the release of Pixar's Toy Story, which I'm inclined to. He's like Willy Wonka and Harry Potter rolled up into one.

Jobs’s zealousness about product development— and enforcing his personal vision—remains as relentless as ever. He keeps Apple’s management structure unusually flat for a 20,000-person company, so he can see what’s happening at ground level. There is just one committee in the whole of Apple, to establish prices. I can’t think of a comparable company that does no—zero—market research with its customers. Ironically, Jobs's personal style could not be more at odds with the brand he has created. If the motto for Apple's consumers is “think different,” the motto for Apple employees is “think like Steve."

Apple’s arrogance can inspire resentment, which is one reason for some of the glee over Jobs's stock options woes: taking pleasure in seeing a special person knocked down a peg is a great American pastime.

Apple’s iPhone breaks two basic axioms of consumer technology. One, when you take an application and put it on a phone, that application must be reduced to a crippled and annoying version of itself. Two, when you take two devices --such as an iPod and a phone -- and squish them into one, both devices must necessarily become lamer versions of themselves. The iPhone is a phone, an iPod, and a mini-Internet computer all at once, and contrary to Newton -- who knew a thing or two about apples -- they all occupy the same space at the same time, but without taking a hit in performance. In a way iPhone is the wrong name for it. It's a handheld computing platform that just happens to contain a phone.

The only bitter after-taste can come in the form of an adverse outcome of a Cisco lawsuit against the trademark iPhone ( which it only recently applied to a Linksys VoIP phone set ). Anyone unglued about the name of this product is seriously logic impaired. It doesn't even matter in the slightest.

But then who cares what this is called ? Apple could call it the Apple Phone. It could call it "French Canadian Genitalia" or even "the Hebrew Profanity" and still sell it…

It’s the cool app that matters, stupid.

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