Instapundit compares President Obama to Apple, saying, in connection with recent rather belligerent rhetoric from Obama, and similarly belligerent conduct by Apple regarding the alleged stealing of their latest iPhone before they had themselves unveiled it, this:
Like Apple, Obama’s strength is mostly in the image department …
That may be right on the money about Obama. Don’t know for sure. Don’t live there. But I definitely think it’s wrong about Apple. For me, Apple’s stellar “image” is based on an underlying reality of product quality, not on how nicely Apple supposedly behaves, or did behave until this recent atrocity.
A lady friend of mine has the earlier version of the iPhone, which she adores. Talks about it like it’s her perfect boyfriend, and looks at it like its a new and really good baby she just had. When she first got it, she could hardly stop gazing at it, and kept not listening to anything I was saying, instead wanting to demonstrate how fabulously it worked and how great it was for tracking emails and recognising pop songs and taking snaps and the rest of it, like she was a fat old geek with no life. Shame about the battery life, she says. But of course they are fixing that in the new version.
And then there’s my beautiful Apple keyboard, which a few months ago I purchased and attached to my clunky old PC because every PC keyboard I have ever owned or seen or heard of is total shite, either about a mile across with a completely useless accountancy section adding even more mileage to its width or, if a sane size, doomed to instant disintegration and requiring baby fingers to use even half accurately and so flimsy that if you type like an adult with your adult fingers it slides across your desk like a big insect. Also, on all the PC keyboards I have ever owned a few of the damn letters soon became invisible, and I had to buy new stick-on letters from Rymans. Contemptible.
My new Apple keyboard is the total opposite of all such shiteness. It is the keyboard I am happily typing on right this minute, and it is well on the way to convincing me that my next entire computer should be Apple as well.
Quality like this is not “image”, of the sort based on merely incidental nice behaviour. I suppose you could argue that what happens on the front of an iPhone is “image”, in the sense of legible lettering, clever pointiness and so forth. But that’s image of the kind that is central to the quality of the product. And my keyboard is solid, beautiful reality, at its most solid and most beautiful. (Make of that what you will.) Meanwhile, I also think of Apple, not as serenely nice people, but more like neurotic and borderline psychotic artists. The kind of artists who regard the transcendent excellence of their creations as a excuse to be mad bastards. I pretty much agree with them. It comes down to my understanding of the character of Steve Jobs. Genius. Mad bastard. Hell to work for, apart from that little thing that you get to make supremely great stuff and everyone thinks you are great too, which you are. “Insanely great”, you might say. So, for me, Apple getting the government to smash down the door of some defenceless little tech-bloggers is no deviation for them. That’s regular Apple behaviour. That’s Jobs throwing a mad tantrum and stamping his never-grown-up feet, insisting that just as his products must be perfect, so must the launching of them be perfect, or not enough people will buy them quickly enough and the network effect won’t cut in soon enough, and can’t you pathetic fuckheads see that!!!! And if the new iPhone that Apple’s psycho lawyers are saying was stolen turns out to be as good as all the other Apple gizmos have been, then Apple will continue to rack up insanely great profit margins.
The day may come when Apple products start to be only average, but the incidental madness continues. This is what I foresee if Steve Jobs ever departs, because of death or some such catastrophe, or because they fire him, again, on account of wanting quiet lives, again. Then nemesis will follow, and the revenge of all the other nerds will be something to see. But that’s not the story now.
In a related way, and to fly off at a bit of a final tangent, if the current British Prime Minister, also a mad bastard, whom I do know quite a bit about because I live here in Britain, was imposing sensible government policies on everyone with his mad bastardry, then we here would idolise him, certainly enough of us would for him to stay in his present job. Those mobile phones (does that include iPhones I wonder?) would hurtle towards the heads of his underlings, and they’d moan to journalists, and the journos would say: “Ooh that Gordon, what a character! He blames everyone but himself whenever he does anything wrong, like he’s a mad kid or something! He’s a laugh a minute, isn’t he? Now, about that wondrously falling government deficit …” And they’d be right. But alas, the Gordon Brown product is not insanely great, just insanely insane, and he and all the other mad bastards who foisted him on us are all about to be hurled over an electoral cliff and good riddance.