I'm glad Jason Calacanis has started posting his e-mail newsletter to the web. I subscribed to the newsletter but often found they'd sit in my inbox unread. But his web postings always get read by me (I don't know why that is exactly). Today he posted on his decision to stop using Apple products and move back over to the PC. That decision is largely based on the sentiment expressed in this one sentence...
Steve Jobs is on the cusp of devolving from the visionary radical we all love to a sad, old hypocrite and control freak–a sellout of epic proportions.*
He then goes on to list his grievances with Apple. But the thing is...nothing's really changed with Apple. Steve Jobs has always been a control freak. It's inherent in his philosophy of seeing Apple as "artists" more than as "technologists."
Here's a helpful action you can take to understand Apple better. Go to your local art gallery and find the next time they'll be having an exhibit featuring a single painter. Go to that exhibit and find that painter. Take him over to one of his paintings and focus on his face. Then say "I love this painting but it would be much better if you put a little red around the edges and changed that color in the middle to blue."
The expression on that painter's face will tell you why Apple will never willfully comply with Mr. Calacanis' requests in a way my words never could.
Like an artist, Apple has a singular vision that they won't let outsiders change.
The situation with the Google Voice app is the perfect example. Most people are ignoring the evidence and assuming Apple denied the Google Voice App because AT&T didn't want the competition in the phone space. But I'm almost sure that wasn't the case (AT&T denies the claim). More likely Apple didn't want Google grafting an inferior voice mail experience onto their phone. So just like the painter who would never change a color in his painting Apple refused to let the app onto the iPhone.
Which leads to the big problem.
Apple's products are great because Apple has that singular vision. Like an artist Apple's vision is sacrosanct to them. If you force them to change that vision in a way they find unacceptable the whole vision will fall apart. It's the missing tile syndrome. A missing tile in your bathroom has almost no negative effect on you. But if you want a perfect bathroom you'll fixate on that tile. It will be all you see when you walk into the bathroom and eventually it will make the room itself look ugly to you because you fixated on it.
Force Apple to start doing things they can't accept and I suspect you'll find the quality of their products starts to drop significantly.
There are pragmatic companies out there. Companies that do all kinds of market research and try everything they can to obey their customers. If that's what you want you need only walk over to the PC side of the aisle. But if you want Apple you have to buy into their vision and suck it up. To change them would be to deprive the world of what Apple is in the first place and I think most people wouldn't want that.
One Last Unrelated Note...
I didn't reprint the whole article so I didn't feel the need to put this at the top. But I had something to say about it so I'm putting it here. At the beginning of the linked to article Mr. Calacanis writes...
Note: You’re welcome to republish this piece provided you include the following note at the top: “Reprinted with permission from Jason Calacanis (www.calacanis.com), CEO of Mahalo.com and co-founder of the TechCrunch50.com conference taking place on September 14-15th in San Francisco.” With three links to calacanis.com, mahalo.com and techcrunch50.com if you would be so kind. Looking forward to an open discussion of these issues.
I've disagreed with things that Jason Calacanis has said in the past and will surely do so again. but I'll always think the world of him for stuff like this. I can't tell you what I'd give for a world of people who were brave enough to just say what they want and ask for it. Not worrying if people called them a self-promoter or whatever else. The fact that Mr. Calacanis is willing to openly do that which most people are afraid to makes him infinitely admirable in my book.