Tim Cook had one job to do and he botched it – and it’s going to change the way we view Apple products. Geeks know that Android devices offer superior technology, but that’s not why Apple fanboys buy Apple products. Steve Jobs got it. Tim Cook doesn’t.
Apple has always been a company that built closed-ecosystem products that they carefully guarded, protected, and controlled. Many years ago, in the days of pre-Mac personal computers, Apple sued any company that came close to cloning an Apple computer (ask Franklin computers). IBM on the other hand, turned their technology (DOS) loose and manufacturers ran with it birthing the PC era that now dominates our homes and businesses. Apple on the other hand, demanded total control of their product, from the manufacturing stage all the way through the retail end. Apple computers were cool, unique, sold at high prices, and in the long-term, failed to dominate the market. Absent innovative technological changes, the iPhone product will be no different.
Apple controls what software iPhone customers can install, what browser they can use, what music they purchase, what third-party devices they can connect it to and strangely, even dictate when you can change the part most likely to fail – the battery. They do this for several reasons and of course, profit is indeed a primary driver of their business process (the iPhone 5 costs just $207 to manufacture). But they also retain tight control on their products in order to sell more than just a case full of electronic components. They sell an experience.
When the iPhone 4S was introduced, it was another mediocre Apple iPhone update, much like the iPhone 5. But it contained a new technology, at least “new” to Apple, called Siri. Android had a similar function years earlier but to Apple customers, it was new and according to Jobs, unique. Steve Jobs touted Siri as a revolution and painted a picture of a sexy device that you could interface with and relate to. Despite technological problems with its implementation, news outlets touted it as the second coming, a technological advance that would change the world. They said it was the future. And Apple fanboys ate it up.
When Tim Cook introduced the iPhone 5 late last year, a very different “ho hum” sort of feeling spread through the technical media outlets. Tim Cook failed to sell the magic of the device and instead, attempted to tout its technical features which of course, have fallen behind its competitors. Jobs would have sold us on the odd-looking elongated shape, on the thinness and light weight, on the new great things we will be able to do with the new connector interface, and on some minor software addition that nobody has yet to pay any attention to. He would have sold us on the Apple iPhone experience and we would have turned our heads and ignored any technical deficiencies.
We can only hope that Tim Cook is redirecting Apple’s internal talent to the next big thing (surely he’s not that focused on the bottom line) or maybe (gasp) thinking about opening the closed, soon to decay, system. Apple fanboys could care less about missing features, “grip of death” follies, and lack of carrier choice. They don’t care about closed systems. They purchase iPhones because of the image that Steve Jobs sold them and they will continue to buy them for at least a while longer. But the iPhone 5 purchases are still based on the image that Jobs sold them. Tim Cook has yet to pull this off and he won’t have too many more chances to correct this flaw before Apple falls back to the wayside, just like it did in the battle for personal computer dominance.