Apple and Republicanism - mirror image twins
Today I read comments on TechCrunch about the impending iPad 3 (or whatever it will be called).
Obviously, it was MG Siegler (he’s quit TechCrunch as chief Apple zealot but still publishes there despite getting all miffed about how TechCrunch has lost it post sale). And he responded to a comment from a fellow Apple fanboy about the upcoming iPad.
“What could the latest iPad have - I pole for pole dancers,” was the basics of the comment.
Siegler agreed - the iPad is so wonderful it can’t be improved.
My immediate thought was, if Steve Jobs was alive he would immediately ban such sordid content.
As you well know fellow reader, Jobs mocked Android for basically being a mobile porn den. Sad.
And that got me thinking about Apple and its ecosystem more generally.
Apple’s ecosystem is an oddity.
First it prides itself on its developer network - all those lovely little developers using one of the most open market, capitalist systems in the tech business. Everyone can have a shot at being app maker.
There are the millionaire, heck billionaire, apps stories. There are the dreams, the hopes of millions making millions.
But then there’s the actual eco-system.
And that has nothing to do with free market at all. It’s all command and control. And weirdly, it is as much moral police as it is broader ecosystem enforcer.
Fall foul of the rules - and the rules have very little to do with democracy - then you’re out. It’s App Store death penalty stuff.
And despite this command and control system all the focus is on the app maker … the little man and his/her success story.
There’s never any talk of the massive hierarchy. Just hushed whispers from actual developers.
iOS fragmentation talk, despite existing, is heresy.
There it is: Apple and it’s ecosystem has much in common with US Republicanism.
The irony, the humour in it is that so many fanboys would classify themselves as the absolute opposite (see this infographic of the democrat-voting hipster vegan fanboys).
It kind of goes to the broader story about Steve Jobs too.
Sure, he dated a hippy for a while and was all designer cool guy who shunned Western medicine.
At the same time he cancelled all Apple charities when he retook the helm at Apple, he thought might was right in a corporate sense, he seemingly had no issue with Apple using child labour to produce its products and created what is a basically a small business sweat shop to sell his App Store dream with an incredibly high tax (30 per cent of everything sold in the ecosystem) which no one seems to question despite mocking competitors (say Microsoft) for similar practices.
And just like so many Republicans, Apple has sold the dream on shiny emotion, on a story with deep and troubling gaps in the narrative thanks to rank and file flag-flying fanboys turned foot soldiers.
And like Republican America, Apple (much quicker than its political counterpart) is moving to a consolidation phase where innovations begins to slip away. Where legacy systems start to dominate movement forward. Where there great slowdown begins before the crumbling sets in.
Right now Apple is in its Reagan years - there are still wins in it - but the old man is lost.
Cue the iPad 3.