Apple is a maker of great computers and smartphones. When taken in and of themselves, most of the iDevices are a master class in ergonomics and design. Apple has produced a constantly evolving line of great products that are fun to use and provide a user experience that is unique and exciting. Consumers love to love Apple products.
Apple is not Steve Jobs. Apple is a big company. It is profit-driven right down to the iPad’s USB adaptors (Wow! In 2010, really?). It’s cold and shrewd and monolithic. Apple wants to track you and sell you things through an ad network that will integrate with every part of your life. Apple is not a peace symbol or a bastion of justice or a catalyst for revolution (that’s marketing). Apple is built on consumerism and the free market. It has more cash reserves than God. Apple will not save the world or the planet or the environment. It doesn’t care about how you’re feeling or whether homeless people are living off its toxic garbage in third-world countries. Apple is as elitist as BMW and Rolls Royce. Aside from the devices it makes, Apple is not so different from the rest of the Fortune 500.
The fact that people forget that Apple is a company and not a shiny gadget that they love is why so many are outraged and disillusioned with Jobs’ response to the iPhone 4’s antenna woes.
Cruise the comments sections of some of the tech blogs, and you’ll find a continuous stream of bickering between those who have been labeled “fanboys” and Apple “haters.” The haters say the fanboys (aren’t there any women who like Apple products?) have their heads in the sand. The fanboys insist that even with the antenna problem, the iPhone 4 is still the best smartphone on the market. The Apple thing is becoming the “Apple thing” because two polarized sides are slowly emerging, which is actually solidifying Apple’s customer base, believe it or not.
As is the case with our political system, the problem here is in a concern over the labels we use (re: red states and blue states), as opposed to the real issue at hand. Today’s comment from Jobs was business as usual for Apple. The company is proceeding as it always has, with a kind of arrogance and self-assuredness that only an entity with billions of dollars in cash on hand is allowed. What’s amazing is that anyone would expect any less of Apple. When a single company’s profits reach into the billions, entitlement and arrogance are almost always the rule.
Is Jobs’ most recent response to his devoted customers frustrating? Absolutely! If Apple were a small town restaurant, would it be out of business right now? Probably. Do Apple’s devoted customers deserve more? I sure think so. Will they get a handwritten apology and an immediate fix for the problem? Probably not. Is it imperative that Apple fix the problem immediately? Nope. Will hoardes of people continue to wait in line for the phone and be happy with it for the next two years? I’d bet on it.
The iPhone 4 is selling like bottled water in the desert. People are standing in lines for hours and hours to get their hands on this thing. Verizon Wireless, Motorola, HTC, Sprint, T-Mobile, Samsung, LG, Nokia would all kill to be in Apple’s situation, antenna problem or not. Would these other companies respond differently to complaints? Maybe, maybe not. But this is Apple, the company that has somehow managed to slip the Shuffle and Apple TV past its devoted customer base. Apple is a big company that doesn’t apologize (i.e. Flash, walled garden, walled garden, walled garden) and it will continue its unapologetic practices so long as it’s profitable, which it looks like they will be for a very long time to come.
Whether you’re a hater, a fanboy or just someone who wants a cool phone and doesn’t mind that it needs a “bumper,” don’t expect Apple to be anything more or less than it has ever been. If you’re disgusted with Jobs’ most recent antics, then vote with your wallet and go grab a Droid from Verizon Wireless. If you’re alright with the phone as it stands, then by all means enjoy and maybe grumble a little about Jobs’ being an eccentric jerk. Whichever side of the fence you land on, know that at the end of the day, you’re just a consumer, Apple’s just a company, and you have the power to choose what you buy and what you don’t.