Sunday, January 31, 2010

The definition of "Magic"

From the words of Jonathan Ive on the promotional Apple video: "You know, it's true... when something exceeds your ability to understand how it works, it sort of becomes magical... ". We should all know by now which company out there has been actually creating this kind of magic in our lifetime. It's called Apple Inc. The Steve Jobs company! Likes 'Jobs' the 'dropout'. This is a group of people who, for more than 30 years, have changed our lives for ever, operating under one single objective: Create products at the crossroads of Technology and Liberal Arts. From the perspective of user interface and experience these products are created to adapt to ourselves and to our intuitive responses, and not the other way around. It was really quite interesting what Jobs said during the Wednesday event, this last week. "(paraphrasing) The space between smartphones and laptops needs to be occupied by a new device that must be much better in many things, if it had to make sense to anyone who'd pay money for it. Many said that Netbooks ought to be in that space. But, the issue is, Netbooks ain't better at anything!" Tell 'em Steve!

What was the world reaction to the Wednesday event? Not as good as it should be, by far, folks. Look around. Read the comments! The most stupid and incompetent among us (especially those with difficulty to even pronounce Apple's four letter product name correctly) came out with remarks "No way I'll buy that ever! No camera and no phone!" or "product name sadly reminiscent of female tough days of the month", or "an iPhone on steroids", or that in Irish "iPad" sounds like "iPod" (just like "fuckin'" sounds like "fockin'") and more incredible horseshit like this. Makes you wonder... why is it that morons always tend to be the most vocal in times like these? Do they get paid to act like dickheads?! Or, are they just born with the 'stupid' gene in their nucleic macromolecules?

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that Apple is the ultimate business, marketing, innovating, hardware and software company that has ever come to being. You could run an entire MBA programme based on lessons from them, by just observing the way they run things in that establishment! A little while ago I thought Google was another one along these lines... Until they launched their own smartphone. I then knew we'd be getting more and more of the same, from this point onwards. Another Microsoft on the making! Sad truth...

In the beginning of his keynote Jobs described his strategy in few single words. Every word weighted a ton of the deepest meaning, mind you... Come to think of it, the essence of what he said is much like the story we keep teaching students at MBAs. The story of the old bull and the young bull. Ever heard that one? No? Here you go:

There were, once upon a time, an old bull (father) and a young bull (son) minding their own business on top of the hill. It was midsummer and hot. Suddenly, their attention gets drawn downhill, where they spot a herd of juicy young cows enjoying the sun and the green grass while their cowbells fill the air with the music of a familiar Swiss-cowbell sound. The young bull, eyes wide open, all his bull hormones in overdrive, screams - Wow dad, let's rush downhill and shag them all! The wise ol' bull yawns for a few secs, farts loud and, full of himself, he's like: Take it easy, son! We'll just walk down slowly and take them one by one.

That's the way Steve does it. Reinvent markets, throw well designed products at them next, and take them all one by one. Enjoying the act quietly, just like the old bull. Come to think of it, that's the way by which Gates has initially grown Microsoft too. Only, Jobs has always created new knowledge and user experience by re-inventing common objects, whereas Gates copied everybody else. However, these days, the real problem for Microsoft is that Ballmer is too stupid to even do the copycat properly... he just watches his heavyweight giant bull company rushing downhill looking for cows, when the latter have gone home long, very long ago!

The Apple stats that Jobs showed us are nothing short of stunning: 12 Billion downloads of 'thingies' from their online stores (music, videos, apps). 75 million iPhones and iPods Touch sold todate (this is the market that doesn't need any additional training to operate the iPad). 250 million iPods sold todate. 15.6 billion dollars Apple revenues in a quarter (approx 50B annually). Largest mobile devices vendor worldwide by revenue (laptops, phones, music players). Behind Apple you'll find struggling Sony, Samsung and even Nokia, while the kids at Cupertino continue enjoying hefty profit margins and generate cash to lick your fingers...Who can do better?

Makes you sad thinking about what that other arrogant moron, Michael Dell, had to say about Apple, back then, around the turn of the century, when asked what his opinion was on future Apple prospects: The best thing to do with Apple, said he, is liquidate the company and give whatever's left back to the shareholders. Well said Mickey (Mouse)! It's exactly what Jobs is thinking about you right now but is civil enough not to mention it... in public!

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