[If you like what you read here, be sure to subscribe.] Steve, I think we need an intervention. You're acting all crazy-like.
Brief history: Apple debuts their new touchscreen on the iPhone and iTouch and people are really happy. Some creative developers code their own applications to use on the devices ("third party apps"), but to use them, they have to "jailbreak" the iPhone/iTouch. Steve gets mad and Apple's next firmware update has the potential to brick your iPhone/iTouch. However, Apple promises that apps similar to the most popular third party apps will be unveiled in early 2008. Now, the decision is between jailbreaking the device to use all these cool (and free!) third party apps or comply with Apple and wait for the upgrade.
On Tuesday, Steve announced that the new apps were ready. Except there are only five apps. And it'll cost you $20. And new iTouch and iPhone buyers will have it already installed.
Here's the crux of my anger and the part that really chaps my ass: Apple is charging for functionality rather than products. This is not a media item that is of definite size, length, and value. Instead, this is an upgrade in regards to how the iTouch works.
So, what message does this send to Apple customers? Here are a few off the top of my head:
Screw early adopters - Anyone who buys an iTouch from this point on gets the upgrade installed. Early adopters, true advocates, and Apple cultists who bought the iTouch earlier need to chuck out another $20. Hmm, where does this sound familiar. I seem to remember a company selling a bunch of fancy phones and then knocking the price down $200 much to the chagrin of the folks who had already shelled out their hard-earned cash.
We know you'll buy it even if it sucks - The hubris of these types of business decisions is amazing. Despite anticipated customer push-back, they did it anyway. Because they can. It's almost as though they thought it was a privilege to use Apple products.
- We're willing to nickel and dime you - What a big "screw you" to the customer who plunked down almost $500 for an iTouch. Can you imagine if I bought a stereo and then had to pay a little extra to get the "Stop" button? It's part of the user experience!
So what's the lesson from all of this? That Steve must be trying to get more bad press in a couple months than Apple has gotten in years? That he fired all the marketing guys? That he's off his rocker (or drunk with power)?
The lessons are these:
- In terms of not allowing third party apps, we know that open systems (Google, Facebook recently) thrive and that closed systems eventually wither. Apple is among the closed-est. From Fast Company: "Jobs may have to accept that Apple's next wave of growth--or energy, as Einstein might have put it--depends on syncing up his products and platforms with those of his competitors." Facebook opened up their system to third party apps and business is booming. In order to do this, one has to accept that it is not possible for them to think up (and make) every apps possible, ever. This humility seems beyond Jobs.
- In terms of the $20, know that it's not the money. It's the principle.
I realize this issue is literally biblical, but come on. Apple has built a reputation as the cool, sleek, uber-designed, arty, rebel computer manufacturer (not difficult if Bill Gates is your competition). But they seem to be forgetting that these days. The cult they've built is not going to stand for this crap forever. For this snub, Steve, you can go iFuck yourself.
But this isn't a totally negative post, Steve. I can thank you for one thing: you made my decision about whether to jailbreak my iTouch really easy. For a couple of minute's work, I'll have a ton of apps all for free. And next time I'll remember this when I think about which mp3 player to buy. Thanks Steve!