Fri 21 Mar 2003
Apple Gored by the Business Press
Category : Commentary/gored.txt
This morning's edition of STREATS reported Apple's appointment of Al Gore to its Board of Directors, in a story taking up most of one page. While leading off with the spin that Apple wanted to place - that Al Gore is an avid Mac user who does his own Final Cut Pro editing - it quickly became an almost perfect counter-spin - that Gore had in fact "switched" away from Apple ("because the PC had more software") and it's not known when he had, if ever, switched back.
The PC has more software, even Al Gore thought so. That's the defining thought.
It's really nothing to get excited about because Apple routinely gets gored by the business press (see the Apple Death Knell Counter). By this time next year, Mac users will have gotten twenty years of productive work out of the Mac. That's why it's loved like an old dog.
What's really interesting, though, is - who puts these spin on the stories and why? Even companies that are struggling through dire straits, like HP and Sun, come up smelling like roses. I don't think there really is a conspiracy, at least not consciously. What I think may be happening is something akin to what Clayton M. Christensen described in "The Innovator's Dilemma".
"There is a certain type of technological innvoation which mainstream customers initially reject." Not just reject. They'll throw all their forces at it to maintain the staus quo; they and every one of the incumbents who are benefiting from the status quo.
Eventually, some of these technological innovations break through like a tornado (See "Inside the Tornado" by Geoffrey A. Moore). "New technologies can cause great firms to fail", as Christensen observed. That's why they won't go down without a fight. While Apple may, or may not, be among the ones to profit from their demise, interesting changes appear to be afoot.
Have you ever wondered why the number of Apple-related sites on the Internet is entirely out of proportion to its market share? When you're trying to start something new - a new business, a new trend, or a new brand - the thing to do is to look out for a potentially disruptive change (often caused by the rise to affordability of a new technology that allows things to be done that could never have been done before). Then, old paradigms are shaken and, in the resulting chaos, you break through to take your place.
There are a lot of people looking for that edge. For some time already, a huge amount of interest has gathered around a certain way of doing technology that is epitomised by the Apple that is Steve Jobs'. There is a thought among the digerati that the way to understand information techology is to study the wake left behind by Apple. Changes at the scale of a tornado don't happen quite so often. There's profit to be had.