The types of computers we have today are tools. They’re responders: you ask a computer to do something and it will do it. The next stage is going to be computers as “agents.” In other words, it will be as if there’s a little person inside that box who starts to anticipate what you want. Rather than help you, it will start to guide you through large amounts of information. It will almost be like you have a little friend inside that box.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs came up with a two-part solution. Part 1: There is no problem. Part 2: Even though there is no problem, we’re going to give everyone a free case, which should insulate the antenna and prevent the interference that we just told you isn’t actually occurring. But if you’re still not happy, you can give back the phone for a full refund. Jobs’s snotty tone made it clear that he was pretty fed up with all the whining about a problem that he says doesn’t exist.
This is classic Apple behavior. No matter what the whole world can see with its own eyes, just keep saying that it isn’t true, and maybe, eventually, everyone will believe you. By refusing to acknowledge the problem, Jobs just reinforced the image of Apple as a company that is in deep denial and unable to admit a mistake—a company that has for so long been able to bend reality to suit its needs that it now has lost touch with reality itself.
The truth is, Apple needs to get on Verizon, and fast, or it risks losing customers to Android. If Verizon gets the iPhone, I’d expect a huge exodus from AT&T. Which probably explains some of AT&T’s recent behavior. With the release of iPhone 4, AT&T made an unusual offer to current owners of iPhones, telling them that even if their contracts weren’t close to being over, they could still push up their expiration date and upgrade to the iPhone 4—as long as they signed a new two-year contract.
Many people jumped on that offer, and some even viewed it as a case of AT&T being generous. Um, not likely. More likely it’s that AT&T knows its exclusive lock on iPhone is coming to an end, and so it sought to lock in as many iPhone users before the deal with Verizon happens.
To those folks who waited in line for hours and hours to take advantage of AT&T’s “generous” offer, I can only offer my condolences and point out that, given AT&T’s past behavior, you should have known better.
Today’s Apple event marks an important tipping point – it marks the point where Android starts to surge past Apple the way Windows surged past Apple in personal computers back in the 1990s. Moreover, I also believe that Jobs knows this, and doesn’t care. I think he’d rather have a small share of the market where he can exert complete control and create beautiful products that look exactly the way he wants them to look. Thus we have the new iPhone 4, which will cost a little more but will have pretty icons, pretty ads, and a cool video chat feature that only works if the person you’re talking to has the same Apple phone that you do. If you want to buy into Apple’s world, and you can deal with AT&T as your carrier, you’ll probably be very happy.
The most telling thing to me was Google’s tone toward Apple at the event. Instead of pretending to still be an Apple ally, Google today basically threw down the gantlet and admitted that it’s engaged in total war with Apple.
And unlike other Apple rivals, like Adobe, Google execs weren’t huffing and puffing and wringing their hands about Apple’s bad behavior. No, instead, Google was mocking Apple. Making fun of it. Laughing at it.
The Android OS is already outselling iPhone OS in the United States. Now it’s blowing past Apple in terms of the technology it’s delivering.
Yes, Apple still has a larger installed base. I was a little shocked recently when an Apple spokesbot responded to the news of Android’s outselling iPhone OS by reciting the old chestnut about Apple’s having more phones out there.
I was shocked because it’s a familiar line, one that I’ve heard countless times in my 20-plus years covering technology. But I’ve only ever heard it from companies that are doomed, and in total denial about it.