I’m not a sports guy.
I love going to live games in big stadiums but following football, baseball and basketball on a day-to-day basis is not my bag. My sports are technology and design and Apple is my team. I love when they win.
Apple wins when they create awesome products I love to use, products better than any other company can make.
Apple wins when they show the world that while consumer electronics products are impossible without the brilliance of enginners, you need designers to make them so fun and intuitive to use, you don’t even a need a manual.
I won’t lie, though. Apple also wins when they kick Microsoft’s ass. It was a great, symbolic moment last year when it was announced that Apple was worth more than Microsoft in market capitalization. It also feels good to know how successful the iPhone has become, especially after Steve Ballmer laughed at it in 2007. Oh, Steve. You big, bald dummy. Hold on while I do my touchdown dance in your face.
Apple wins when they own a small fraction of the mobile market, but taking home two-thirds of the profits. It adds insult to injury when they take all this money in the face of all their competitors copying the smartphone paradigm they established with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Hey guys, you’re copying my team and you’re still losing (They still don’t understand Design is not skin deep).
Speaking of shamelessly copying, it seems Samsung never bothered to make their own playbook, they decided to just copy Apple’s.
But I have to be honest – I’m really tired of writing about Apple.
I want to write about other amazing competitors. It’s fun when your team wins, but it’s even better when they win against a worthy adversary. Would you rather watch your favorite football team score touchdown after touchdown, against a team with a horrible defense? Sure, the first few are fun, but it gets old. What’s great is competition. Real competition.
What’s great is when your team wins, but in the last 5 seconds of the game. Triple overtime. Sudden death. Winning against a rival who fights until the end and who you can look at and say, ‘We might have beat you, but you played awesome.’
In the last few years, there have been very few moments where it looked as though a company besides Apple was going to start making consumer electronic devices people would love to use.
The first one I got excited about was the Palm Pre and webOS. Jon Rubenstein left Apple as senior VP of the iPod devision in 2007 to join Palm. When he unveiled the Palm Pre running webOS in 2009, the Apple DNA was obvious, but webOS was fresh brought a unique perspective to mobile operating systems. ‘Yes,’ I said to myself. ‘Apple has some real competition.’
Then HP bought Palm in 2010 and things got bumpy. The Pre was a solid smartphone but when the time came for HP to create a tablet to compete with the iPad, it wasn’t all it could have been. I wanted to love the TouchPad, but it was clear HP blew it. Then HP’s CEO, Leo Apotheker, gets ousted by HP’s board of directors Now it’s not even clear if HP wants to play the mobile computing game anymore.
Then there was news RIM was launching a tablet called the Playbook. The preview videos made it look as though RIM had executed things well. Oh, but then they shipped it without an email client. Not to mention providing no good way to get content on to or off of the device.
Earlier this month, Amazon enveiled their new lineup of Kindles, including the top-of-the-line Kindle Fire. The Fire uses a custom build of Android, has a color, multi-touch screen and an integrated marketplace to buy applications and movies and books and music. And a web browser which caches frequently visited sites for faster loading. Yes! Now we’re talking!
Then I got my hands on the Fire and was let down. Like the HP Touchpad, so close, but so very, very far from winning.
Now, most recently, John Paczkowski over at AllThingsD reports that Apple, with help from Sharp, is cooking up some Apple TVs — actual televisions — not what Apple TV is in it’s current incarnation.
It’s the logical next step for Apple’s goal of a fully-integrated entertainment ecosystem. These plans are not surprising. The question really is, why wouldn’t Apple redesign the television experience?
This is exciting news. Imagine a television experience that doesn’t involve convoluted remote controls and overly complex on-screen menus.
What isn’t exciting is this piece from Paczkowski’s post (my emphasis):
But what form it will take remains a mystery — one that the entire TV industry is evidently eager to solve. “Based on our discussions, interestingly other TV manufacturers have begun a scrambling search to identify what iTV will be and do,” says Misek. “They hope to avoid the fate of other industries and manufacturers who were caught flat footed by Apple.”
What would be great is if these other TV manufacturers weren’t ‘scrambling’ to cobble together something half-assed, but had a clear vision for a fun and intuitive television experience. Something they personally would love to use in their own homes.
It brings to mind a great quote by Steve Jobs (in his biography by Walter Isaacson):
The older I get, the more I see how much motivations matter. The Zune was crappy because the people at Microsoft don’t really love music or art the way we do. We won because we personally loved music. We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you’re doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family, you’re not going to cheese out. If you don’t love something, your not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much.
History keeps repeating itself and it’s getting annoying. Apple introduces a new product, the industry reacts, they copy, but by the time they turn their enormous ships in the right direction, it’s too late.
Repeat ad infinitum.
It’s getting old.