You know, Apple has been under a fair amount of scrutiny lately, what with three lost/stolen iPhone prototypes, the ensuing legal action and the refusal to open iPad and iPhone OS to Flash developers. Now I’m no Jobs worshipper; I’ve agreed with a lot of things he’s done and rooted for his prolific genius, but I’ve also raised a skeptical eyebrow at his ox-like stubbornness. The thing is (and I can only speculate), once you’ve built a company, been forcibly removed from leadership, started other extremely successful companies while watching your baby be run into the ground by a CEO who apparently knows nothing about the technology industry, and been asked to return again only to pull the brand out of the ashes and turn it into the industry-leading innovator of portable consumer devices, you’re probably somewhat inclined to tighten your grip. So I may not agree with the way he practically refused to budge from the captain’s chair even through illness when a competing CEO more graciously and subtly handed his company over to a crazy, sweaty successor, but I get it. That’s how the little guy grew up and started setting the pace for everyone else. But Jobs has always taken extra steps toward understanding and shaping the consumer experience. Which brings me to this week’s news.
I’m not usually a big fan of tech geeks sharing their opinions on blogs (oh the irony), but I read a Gawker article this morning that intrigued me, more for the nature of the content and Steve Jobs’ personal response than for what author Ryan Tate had to say. Actually, Tate kind of came off a little whiny and sophomoric. But, that’s what the freedom of the internet affords us. A public forum for our opinions, take or leave them. Anyway, due to some abrasive language on Tate’s part I’m not going to post the whole exchange or link to it, but here’s the idea: Tate took issue with Apple’s self-proclaimed “revolution” that the iPad has already become. So, angry about Apple’s non-compliance with Adobe and Flash and the apparently non-revolutionary implications of that decision, he did what any reasonable figure in the technoblog world would do. He emailed Steve Jobs. And Steve Jobs emailed back. And then there was more emailing with increasingly more agitated tone. Tate began, “If Dylan was 20 today, how would he feel about your company? Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with ‘revolution?’ Revolutions are about freedom.” Yep. And the corporations sit there in their… in their corporation buildings, and… and, and see, they’re all corporation-y. And they make money.
Here’s the deal- I’m an Apple Certified Technician, but it’s not like I’m on the payroll or getting kickbacks for supporting them. And they don’t need me to defend them by any means. But seriously, Steve Jobs has turned that company into one of the more socially and environmentally responsible large companies in the world right now. But it’s still a company. And companies make money, or they cease to be companies. After much heated discourse and accusations of Apple making themselves moral policeman, Jobs responded with a fair amount of poise and sincerity. “It’s not about freedom, its about Apple trying to do the right thing for their users,” he said. “Users, developers and publishers can do whatever they like- they don’t have to buy or develop or publish on iPads if they don’t want to. This seems like its your issue, not theirs.” Well said, Mr. CEO. It’s nice to hear someone who is actually in a relevant position have such a firm grasp on the reality of the issue. Would it be nice if I could use Flash and Adobe on my iPhone? Yes. Do I completely understand why Apple is choosing not to allow development in those formats? Also yes. And ultimately it’s his decision and he’s created enough good things that I’m not going to complain. But we can also choose not to lap it up.
Whew, that felt a little long winded. Thanks for sticking with me. Feel free to check out the full Gawker post and weigh in if you want. And if you, like the author, are so angered by your iPad’s inability to use Flash that you smash it on the ground, we have a revolution of an iPad repair service to make things right again. Peaces.