The enigma of Apple

Apple is a hell of a success story.

A company brought back from the brink of oblivion by the sheer will power and vision of one man – Steve Jobs. Of course the most obvious irony here is this is the same man who co-founded Apple only to be ousted from the company.

It’s been interesting to watch the phenomenal growth of Apple as it brings products like the iPhone and iPad to market and the almost predictable reaction. With each new Apple product release you be assured of seeing line-ups circling city blocks just waiting for the opening of the Apple store door on launch day. With each Apple conference opening keynote speech people wait breathlessly for His Jobness to stride onto the stage and begin telling them about the next magical device headed their way.

What makes this exceptionally interesting to watch is the people who attend these conferences, line up for hours for each new iPhone or iPad release. For the most part they are what are termed as early adopters and especially in areas like Silicon Valley and San Francisco very tech and Web 2.0 startup oriented.

These are the people who power the movements like OpenID and work for ardent supporters of the Open Source movement. Companies like Google, Facebook or Twitter that do everything they can to support transparency and openness on the web. Look around any Starbucks or other wifi-enabled cafe and the number of Mac laptops make the cafes look like a sea of glowing apples.

The loyal and faithful owners of Apple products wear their purchases like some sort of badge of honor. At the same time though these people are the first to go on the attack against any company that they perceive to be trying to control information or be less than transparent. Things like DRM and DCMA are the rallying cry to fall in behind the EFF and march on corporate headquarters of whoever the perceive to have committed some wrong.

And yet these are the same people who blindly allow themselves to become part of the whole Apple marketing of exclusivity. It doesn’t matter that the whole Apple ecosphere from the iPad to the Mac is becoming more and more closed. Nowhere is there more of a restrictive marketplace that the iTunes App Store where puritanical decisions about what gets listed or not is the norm.

Apple has made it very clear that it is their way or nothing. They have absolutely no interest in social media and the conversation. On top of this is new information (slash rumors) that Apple’s iron fist control is going to be reaching new level but time will tell when it comes to that.

However what is important is that there isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t hear a growing list of problems that is it was any other company other than Apple all hell would break loose. From horrendous call quality that neither Apple or AT&T seem to feel is important through to problems with the hardware Apple gets away with stuff that no other company could even dream of.

It is amazing that a whole demographic of people who would among the first to raise hell with any other company that behaved the same way as Apple, and AT&T, do are also the same demographic that because it is Apple are willing to accept the company’s behavior.

Seriously, would you accept any other company telling you that you aren’t holding your phone correctly as being the reason for the phone not doing the job it is supposed to be doing?

Can you imagine the outrage, and calls to the DoJ, if Microsoft said that, or how about Nokia or RIM?

And yet this is the kind of treatment and attitude that Apple has towards its customers and no-one seems to see anything wrong with it.

top image courtesy of ReadWriteWeb

middle image courtesy of VentureBeat

bottom image courtesy of CenterNetworks