Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Google is about to make Apple Pie

I remember Microsoft's bailout of Apple: Back in the early 1990s, I was working as a technical sales liason for a vertical integrator and part of my job was to keep up with the general trends in the industry. I spent more than a little time in meetings with clients who had one or two Apple users that needed to be integrated into their network. They never went well, and usually ended with a sulking graphics or marketing guy who didn't want to play with the rest of the gang walking out of the meeting. Over the years I found this scenario to be a pretty accurate synopsis of Apple's corporate attitude as well.  The reason they needed the bailout - from Jobs' archenemy Gates, no less - was that Apple was picking fights with Microsoft, IBM, Novell and SCO , and so were racking up huge legal bills while generally being ignored because no one paid much attention to Apple in the enterprise, it was irrelevant in business applications. Added to that was the first inkling that Jobs was not the boy wonder he claimed to be: after a slew of technological and marketing disasters based on nothing but buy-hype, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy. Microsoft did indeed bail them out, and regardless of the millions of fanboys screaming to drown out the facts, nothing will change that history. Why did Gates save Apple? Maybe he was hoping that Jobs would see that there was room for everyone at the table. Maybe he worried about the future (and sanity) of his one-time friend. One thing was clear: Apple wasn't interfering with business enterprise applications, so perhaps he thought "no harm, no foul". Jobs, on the other hand, revealed himself as a truly psychopathic villain in the ensuing years, not a techological genius but a very adept liar and thief. Now Apple has an army of cult-followers, who are reminiscent of Tea Party members - armed with the latest sound-bytes and false accolades that they're "the best and the smartest" - but in reality they are just having their frightened egos stroked while being stolen blind. That's not to say that having an army of mindless followers is a bad thing... wait, yes, that's exactly what I'm saying: Apple has shot itself in the foot so many times (usually on the heels of the rare instance that they actually got something right) that those of us who have been in IT for more than a couple of decades simply sit back and wait for the shit to it the fan. Much like the Chick-Fil-A debacle, all that will come of this will be the revelation of the true colors of those who blindly follow an ideologue- the rest of us will simply get our chicken sandwich elsewhere...

Here's my prediction for the outcome of this fight: Ever seen a huge kid get bullied one time too many just because they're the biggest kid? Most of you have seen what happens when the big kid finally snaps: in a fair fight, the Big Kid usually ends up demolishing the Little Napoleon and his posse of fans. Google is moving carefully to make sure this is a fair fight, and Apple will have to step off at long last. Jobs' legacy/Apple and their fan-boys - they are the little bully-shits who you see strutting around the school-yard - picking fights with the Big Guy (Google), whose first response is to try to suck it up and not fight back, let the little bully have their square of turf. Make no mistake, it is Google who has the upper hand in this fight- regardless of how one feels about the company, they do know their stuff when things get ugly - and, like the bully who foolishly picks a fight with an Aikido master, Apple is about to become a victim of its own momentum.

Let me break it down using the headlines of the past couple of weeks. Apple's latest "victory" against Samsung simply accomplished two things: First, it established that Apple knows very well that it can't compete in the world markets - its price point is too high and its foreign labor standards have been revealed as draconian- so it behaves much like the RIAA/MPAA and tries to sue every single entity it encounters. Second, the jury in the Samsung case wasted no time admitting that it was taken over the first day by the foreman, an unabashed Apple fanatic, who openly stated that he had no need to look at the facts or read the evidence; he behaved exactly the way an Apple fan-boy would be expected to behave if he were handed that level of responsibility. Samsung will appeal this decision, and may even join forces with Motorola/Google to crush Apple in future litigation; it's happened before, and it looks like it will happen again. Wanna argue about Apple's position as "the biggest company in the world"? I have more than a passing familiarity with capitalization and its sensitivity to public perception: When they have their asses handed to them their stock price will suffer, and so as far as those "top market capitalization" arguments are concerned: they are nothing more than stock-price hype, located and sourced in the United States with heavy payoffs to China and a few judicial trade committees in Europe. Face it, most of the phone users on the planet don't have iPhones or iPads, they have much more versatile (and less expensive) devices that use Google's products. No amount of sneering or multi-syllabic insults can counter the fact that Apple has built its fortune and reputation on an elitist strategy - one that has been very successful in their monolithic and wholly-owned market. The problem with that market is that it's reached its saturation level, and in reality has to feed on its own limited demographic. I seriously doubt that there will ever be an "affordable" Apple device, it's not in their marketing plans, and as an elitist toy for DINKs and their ilk it has no need to accommodate the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the rest of the world will support Google/Android and tell the fanboys to have fun with their ridiculously overpriced toys. Or not, as Google just might force Apple to remove their products from the world's shelves - just as Apple has tried to do to Samsung, Google, Microsoft and Motorola just to name a few of those Big Kids...

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