Say Goodnight, Steve

in General Discussion edited January 2014
This was among the commentary on lowendmac today. Personally, I couldn't agree more. Steve's philosophy with Apple has peaked, and it is time to move on.

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For those who don't want to click on the above link:

<strong> [quote]

Maybe it's time for Apple iCEO Steve Jobs to hang it up. Or, in the spirit of Apple branding, to iRetire. While Apple still makes the most insanely great computer on the planet, it has, for the last five years or so, been spinning its wheels in a rut that it has dug for itself. The decision-making process down in Cupertino seems to be concerning itself with splitting hairs over the question: "Do we want to be a cult or a boutique?"

Nowhere is this clearer than in the design of the new iMac. If your vision of futuristic design has been informed by reruns of The Jetsons or Star Trek, then maybe the new iMac will seem impressive, but the design trivializes the product's potential as a so-called digital appliance or digital hub. It's ungainly, faux retro-space-age look totally detracts and distracts from what was the real news of Macworld San Francisco 2002. iPhoto.

iPhoto will drive the sale of more Macs than a flat-screened iMac designed to look like Princess Leia's make-up mirror for the simple reason that it is targeted to a need of the consumer market. It simplifies the process of downloading digital photos to the computer and eases the process of sorting and printing the images. There is also an option to have a ten-page, linen-bound photo album professionally printed for US$30.

Last year, six million digital cameras were sold in the U.S. That's one-third of all camera sales. Obviously, digital is the future of photography. iPhoto positions Apple to be the logical response of the consumer digital photography market.

Unless, of course, consumers are confused by Apple's marketing and end up believing that iPhoto is only available on something that pretends to be Mrs. Jetson's TV set.

Have you seen the pricing for the new line of Macs? Maybe it's time for Apple to steal something from the PC world -- pricing that a consumer can understand. Or, as Nora Barnacle once told James Joyce, "Jim, write a book people can read."

Apple resurrected itself -- in the minds of consumers and the business world -- with the introduction of the original iMac. It was beautiful, simple, and priced to move. And move it did. Apple sold six million of those fruit-colored little buggers.

But success always seems to go to the wrong part of Steve Jobs' head. The Cube -- an upscale design offshoot of the iMac -- was a beautiful loser. No one had a clue as to why they would want one. It was an understandable misreading of the computer market. Design -- the market seemed to say in response to the iMac -- sells. But that isn't what the market was saying. The market was saying that simplicity sells.

What else can explain the number of subscribers to AOL?

The Cube's failure should have sent a coherent and unambiguous message to Apple: Their market has to be larger than the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It's the ergonomics, stupid. The great unwashed will not be geeks or even geek wannabes for another generation. They want to get online, listen to their tunes, process their digital photos, and get their email. Is this hard to grasp?

Macintosh has always sold itself on the simplicity of its operating system. Now that OSÂ*X will be the default OS on new Macs, that selling point isn't as true as it used to be. It's time to restructure the simplicity formula. Maybe what the Mac can do for the consumer is the message that needs to be stressed?

Somehow, Steve Jobs seems to feel that mere consumers are beneath his concept and conceit. In his exile years from Apple, while pushing the doomed NeXT system up an unending mountain, Jobs told an interviewer that if he were in charge of Apple he would "milk the Macintosh for all it was worth" and then move on to the next big thing. The milking of the Mac has been done with some excellent results. That next big thing -- based on Apple's recent offerings -- still eludes him.

This isn't good news for the long-term health of Apple. Does Apple even have a plan for a post-Jobs Apple? Maybe it's time to create one. Or maybe we should reconcile to the fact that Jobs needs to be an outsider and that Apple will never be more than a boutique company constantly reinventing the Macintosh.

That tells me that it's time for Steve Jobs to call it a day. His career as a marketer -- and let's face it, that's pretty much all he's brought to the table -- has been as brilliant as it has been self-destructive.

It's time for Apple to move past the image of cult of personality. Even Macworld as a forum for new product releases reeks of evangelical cult behavior. The only thing missing is the handling of the iSnakes.

It's time for Apple to grow up and focus its product line, its pricing schedule, and its message. That isn't going to happen while Steve Jobs is running Apple, and, at the risk of sounding heretical, I think it's time for Jobs to wise up and step down. <hr></blockquote></strong>

[ 09-30-2002: Message edited by: progmac ]</p>


  • Reply 1 of 34
    stevesteve Posts: 523member
    I don't believe in everything that is said here. The iMac is a flat-panel consumer system, and it's priced that way. I dare you to find a flat panel consumer machine in the same vein as the iMac for $1299. If people want the ultimate barebones system, that's what the eMac is for. It actually offers a flat CRT, instead of the camel-hump technology that the PC world is still using on its lowest-cost machines, and it's quiet.

    Mac OS X doesn't continue the legacy of Apple simplicity? I don't think so. With the super-simple digital hub applications, unified repositories like the address book, OS X is the easiest operating system to learn and use. Period. Moreso than Windows XP, moreso than OS 9. So what if it's based on UNIX? My DVD player has hundreds of little bits and pieces and doodads and whatzits, and I have absolutely no idea what they do. Should this stop me from using it? Should this stop it from being the simplest thing to use?

    The loser writing this that wants Apple to be more cult-like than boutique-like is probably just a teenager who recently discovered Apple isn't cool enough for him. Apple makes beautiful products: the iBook, TiBook, iMac, iPod, eMac, and even the operating system are gorgeous. Why shouldn't the platform develop a following if just for those reasons alone? (The fact is, of course, it's not: the Mac has attracted everything from UNIX geeks, for obvious reasons, to bio-engineers.)

    I still believe Steve is intregal to this platform. Without him, it's doubtful that the digital hub could've been fleshed out as well as it did. Even iSync, and the whole Mac-to-Mobile philosophy is great, and I'm sure that was generated from his mind.

    The only thing that this writer is pissed about is because Apple doesn't offer $499 Windows shitboxes, that people just want to use to check their email once a week or so. Why? Because that's not the vision Apple has. If someone can't even afford an eMac or iBook, what makes them think they can afford a digital camera, a cell phone, an MP3 player, .Mac, or anything else that enhances the digital lifestyle? Perhaps Apple is a cult in this sense, because they are the only ones that can see the future of how a computer should be used, and know how to profit from it--and, again, I can guarantee this all comes from master businessman Steve Jobs.
  • Reply 2 of 34
    kelibkelib Posts: 740member
    I agree with practically everything JR writes on this article as such. But it may be worth thinking of, that at the same time Apple has the simplest to use OS out there, the most beautiful hardware there is and this "exciting" Digital Hub thing, Apple's sales remain all but stagnant. To survive in the long run the company needs to sell more Macs!!! Will that happen under Steve Jobs? I'm not so sure. SJ has worked miracles for Apple, no doubt about that. But that doesn't mean he's the right long term guy for the job, someone who represents 'consistency' as well as 'continuity' and stability.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    zozo Posts: 3,115member
    the original iMac was such a shocker and such a turning point because it was so radical at the time.

    We have been, to say, spoiled, over the last 5 years with continously great stuff (except the flower power iMac, god that was horrendous) and now, even if flying monkeys with iPods coming out of their asses at the next MW, we wouldn't be all that impressed.

    Maybe he should take a break for a few years, let some novice take over, make mistakes, make everyone think Apple is doomed, and then have Steve come back and do his magic again.

    Its hard to pull out revolutionary stuff when you're contiously doing it.
  • Reply 4 of 34
    kelibkelib Posts: 740member
    [quote]Originally posted by ZO:


    Its hard to pull out revolutionary stuff when you're contiously doing it.</strong><hr></blockquote>

    So true. But do we really need revolutionary products now? Maybe it's time to emphasise on different aspects of this whole thing. After every revolution people need time to adjust and reassess things a little, some time to take it all in. Then in 2 - 3 -or 4 years time maybe people are ready to 'rethink' what computing is all about.
  • Reply 5 of 34
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    A the risk of sounding a tad redundant, it's the prices, period.

    A few good points in that article, and a few hasty conclusions, but not as far off the mark as one might think. Apple at times appears to succeed in spite of itself. This cannot continue forever, even on the best brands (like Apple).

    Digital photography will be bigger than digital video and so will the tools that go with it. iPhoto could be huge, but there will be PC equivalents. Digital photography is huge and getting bigger every day: it will, over the course of the next decade and change, displace the vast majority of film's business. No consumers will bother with it. Amateurs and pros will play with it for artistic reasons, but that's it.

    I can't fault the iMac or eMac's design, at least not in comparison to the original iMac. They are both superior in every detail to their common predecessor. Apple remains one of the few companies that can do cool kitsch, if it looks Jetsony, at least it looks good. Just look at your average computer/electronics offerings; they look bad, poor style, poor ergos, trendy, but ultimately (very quickly) dated. eMac should have come out almost 2 years ago, but that's another story.

    The story of price. Cube wasn't a design failure, it was a complete marketing fvck-up. Priced way too high, it was the headless, decently upgradeable, cheap mac we've always wanted, only it wasn't anywhere near 'cheap.' Too bad.

    There are things people want out of a computer that automatically displace all other notions to second tier considerations: Price and expanability/choice. Untill Apple offers a consumer model with easily upgradeable components and choice of 3rd party displays, consumers will continue to look at their models with suspicion. The sales numbers of the iMac are misleading. For the last 4 years it's been the ONLY semi-affordable mac option. Many of it's buyers decided on Mac first and then bought it because that's what they could afford. Many also bought it for the design/simplicity, but it would be foolish to think that a significant portion wouldn't have chosen an affordable tower/cube or other headless (and expanable option) if were ever available.

    The common argument against expansion/some-kind-of-box, i sthat peopel rarely use this expansion. Yep, that's true, but it remains a huge psychological hurdle that won't go away unless every manufacturer suddenly removes any trace of expansion. So long as the other guy has it, people will think, "Why don't you?" It's that simple. Other's say, if Apple made their consumer machines expandable, then people wouldn't buy machines as often. No-no. The same group of apologists has already argued that people very rarely upgrade or expand their machines. Which is it? Do they or don't they?

    In fact, expansion is more likely to move machines. If I know I can make a few key changes down the line, I'm more likely to spend money now, than wait just a little longer.

    Then there's price. It's just way too high. While they'll never make budget boxes (a good thing actually) they're too far out of step with pricing realities. Even a small change, tied to better options for expansion and future upgradability would make a very big difference in the way the line-up is percieved. Steve, remains unwilling, but a modicum of price competition and flexibility is in order.

    [ 09-30-2002: Message edited by: Matsu ]</p>
  • Reply 6 of 34
    Matsu, you're finally making some sense. :eek: <img src="graemlins/bugeye.gif" border="0" alt="[Skeptical]" />

    I agree totally. We should be in a "make things more expandable, make the specs wow 'em, and shave off the margins that are far larger than what they used to be" phase, rather than an "innovation" phase. In hardware at least. Apple wants to seem like an innovative company, so they really have to do it with the software, now. It kinda switches off between the two.

    All that aside, this article is so flammatory, angsty, and full of shit that it hurt to read.

    [ 09-30-2002: Message edited by: bradbower ]</p>
  • Reply 7 of 34
    Matsu wrote:

    "Many also bought it for the design/simplicity, but it would be foolish to think that a significant portion wouldn't have chosen an affordable tower/cube or other headless (and expanable option) if were ever available. "

    People keep saying that Apple needs a midrange machine with PCI slots and choice of external monitor. They say that these two factors are really important in the buying process and it would seem obvious that they are. But there are two things that need explanation.

    First of all, the Cube WAS lowered from $1799 to $1599 to $1299. It was a fantastic buy at $1299 and you could add any monitor you wanted to it. I thought that it would be incredibly popular. Your other choices at the time were either an iMac with an anemic 15" screen or a PowerMac for $1599. There is a really, really big difference between $1599 and $1299. But people did not buy the Cube. It may not have offered both PCI slots and choice of display, but it did offer one.

    Now look at the eMac. It is not really selling incredibly briskly either. It offers a 17 inch display, which is large enough for most people and much better than a tiny 15 inch screen. It was $300 cheaper than the LCD iMac when the iMac was still $1399. Yet there wasn't an incredible pent up demand for it as you would think there would be.

    It is really odd but maybe Apple really does know something that we don't. Maybe their lineup is just right. Maybe if they offer a midtower for $999 it really wouldn't sell that much more and might only cannabalize other Mac sales.

    My guess would be that choice of display size is much more important than PCI slots most people don't use. Both would be nice but the first is much more important than the second. The Cube at $1299 and the eMac at $1099 both are much better than being stuck with a 15 inch iMac, but the sales gains aren't there. How does everyone explain this?
  • Reply 8 of 34
    spartspart Posts: 2,060member
    [quote]Originally posted by progmac:

    Nowhere is this clearer than in the design of the new iMac. If your vision of futuristic design has been informed by reruns of The Jetsons or Star Trek, then maybe the new iMac will seem impressive, but the design trivializes the product's potential as a so-called digital appliance or digital hub. It's ungainly, faux retro-space-age look totally detracts and distracts from what was the real news of Macworld San Francisco 2002. iPhoto.[/quore]

    This man has never used an iMac.

    They are a joy to use at school, no matter how much I slouch, twist, move around, I can move the screen to face me perfectly. Friend wants to see what I'm working on in Photoshop without having to get up out of his chair? Flick of the screen and its pointing right at him.

    As for the looks better in person.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    kelibkelib Posts: 740member

    The Cube at $1299 and the eMac at $1099 both are much better than being stuck with a 15 inch iMac, but the sales gains aren't there. How does everyone explain this?<hr></blockquote>

    The fact the Cube went off to such a bad start played I big role there. It was labeled 'failure' long before then and had no hope basically.

    As to why eMac isn't selling as much as one would think it deserves there could be few factors.

    1) Marketing. At least in my part of the world I haven't seen one single ad on it. 2) It's pretty close to the iMac in price and standing beside it in the stores it doesn't stand a chance. While it looks ok the iMac just stands out. 3) It's no more upgradible than the iMac

    [ 09-30-2002: Message edited by: kelib ]</p>
  • Reply 10 of 34
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    Buy the time the Cube's price was lowered, it was in its death throes. People were waiting for one more little drop, one more little bump, they'd already bought something else, etc etc... If it had started out at a decent price, they'd still be selling them now.

    I think there comes a point where, if you're serious about selling more machines, you have to offer more options. And often, the best design direction to take is no further away than your competition. See what they're selling a lot of, and make "some" concessions in that general direction, but adapt the best elements of your own philosophy to improve upon the competition.

    Apart from price, the cube was the nearly perfect "comprimise" between Mac-land and PC-land.

    What were the PC guys selling a lot of? Cheap Towers!!! They still are. What do people buy macs for? Snob appeal, ease of use, efficiency. What do people in PC land typically upgrade? Do they plug in a host of specialized PCI cards? Nope. Give 'em sound and all the I/O they could hope for, and there's no reason to include PCI. But the PC weenies do buy RAM. Got that? Check, 1.5GB worth (max). And they do swap out their GPU and CPU. Got that? Check, AGP and daughtercards! Woo-hoo, so far so good. Next they make it small and mac-like (quiet and sexy). Maybe a little too small 'cause they can't fit the PSU, ermm... in retrospect, maybe no one would have complained if the Cube were an inch bigger all the way around, but it had an integrated PSU. Yet that's besides the point. The comprimises were all well judged...

    Except the price. The affordable PC towers we're talking about typically come in the 799-999 range (sans monitor). That's the mid range. Cube? Damn it, Jobs! It costs as much as a powermac. Then what's the damn point? It's not something for a new type of mac user anymore. People who wnat to spend an arm and a leg will get themselves a powermac and all the expansion that goes with it. People who want a hermetically sealed unit that just works will buy the iMac. What's left for the cube? You've priced it out of contention as far as 'converts' goes, so, yeah, all that's left now is cannibalization between product lines.

    Some cannibalization isn't even a bad thing if a new product opens new markets. You have to risk a little to gain a little. <img src="graemlins/oyvey.gif" border="0" alt="[No]" />

    You look at an eMac. Make a cube with roughly the same internals, slightly bigger than the original. Use a daughtercard CPU and an AGP slot and you'd surely be able to build a Cube redux at a much lower cost than the eMac, 'cause you don't have to build around a display or factor in its cost. Lower shipping and warehousing costs too. It's the perfect $999 US "Switchers" machine, and despite the price it'd carry an as good or better profit margin.

    [ 09-30-2002: Message edited by: Matsu ]</p>
  • Reply 11 of 34
    ast3r3xast3r3x Posts: 5,012member
    First I have to say that Apple probably knows what they are doing. We are saying stuff with only limited knowledge and financial information. I think that Apple sets things to where it thinks they can sell, and as long as they make a profit I'm happy. I belive matsu said how apple wants to make people think their HW is innovative...well it is i'll tell you what, just in the past year or two, their specs havn't been...Moto is giving it to apple from behind. IBM, or Moto picks up the slack.

    As for the Cube...bring it back apple, i'll buy one!
  • Reply 12 of 34
    right now, the market is WAY WAY too satuarted with computers.

    If Apple did what they are doing now 5-6 years ago...they would be number 1. period. case closed.

    but they are hauling ass, and producing all these kick ass products, while practically every household has at least 1 computer(most have more) and those computers are not only windows, but they are cheap.

    Apple's Switch campaign is a very well executed campaign. well presented, well advertised, well updated(for the most part)

    yet its not doing 1/2 of what apple wants...cause most people that see it don't think "hey that guys right, my computer really isn't that great, maybe I should get a mac".


    what if:

    Apple's switch ads ARE working at 150% potential but not directly.

    joe guy sees the commercial and is convinced apple is superior, but he just got his dell box and like hell will he shell out XXXX amounts of money for a new computer...but he promises himself that his next comptuer will be a mac.

    if this happens to a large enough base of people, then in a few years when these people feel that they should get that new computer...Apple's sales will flourish.

    ...hmmm....maybe, maybe not.

    I definatly think Steve-o should stay on, he has helped apple sooooo much, in not only generating loads of new ideas and pep, but also giving the company a solid image and all that godo stuff.

    at anyrate...I'm goign to get a powermac soon enough

    then I will be set for years and years and years to come no matter what happens to apple.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    kecksykecksy Posts: 1,002member
    I know I'm not Steve's biggest fan. I think I called him a "greedy egocentric elitist" in another thread? But the fact is, he's the person who saved Apple, and because of his leadership Apple is a much cooler company now than it was 5 years ago. Yes, Steve Jobs and Apple are making mistakes. No company is perfect, and Apple is doing a lot that is right. I think the whole digital hub concept is brilliant. I don't know if Steve came up with this himself, or whether he stole it from someone. It doesn?t matter. What does matter is that Steve has delivered on his promise to make the Mac the best platform for creating digital media and utilizing digital devices. Steve probably didn't do much to help Apple's employees write iTunes and iPhoto, but he certainly has made us enthusiastic about these products. Steve is a good salesman. I think Apple would be wise to keep him around, even if he's not the visionary everyone thinks he is. Bill Gates and Microsoft have made mistakes too you know. Anyone ever heard of .NET?
  • Reply 14 of 34
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Steve could use a healthy dose of criticism from all the wannabe-CEOs, but put simply, he's the soul of the company for better or worse. I don't think Apple could last long without him. That's not really a good thing because whenever he goes, Apple will falter son after. I can't imagine Apple outliving Steve Jobs, not by much anyway. The company has a very human lifespan.
  • Reply 15 of 34
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Sense? Matsu? :confused:

    quack quack quacksalve<a href=""; target="_blank">r</a>.

    [ 10-01-2002: Message edited by: Eugene ]</p>
  • Reply 16 of 34
    vikingviking Posts: 127member
    That article is a load of crap! nuff said.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    If I wanted to make sense I wouldn't spend my time on the internet.

    It occurs to me I never actually said whether I think he should stay or go. He has to stay, his name saved Apple and even a CEO who might do a better job would not be as well recieved by either investors or the public.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    stunnedstunned Posts: 1,096member
    Come on Steve, lower the prices of those Macs, increase Apple's marke share and these articles won't come out anymore.

    Win -Win situation
  • Reply 19 of 34
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    Count me in on the "That Article Sucks" Camp.

    Makes me Wonder if these people even remember the Spindler, Sculley and Amelio days where Apple CEO's were about as much fun to watch as paint dry. Ohhh things seem soooo easy now that Apple is not on it's death bed. It's convenient to harbor hopes that some "magical" CEO will come in an right the company and end it's ills. Bollocks!

    Pixar has grown and Apple has Grown. Jobs is not perfect but he's the Mac equivalent of Bill Gates and that's what Apple needs.
  • Reply 20 of 34
    nonsuchnonsuch Posts: 293member
    I'm not up on my Apple history as I should be, but wasn't the whole "slash margins and compete on price" caper tried at some point in the days before Jobs' return? I seem to remember Apple has a very good reason for not trying to lowball its way into higher marketshare.

    Some of you guys have such hubris it amazes me. I personally don't feel sufficiently well-informed to diagnose all of Apple's ills and prescribe exactly what they need to do to fix them. I personally have the nagging feeling that Apple actually knows a lot more about their markets than we do, and that the people sounding off around here would be lucky to do half as well. I must be crazy, eh?
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