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iPontificateHot Apple on Apple Action

by - September 20th, 2004

The topic that everyone seems to be talking about this week is the legal proceedings between Apple Corps and Apple Computer. I suppose I might as well throw in my two cents. Let me make this clear, however: I have no idea what is going to happen between these two companies. That is what makes me different than every other so-called pundit on the topic. At least I will admit what I am saying is pure, unadulterated speculation.

Some of the predictions I have read on the Mac web are so outlandish that I want to go to the homes of the people who wrote them and kick them right in the crotch. No subtlety, no "revenge is a dish best served cold" for me. No way. I'll just go to their house, ring the bell, confirm their identity, take three steps back, get a good start and swing away. As they are sailing backward, they might hear me say, "I read that article you wrote! I want my three minutes back!"

Paul McCartney will not be joining Apple's board of directors. Period. Apple Corps will not be taking ownership of a portion of Apple. Period. I should take an anger management class. Period.

There is a good chance that Apple Computer will have to pay Apple Corps a handsome sum, even though I think that is ridiculous. No reasonable man is going to confuse Apple Corps, the Beatles' record label and experimental business from the drug-laced sixties, with Apple Computer, the creator of the personal computer and pioneer of the new frontier of legal music downloads.

But the letter of the law has a way of biting one in the ass sometimes. If Apple Computer has agreed to stay out of the music biz to avoid conflict with Apple Corps, then the ridiculous may happen.

Let me say one thing about the Beatles. I consider them to be the single most influential rock group of all time. The Beatles were musical geniuses.

However, their business acumen was another thing. The Beatles created Apple Corps as their own label, and the label for the musical talents they hoped to discover. (Remember Badfinger? Don't worry, most people don't.) They opened boutiques, and dabbled in various artistic endeavors, most of which were embarrassing failures. Apple Corps, as managed by The Beatles, was a debacle that bled money, created conflict within the group, and took the Beatles' focus away from the music that had driven them for the better part of a decade.

Yoko Ono did not break up The Beatles, for the record. Apple Corps did.

Now Apple Corps is in the business of releasing Beatles compilations, and studio tapes of rough cuts of our favorite songs so we can hear what "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" sounded like before they got it right.

If I was in that boat, I would sue the pants off of anyone that I thought I could make a buck off of too.

But The Beatles were arguably the greatest pop culture development of the twentieth century. I feel that way, and apparently so does Steve Jobs. So much so, that he named his fledgling company Apple Computer as a tribute to the greatest band of all time. Oops.

We all know Steve Jobs is a business wiz. He has a tendency to be able to make lemonade out of lemons. So, if I were Steve Jobs and it became apparent that I was going to have to pay out a lot of bucks, I would at least try to get something for it.

First, I would offer, as a service to Apple Corps, to produce an ad campaign that would explain the differences between the two companies. To further educate the public about the differences between the two Apples, I would offer to double the proposed settlement if Apple Corps would make its library exclusively available on the iTunes Music Store.

A TV spot could go something like this: (I couldn't decide who would be a good actor for the voiceover, but I kept hearing Patrick Stewart.)

(fade in to a collage of Beatles pics crossfading; use Ken Burns effect)

voiceover, with stirring music:

In the dissent and conflict of the turbulent sixties, four young men spoke with one voice that rose above the din. Their music, their magnetic personalities, and their irreverent wit left an impression on the world that lasts to this day. The Beatles would become the most influential band of all time. At the peak of their incredible popularity, they created the most influential record label of all time: Apple Corps. Almost forty years later, Apple Corps is still releasing number one records by The Beatles.

(fade to black)

(fade in to a collage of early Jobs and Woz pics crossfading; use Ken Burns effect)

A decade later, one of the most important technology companies of the information age was founded in a garage in California. It introduced the world to the personal computer. In a tribute to their heroes, the young business partners named their tiny startup after the Beatles' record label. On that fateful day, Apple Computer was born.

(fade to black)

Today, destiny brings the two Apples together.

(as the two logos appear together on screen, a Beatles song begins to play. Maybe "Come Together", maybe "Two of Us")

Apple Corps, the most influential record company of all time, is making its entire library available for download exclusively on the most influential music store of all time: Apple's iTunes Music Store.

See what the fuss is about.

(fade to black; end)

Anyhoo, that's how I would do it.

Think they would fall for it?

is an Idiot. He is the co-founder of IWS Interactive, a New York (and now Houston) based development company for Macintosh. Now he spends his time writing about, developing for, and getting clients to buy Macs. Oh, yeah, and he recently had a kid. So his days are filled with taking care of little Jack, then playing with his Mac. He wouldn't have it any other way.

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