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That Vision Thing: Never Again!

MWSF - That Vision Thing: Never Again!

by , 10:00 AM EST, January 11th, 2001

Caught you looking for the same thing. [But] it's a new thing.

--Public Enemy, "Don't believe the hype"

The moral of the story should be very clear, in light of Tuesday's sermon/pep rally/keynote address: we should stop doubting Apple, once and for all.

I never realized how much I needed to hear what, exactly, is Apple's vision until I heard it spelled out. There isn't really much Apple needs to do now to assure its future success and marketshare growth, except to execute the vision presented.

To recap: the PC will evolve into the "digital hub" of tomorrow's home. But, tomorrow is today if you own a newer Macintosh. I'm sure you'll agree, if you own or know someone who owns any of the following: MP3 players, DVD players, CD "burners," DV camcorders, handheld PDAs, and other appliances of the like. Everything I've seen and heard cogently confirms this.

In the last few days, I've had the pleasure to meet minds with a few of the like-minded individuals that we call Mac web writers. In one particular string of conversations, Mac Observer Editor Bryan Chaffin made an interesting observation -- Steve Jobs' act of outlining Apple's vision was directed more to Wall Street than to us Mac faithful. After all, they are the ones who've been moaning about the lack of a written written.

Honestly, many of us Mac users are just like kids. All we want is for Daddy Apple to keep cranking out cool stuff, and we'll remain happy. Honestly, how many of you can avoid getting aroused just by looking at the G4 Cube? Screw the anemic sales figures.

Apple, wisely, is creating products that appeal to the kid in you and appeasing the bottom-dollar-watching pundits. For you and me, luckily, Apple is creating and inspiring others to create technological aphrodisiacs, not hardware:

Husband: "Honey, do you mind if I bring my G4 Cube to bed tonight? You know how it turns you on to see me handling that optical mouse..."

Wife: "Okay, but only if you let me bring the SoundSticks..."

We're talking sex appeal, on the surface, but beneath the covers -- to extend the sex metaphor a little more -- we're talking vision, too.

Juxtapose this with what the rest of the PC industry is doing, or not doing. A wise man once said that history is like a drunk man, stumbling and slamming from one side of the hall way to the other, barely moving forward and making progress. The PC industry is like that, trying to figure out what to do next. "Let's slap color on our PCs, and people will buy them." "If we create a fish-shaped PC, that will make people buy more." Again, be honest: does, say, a Microsoft really have a vision for the future?Microsoft is concerned about perpetuating Microsoft; so is Apple, for that matter. However, the Mac- and the PC were created in the wake of diametrically opposing philosophies. Better yet, the Mac was created specifically to put flesh on a particular philosophy.

Again, let me borrow Bryan Chaffin's words, in paraphrase: Microsoft's goal is to make the user access everything through Microsoft, be it Windows, Windows Media Player, X Box, or the upcoming Explorer chair (a combination La-Z-Boy and Web TV -- I'm not making this up). Apple's goal is to give the average user access to creative- and empowering technologies that have been heretofore denied by the complexity of the PC and the ignorance of the programmer.

The hardest thing to do is to make something easy to use. Yet, Apple vows (to continue) to do just that.

Let me say it even further: Apple may be the only computer company with a philosophy, one to which the average guy can relate. I cite myself as an example

I never would have chosen to work in a field directly related to computers if not for the Mac. I fell in love with this easy-to-use interface. Over the years, I peeked under the surface and discovered extensions, control panels and such. That foundation helped me to get into the PC. If there were no Macintosh, I would have been terribly intimidated by the Windows PC.

I think that is Apple's advantage -- to make computing less intimidating. How many school teachers could be system administrators -- that's what many of them are, technically -- if they were starting off with a room full of PCs?

This sense of empowerment is Apple's legacy, and Tuesday's keynote articulated this same empowerment as the future of the company.

I don't think that the message will resonate deeply among the suits on The Street. They won't all "get it." But do revolutions really need pundit approval? The best things often are those that people don't get or deem a dead end, a fruitless endeavor.

In the recent past, I've noticed myself growing jaded about the Macintosh scene. Was it because I couldn't see where the company was headed? I think it was Robert Morgan's Apple Recon site that preached that Apple would be working towards a "Grand Convergence" agenda in which the Mac would be the center of a digital lifestyle. It really is a logical progression.

Technology is a part of our lives, no denying. The technology companies that will succeed will be those that have a plan to integrate their products into that technology. What better plan could Apple come up with? Again, it's logical.

Never again should we wonder if Apple is dying. Having vision will separate Apple from the "also ran's" of the industry. They make it look easy.

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