Thursday, September 08, 2011

Apple after Steve Jobs

Many years ago when I came to the PC v Apple fork in the road, I chose the PC, probably because it was cheaper, used more widely in the business world, and trying to figure out DOS left me nostalgic for my days assigned to a code breaking unit in the Army. More recently, however, I've opted for two revolutionary Apple products, the iPod for my music and the iPad as my PC substitute. Both work very well, are elegantly designed, are a pleasure to use and, compared to the other similar products out there, worth the premium price you pay. Perhaps more revolutionary than the devices themselves, however, is how they employ the Apple iTunes store to make recurring sales to you, first of music and now of content previously printed on paper or recorded on tape. If you think about the disruption that the internet brought first to the music recording industry, then to the newspaper business, and now to book and magazine publishing, you realize that Apple solved the riddle of how to get paid for all that content when delivering it via the internet. Certainly the producers don't get paid as much as they did before, but they were on a trajectory to be put completely out of business so what they have no has to be better for them. All this technological, cultural, and societal change has been guided by Steve Jobs. Now that he's retired, we have to ask whether Apple's track record of innovation will continue or whether it will join the rest of the pack that looks backward more than it looks forward.

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