Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs Has Died

I was never a big fan of Jobs, mostly because I was never a big fan of his expensive products.  Perhaps if I were more of a graphic artist I would appreciate them, and the price tag more.  Don't get me wrong, I loved using them when someone else was buying them, like my employer or school.  When it came down to outfitting my home and office, I always bought Toshiba.  It is all about the price/utility tradeoff.  I do use an iPhone and complaints about it could fill another post.

Part of my attitude was influenced by Steve Wozniak, who never spoke ill of Jobs, I just did not like how he described the way Jobs behaved.  I am a big fan of Woz and have met him in person, for a couple of hours.  It was more of a valued opinion sort of thing.  Woz can say anything and I tend to believe it.

Perhaps it was my lack of knowledge about how he ran Apple.  I never studied it, never went out of my way anyway.  I appreciate him more now that I know he really ran Apple computer.  From what I thought I knew in the past, I had the impression that Jobs kept wrecking the company and everybody else around him shored it up.  Not true, not even close.  However, when the press begins heaping praise on Jobs for inventions and engineering, because that was Woz, not Jobs.

I see that there are already comparison wars erupting, comparing Jobs to Edison.  Jobs was no Edison, he was no Wozniak either.  He was a fantastic marketer and knew good ways to package products.

Rush Limbaugh was always touting Apple products, reportedly without any compensation, just because he liked their stuff.  Perhaps if I were not as frugal as I am on certain things, I would be in the same Apple camp as Rush.  His show tomorrow should be interesting.

What does this have to do with How Many Borders Would You Like With That Socialism?  Nothing really.  Not much, really.  I recall in the 1980s(?) Jobs did a big computer "giveaway" to any schools that wanted to buy Apple products at cost.  As I recall, it was an effort to keep the company open during an economic slump.  This deserves more research and could be relevant to my current project.  It was like a reverse of rent-seeking, with Apple marketing and selling to government without seeking a government enforced monopoly.

On the surface, it is similar to the story of tobacco companies giving cigarettes to the US government for Soldiers in WWI.  I am still researching that one, but the story goes on that the returning Soldiers, of all walks of life, retained the habit and introduced cigarette smoking to sectors of society that had shunned the habit in the past.

The Apple giveaway, from memory, placed Apple computers as the introductory platform for school children of all ages for decades.  In college, it was my preferred platform and where I learned to use MS Word and Excel when MS Windows was not yet ready for prime time.  As this group grew older, a significant portion of them continued to purchase and use Apple products.  IIRC, the recent boom in Apple sales did not start until they began producing non-computer products, like the iPod and iPhone.

One of the critical mistakes they made in the early days of Apple was their insistence on making the Apple Graphic User Interface operating system incompatible with other platforms.  Unix, then Microsoft owned the government and business markets.  Apple acted like their hardware platform was superior and it would become obvious to everybody "any day now."  That event never happened and Microsoft expanded their rule over the non-academic computing market.

Eventually Apple did make their computing platforms compatible with Microsoft, but it was too little, too late.  Even today, non-Apple users cite Apple incompatibility with their favorite programs, which has been false for over a decade.

I need to do more research into the Apple federal lobbying efforts over the years.  Apparently, they never lobbied to get their platforms into the federal government.  If they did, it was a colossal waste of money, however I have never heard a hint of that.  Microsoft had problems because they began, and won, the business and government desktop war on the coattails of IBM.  They retain that position today, after being bullied by the federal court system into playing the crony capitalism game and positioning lobbyists to shower money on government officials in DC.

In retrospect, Steve Jobs is more of a great marketer to the masses, rather than a technological innovator, who knew what people wanted before they did, a little more like George Gilder.

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