Daring Fireball chastises and riffs on SF Chronicle's Sunday story on "Stubborn Apple at Risk of Making Same Mistake Twice":
In a way, Apple’s survival is remarkable, author Kahney said, like a dinosaur living beyond the Ice Age. All the early PC-makers like Amiga, Commodore and Acorn crumbled, but idiosyncratic Apple hung on.
Daring Fireball's reponse: "Is it not perhaps the case that Apple “hung on” not despite its idiosyncrasies, but because of them?"
My guess is Apple doesn't look to newspaper columns for advice on bucking trends. The subtitle for Time Magazine's October 24, 2005 cover story reads, "Conventional wisdom says its strategy is wrong, yet it keeps turning out great products. TIME looks inside the world's most innovative company."
In a January 2004 Fast Company article chides Apple for its relentless emphasis on innovation and underscores that Apple's execution and revenues fall short. It warns of the folly of following in Apple's footsteps: "If your cool new thing doesn't generate enough money to cover costs and make a profit, it isn't innovation. It's art."
It is about art. Sunday Times UK writer recently says, "I couldn’t have written this article about Dell, BMW, BP, Microsoft, Sony or IBM. No company I can think of is quite as consistently interesting as Apple, and I can certainly think of none that might qualify as a corporate work of art."
"The [Apple] store is done in iPod shades of white. "We chose hand-selected Tuscan stone for the floors--a stone that's somewhere between sandstone and limestone," Johnson says. "It's the same stuff Florence was built on." - FC
Apple is all about "overtly challeng[ing] convention." Lest we forget the Renaissance didn't flourish through contentional thinkers and artists either we can slide across its stone floors to jog our history brain cells.
Apple Insider reports that maybe it's Fast Company that got it wrong: "For fiscal 2005, the Company generated revenue of $13.93 billion and a net profit of $1.335 billion, reflecting annual growth of 68 percent and 384 percent, respectively, and representing the highest annual revenue and net profit in the Company's history."
What most people miss in all of this is that the suggestion Apple needs to sell to the corporate market to succeed is flawed, because Apple's carefully cultivated brand image will never appeal to the bean-counters of the world. From a brand point of view, Apple sells to the "Think Different" market irrespective of whether the particular customer works in the corporate sector, in design, in film production, or in education. Apple appeals to an attitude choice and not a market segment. Market segmentation is a conservative marketing tool that fails to recognise the strength of brands working at a deeper level. - "The Branding of Apple: Apple's Intangible Asset"
"Reacting to an overwhelming number of messages each day, people filter out the chatter and focus on what resonates with them. On an emotional level, what appeals to a 47-year-old mother of two from Boise might be the same thing that appeals to a 21-year-old college student in New York. This revelation from consumer psychographic research is changing marketing and creative development as we know it. What has been traditionally a conversation about age, race, gender, location and income has been transformed into a dialog about lifestyle, mindset, behavior and feeling." - "Trend: Psychographics Once More with Feeling", Spring 2006, Create Magazine
Mindset - Attitude - Feeling - We filter out chatter and focus on what resonates. (In other words, you don't flip-flop from Revolutionary to Establishment and expect your core follow suit.)
Something is happening and it affects us all. A global revolution is changing business, and business is changing the world...
Here's What We Set Out to Do: Identify the values of the revolution and the people who are building companies that embody them: a commitment to merge economic growth with social justice, democratic participation with tough-minded execution, explosive technological innovation with old-fashioned individual commitment, from Handbook of the Business Revolution: Manifesto, 1995.
Why don't you get Fast Company anymore? I asked Enrique, a first-issue subscriber friend more than a year ago. He shrugs, "It doesn't speak to me anymore."
The San Francisco Chronicle reporter continues: “The reality doesn’t fit with the image. Jobs is the only cool guy there.” I beg to differ; and it's not about 'cool' because you can copy-cat cool. I live in the epicenter of Geekdom and yet Apple employees I know don't entirely fit the geek mold.
Ah well, it's all so banally familiar. Those Squares never get bohemians ("They were committed to a life of freedom, work, and pleasure, and eschewed the corruption and rotten values of conventional society"), even since the days of Cafe Momus, do they?
"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the trouble makers. The round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them, because they change things, they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do." - Apple Computers, Think Different campaign
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." - Jack Kerouac
p.s. In the 2005 book What the Dormouse Said, New York Times reporter John Markoff quotes Jobs describing his LSD experience as "one of the two or three most important things he has done in his life." (Wikipedia)
Update: SF Chron reporter Dan Fost responds.
images: I was at Caffè Macs yesterday (ate lunch at Apple's cafeteria) and couldn't help thinking the new iPod posters look inspired by the psychedelic poster art of the sixties. Someone else noticed they seemed inspired by Eninem ads. You can still purchase this collector's Bob Dylan psychedelic poster "Dylan, Blowin' In the Mind (20" X 30")" (yep, Mind as in tripping or enlightenment, not Wind as in lyrics).