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Just in case you can’t get enough of Steve Jobs, why not preorder his new biography by esteemed writer Walter Isaacson? Unlike previous bios, this one was actually done with Jobs’ permission, and he’s cooperated over numerous interviews to give the most in-depth look into his life yet. It promises to be a great read, and will be released on November 21st. If you want a hard copy anytime soon, I suggest ordering ahead of time, but the Kindle and iBookstore versions obviously can’t sell out. Still, you get a deal by preordering.
I’ll never forget where I was when I read that Steve Jobs retired. That’s not because I equate the leadership transition of Apple with events like 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination. No, it’s because the location was just too perfect.
On a whim, I took a long bus ride to my local Apple Store to get some technical questions answered about a Time Capsule I’m purchasing. There wasn’t really any reason to go, except that the current lack of internet in my new apartment was a serious drag. What better place to catch up on my RSS than an Apple Store? So there I was, wandering around the shiny gadgets arranged neatly on each table, toying with this and that while I waited for a Specialist to open up. I picked up a white iPhone 4 and was admiring the retina display, when I noticed how much nicer the Stocks icon looked on the high-res screen. I never use Stocks, but I poked the icon for some reason. Of course, Apple was at the top of the list, and I happened to accidentally swipe sideways to the news pane. I froze and stared. It was only a couple minutes after the press release had broke. Slowly I looked up and glanced at the employees, with “they don’t know” running through my head. The last thing I wanted to do was disrupt their very busy day, so I quietly left after dashing off a quick blog post and leaving a fullscreen portrait of Jobs on a corner MacBook Air. Hopefully some curious employee got the message after clearing the screen.
So it’s finally happened, like we all knew it would eventually. It’s a shock to be sure, but Apple has never looked stronger. This is not some portent of doom – Tim Cook will do a fine job, and has been working as CEO for a long time already. Jobs is still feeling well enough to run the board. Besides, Steve is now free to do whatever he wants. When Bill Gates resigned, he started his foundation and spends his time working to cure the world’s most insidious diseases. While I have nothing but the utmost respect for Gate’s new career, Jobs won’t change his passion in any way. No, Steve has always cared about one thing above all, and he’ll deeply involved with Apple’s product strategy for years to come. Even if he isn’t, the company is made up of hand-picked executives, with a succession plan he put together himself. If there was ever a CEO who understood how to protect his beloved company when he was gone, that person is Steve Jobs.
For all the jerk moves Jobs is famous for (nearly all in his younger days,) it’s impossible to ignore how much he’s changed our society. His bicycle for the mind turned out to be bigger than anyone imagined, and I have a feeling his latest hits will be just as influential.
The number of Google+ accounts has exploded faster than any other social network so far. But is that really important? There’s a big problem that hasn’t been cited nearly as often – the users just aren’t using Google+. In contrast, Facebook and Twitter consume our lives, with friends posting new information all the time. They hold value because actual content is being generated. Compared to that, Google+ is a graveyard.
I was only able to convince 5 actual friends of mine to join, and not one of them participates anymore. Even the friend who originally sent me an invite has fallen silent. Some have deleted their accounts, and most others sit with a half-completed profile. There’s no reason for me to continue looking at a stale website, even if Andy Ihnatko and Dave Caolo keep posting interesting things. There’s no value to me in using Google+, and it’s something that Google needs to solve if its fledgeling network is to take off.
As it stands, I’ll probably delete my account in the next week unless something drastic happens to turn this malaise around. I really like Google+’s design and premise, at least more than Facebook’s tired UI and increasingly noisy environment. But there’s just no point being social in an empty room.
A very interesting article in Fortune postulates that we’ve entered a new era for Apple. I think there’s a definite change in the air, corresponding to what I’d call “Apple 2.5.” The first iteration ran from the Apple ][ through 1997, to be replaced with Steve Jobs’ leadership and the one-two combo of the iMac and iPod. Now we’re moving into a new version, where Apple stands to be the most successful it’s ever been. Instead of making beautiful, functional, and expensive products, Apple’s started making beautiful, functional, and competitively priced products.
After years of being a small computer maker, Apple now has the economies of scale working for it, making its iconic products available to more people than ever before. Just look at the iPad and its tablet rivals. Not one rival has managed to match the price and specs of the iPad, yet it’s already on the second generation. Now the latest MacBook Air has been released, promising unheard-of portability and power for less money than any competing product. Intel’s ultrabook project is a start, but even then manufacturers can’t touch the Air’s price point.
The impressive thing about this transition is that Apple hasn’t wavered in its vision at all. The same experience that makes people love Macs so much hasn’t changed, and Apple hasn’t lowered its profit margins or quality control. The lower prices are all coming from an utter dominance in the supply chain. Tim Cook may not be as charismatic as Steve Jobs, but he’s a genius in his own right.