Since Steve Jobs died certain tech journalists haven't stopped asking what will become of Apple. Events like the iPhone 5 release predictably bring the questions to a robotic whine of rote, dim soothsaying. The fabled few years of ‘pipeline’ Jobs gave unto them shall sustain them short-term, sure, but what happens after that? How will they keep innovating, disrupting, innorupting?
They won’t. And they don’t need to.
Apple’s innovative, ‘disruptive’ genius may well have died with Steve Jobs. It was a great loss, personally more than anything. But Apple doesn’t live off innovation. Innovation isn’t a business model. (Everyone doing Internet startups please take note.) Innovation is a design practice, a way of making products with new technology, which isn’t necessarily the same as making money with it.
Apple makes money on digital hardware, only made desirable by software and services. Given that our society has just lived through the emergence of the entire sphere of digital human production, they needed to innovate to create products, because they were many times making the first product of a kind that was any good. That was Steve's job. He could track, and sometimes lead, the emergence of said sphere of human digital production.
I use that cumbersome phrase for lack of a better option. Because digital media isn’t an industry. It’s not of the industrial era. It is the next era.
That’s obvious to many, and only important to say here because of what it says about Apple. To break out my SAT analogies, they are to the Information Age… continued with four Letters »