Like most of us I was saddened by Steve Jobs death. I wrote about his accomplishments. Then I read Gawker’s portrayal of Jobs and remembered my upset/concerns with those same things. If you only want to remember the innovator Jobs click elsewhere. There is more to this complex man and the company he built.
Jobs created a tightly controlled vertical infrastructure for Apple products. Once you buy an iPhone or iPad you are stuck buying everything else you need from Apple!
If I come up with a great program for your iPhone or iPad I cannot sell it directly to you. I cannot sell it at all without selling it through (and giving a cut of the profits to) Apple. I can’t even write a program Apple would consider for its iTunes Store without writing it using Apple’s tools and a Mac! That is an artificial barrier.
From Gawker: In the name of protecting children from the evils of erotica — “freedom from porn” — and adults from one another, Jobs has banned from being installed on his devices gay art, gay travel guides, political cartoons, sexy pictures, Congressional candidate pamphlets, political caricature, Vogue fashion spreads, systems invented by the opposition, and other things considered morally suspect.
Imagine you bought a Ford and were only permitted to fill it with Ford gasoline. Same thing.
Some have wondered whether Apple has become the Big Brother/1984 company they railed against in their famous Super Bowl ad? It’s a fair question. After all, today it is Apple that’s all about slavish conformity and control.
Apple is also a company that’s moved American jobs offshore. As far as I know all their products are now manufactured overseas. As Mike Daisey wrote in the New York Times:
Apple’s rise to power in our time directly paralleled the transformation of global manufacturing. As recently as 10 years ago Apple’s computers were assembled in the United States, but today they are built in southern China under appalling labor conditions. Apple, like the vast majority of the electronics industry, skirts labor laws by subcontracting all its manufacturing to companies like Foxconn, a firm made infamous for suicides at its plants, a worker dying after working a 34-hour shift, widespread beatings, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to meet high quotas set by tech companies like Apple.
There’s no doubt much of what Jobs did was good. He was not a saint.