In 1984 Apple spent $900,000 on a commercial during the Super Bowl, and Apple introduced the Apple Macintosh for the first time. It is regarded as a masterpiece in advertising and one of the most successful commercials of all time.
In his 1983 Apple keynote address, Steve Jobs made the following comment before playing the commercial for the first time:
“It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry?”.
Ironically, three decades later Steve Jobs is still chasing the Big Blue box, in the past Big Blue was IBM’s nickname and today it’s the blue lego plugin for Adobe.
What Steve Jobs was talking about in the 1984 ad was the first IBM PC, which was created using off the shelf parts for the first time and marketed by outside distributors. It was introduced in 1980, and soon after the IBM clones began to pop out everywhere. Due to the use of the same operation system (dos) and low price, the eco-system allowed developers to deploy the same software on different machines. Jobs and his executives decided not to license Apple’s technology or OS to any other company. Back then Apple wanted total control. It wanted to sell all the products that are related to their computers; they wanted no competitors.
So what was the Super Bowl ad all about? That was just a marketing masterpiece, but in reality Apple was always a closed ecosystem. iTune lock your music. WebKit Open source open standards, but allow them to take control. Mac OS was never licensed. iHTML, iPad, and the removal of applications are no different. I would go as far as to say that Apple would want to restrict the entire web if they could, and today with OS X accountimg for nearly 11% of web usage that can be a reality!
Apple always protected their margins by keeping prices too high and controlling the end user. The control was from hardware to software. We all know how expensive it is to purchase any piece of hardware for the Mac in comparison to a PC. The majority of Apple users benefit from the ease of using a closed ecosystem. Since Apple controls the entire cycle from software to hardware, the experience is superior, and the average Joe Schmoe doesn’t really care about Flash, Unity3D, or even if Apple will block Photoshop from OS X 10.7.
Why are so many people surprised then when Apple announced that they are blocking other languages (3.3.1) on the iPhone platform or about yesterday’s news (which we don’t know if they are rumors or facts) that no software will run on Mac OS X 10.7 without being approved and signed by Apple? (according to Rixstep)
I have seen many write in their blogs and post tweets saying that “Steve Jobs has Just Gone Mad” and that “can’t be true” with the context of OS X 10.7 possibly locking the ability to publish apps without Apple’s approval.
The reason many are surprised is that Apple always appealed to the young generation, and we think of Apple as an “open minded” young company. Most designers are using a Mac. Apple store in Midtown and Soho are sexy, and they managed to fool us all with the coolness factor. In reality these are just marketing techniques, and the reality is that Apple’s executive don’t have an open minded mentality – they never had one!
Apple has moved from having less than 4% on Apple Computer to close to 10% of USA Market Share today putting it in 4th place behind HP, Dell, and Acer (according to osxdaily). The iPhone is capturing 72% of the smartphone market in Japan (according to BusinessWeek). Additionally, the iPod has half the digital music player market, and iTunes sells 70% of all legitimate music downloads (according to USAToday). Today Apple is capable of putting more restrictions and “crossing lines” since they have much more than 4% market share, and if they piss off some users it won’t affect them much. It can actually benefit them with Joe Schmoe enjoying a great experience on Apple’s computers and devices. Joe Schmoe may not be able to play all the games and surf all the websites, but overall the Apple experience will be superior to the PC experience.
Adobe Open Screen Project with WORA (Write once, run anywhere) concept is a threat to Apple’s closed ecosystem model. Even AIR on Mac OS is a threat since they don’t have full control over what the user installs which may interfere with their possible plan to force people into using iTunes for installing all their software.
Adobe has handed Apple a large development community on a silver platter that can help create more appealing applications and games for iPhone platform. Additionally, Unity3D has helped the iPhone platform with Unity powered games in the top 100 list and some amazing games such as Battle Bears, Zombieville, or Monster Trucks Nitro.
Steve Jobs sees these platforms as a threat to Apple’s closed ecosystem, and it appears that Apple would rather lose a small market share (which is growing fast anyway) rather than allow someone to tear their walled garden down. Some market share reports show Mac OS X has reached a market share of 29% (see here).
However, Apple can’t keep the technology to itself. Just as it happened with PCs, I believe that Apple’s continuous attempt to control music, applications, games and others may be the reason Apple will sink. Already, according to reports iPhone dominates but Android is the fastest growing OS.