Why Apple Can Get Away With Anything
It doesn't always follow the rules, but it makes products that make people happy.
-- Frank Costello, The Departed
If you've seen the stunning early numbers for the Apple (AAPL) iPad and the borderline-absurd boom in iPhone sales, you should know that the court of public opinion has delivered a verdict of "we just don't care" on the following three charges assorted techies, ethicists, and critics have laid against Apple:
1. Operating the App Store in an unfair manner
2. Refusing to allow Flash (ADBE) technology in Apple's mobile products such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and of course, the new iPad. (See also, Steve Jobs on Flash: Astoundingly Hypocritical)
3. Overreacting to the sale of a prototype iPhone that some clown left in a bar. (See Steve Jobs' Worst Nightmare Comes True)
And how do you get away with stuff like this?
You build products that people care about.
You may be asking yourself why I began this article quoting the murderous villain of a gangster movie.
Well, think about this.
Steve Jobs never accepted the idea that a computer couldn't look cool and be easy to use. He didn't think a phone needed a keyboard. He never wanted to make the cheapest product on the shelf. He didn't want to build a netbook the way everyone else did.
In other words, Jobs doesn't want Apple to be a product of its environment. Rather, it's creating its own, leaving competitors like Microsoft (MSFT) to bumble along in the wake.
Just take a look at what Apple has done over the past decade while operating in an extremely closed bubble:
- Made the first practical mp3 player.
- Produced the most important smartphone in history. On its first try.
- Made the first tablet computer palatable for mass use.
- Made the best laptop and desktop computers in the world.
- Became the best electronics retailer in the world.
So if you wonder why Apple can get away with its various offenses, look at this list again. Apple makes stuff that makes people happy. And that's all that matters.
The iPhone and iPad are such astoundingly unique products that nobody cares about the lack of Flash compatibility or the elimination of Asian Cheerleader Boobfest: Beyond Thunderdome from the App Store. (See also, Apple Shields Our Eyes From Bikinis). In consumers' minds, the superior products Apple makes far outweigh any concerns about its behavior.
And by being completely unapologetic about everything it does, Apple is sending out a message, albeit a subtle one, that it has enormous confidence in the strength of its devices. This course has worked, and changing direction to appease the critics would make the company look uncharacteristically directionless.
Besides, if you take a look at the history of big business, you'll see things that makes Apple's behavior look like a series of group hugs. Start with these keywords: war profiteering, conflict diamond, pharmaceutical data cover up, accounting scandal.
People have a fairly high tolerance for shenanigans in corporate America these days.
Don't take my word for it. Just follow the money. Apple is selling lots and lots of everything it makes. One million iPads in 28 days. Eight million iPhones in a quarter.
Still think anyone cares?
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