Recently, Dickoy put up a very interesting set of observations regarding how Apple fared (“The Steve Jobs Factor”) with its recent iPad launch, without Steve Jobs at the helm.
The verdict: It’s okay, but…
And that’s a very bothersome but.
So some cracks are starting to show, and while the rest of the world probably didn’t notice these little details, the most fervent of Apple loyalists did. And they’re worried about it.
After Steve passed away last October, I did an op ed piece on why Apple won’t be the same without Steve (“Without Steve Jobs, Apple is just…”). It ruffled some feathers, particularly of die-hard Apple lovers who insisted that the dynamic duo of Tim Cook and Sir Jonathan Ive have been handpicked precisely to take over where Steve left off. (It also didn’t help that I compared Apple to Samsung, of “Dude, you’re a barista” fame, heheh.)
So the way it was supposed to work was that Tim would take care of actually running the business, while Jon would ensure that Apple product designs would remain consistent with whatever Apple Way was in place.
But here’s the problem: no matter how much Tim and Jon have been briefed and prepped and apprenticed by Steve, well, they’re still no Steve. Tim maybe a kick-ass logistics brain, but he’s no marketer. And Jon may be one of the best designers in the world, if not the best designer, but he still doesn’t think like Steve.
Here’s a quick story.
When the iPhone 4 was in its design stage, Jon Ive’s original design, and the one that he was gunning for, had a hard plastic display up front. This way, it could lead to a lighter phone without sacrificing toughness too much. That’s Jon’s line of thinking.
Steve handles the phone and was okay with it… until nearly at the last minute he makes a call saying Sorry Tim, this just isn’t working for me. Make it glass.
That’s the Jobs factor. And it’s a decision that’s hard to explain or pass on. It just didn’t work for him.
How do you translate that into a design protocol? It’s so… personal.
And that’s against Jonathan Ive already. The best damn designer in the whole wide world.
There were frayed edges that Dickoy noted from the recent new iPad launch. The slightly off fonts, the unimpressive invite, and the lack of sheer showmanship. To everyone else at Apple, they just seemed fine. But they’re not. They wouldn’t have passed the Jobs test. And, well, Jobs is no longer there.
It’s hard to replace a personality. You adapt. You cope. You do the best that you can. But in so doing, you still change.
The question now is whether or not Apple fans will be willing to, to put it bluntly, lower their standards from here on.
I said in my piece that Apple will be fine for the next couple of years. But after that… well… hmmm…
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