The Macalope Daily: A close second

Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, Julian Lee doesn’t quite come up to Nick Farrell’s epic level of jackassery, but he sure gave it a try.

No sooner had Steve Jobs resigned than the process of his canonisation began.

GET IT? IT’S A RELIGION. BET YOU NEVER SAW THAT COMING. BOOM. IN YOUR FACE APPLE FANS. YOU JUST GOT SCHOOLED. SUNDAY SCHOOLED.

Genius, visionary, even revolutionary were some of the epithets used to describe the man who took Apple from the brink to the world’s most valuable company.

Yet, once the hyperbole is stripped away, it may be that he was merely the man who made us fall in love with pretty gadgets, and made Apple shareholders immensely rich in the process.

Wait. It can’t be both?

Jobs made computing sexy and packaged music players, phones and portable screens to make them the must-have item for millions. But he is guilty, among other things, of bequeathing to us a worldwide cult of technological onanism from which we are unlikely to recover any time soon.

Onanism? Well, looks like someone got a word-of-the-day calendar for his birthday.

There are two ways of looking at this: You can either recognize that people get excited by technology because it enables them to do things they could never do before, or you can just think they’re worshipping false idols. Lee has picked the latter and decided to blame it all on Steve Jobs. Who, by the way, is stepping down because he has cancer. Just for context about the comity of the timing.

Carry on, douche from down under!

You can’t flirt with someone on a train if they are plugged into a two-hour shuffle of easy listening.

Is that what this is about? You bugging people on the train? Maybe those people never wanted to be bugged by you in the first place and are just using their iPods as an excuse. Did you ever think of that?

This is the same “Technology is disconnecting us!” lament that Luddites like Lee have been laying on us since at least the invention of television, if not longer. There was probably some Greek scold who warned that writing things on scrolls was going to end civilization as they knew it by making it harder for him to hit on girls at the Parthenon.

The Macalope can’t tell you how many real, flesh-and-blood friends he’s made through Twitter. He knows any number of couples who met on Twitter.

Even the TV screen has been shrunk to a neat little portable device - the iPad - that enables you to slink off into a corner and watch it on your own.

Lee apparently doesn’t have any children, so he doesn’t know the delight of having them come find you under a sink, trying to operate a wrench with hooves, and having them shove an iPad in your face because you totally have to see this part of the Road Runner right now because it’s hysterical. There are so many ridiculous ways Lee is wrong that it’s not even worth going into.

By and large, what Apple makes, we buy - unquestioningly.

Really? Really?! We never think about the other options when we buy Apple products? Even the Macalope does that! The thing is, Julian, the thing you don’t want to admit for some weird reason, is that their products are, by and large, just better.

But there is nothing very cool about the culture of the company… Its “my way or the highway” approach to business has earned it few friends.

It has, however, earned a lot of its partners (AT&T for example) a crap-ton of money. Maybe the CEOs of these companies can soothe their hurt feelings by buying themselves some yachts.

Apple is one of the few technology companies in the world that has succeeded despite having a closed ecosystem that does not work with any other technology.

Wow! Is that right? Not any other technology? Not Netflix or USB mice or Wi-Fi or Google Docs or Bluetooth headsets or freaking X11 or the Internet where the Macalope has to read idiotic prattle like yours? None of that?

Apple’s environmental record of managing the toxic fallout from its products is less than exemplary and the pricing for its products and services is based on what it can get away with rather than what is fair.

The Macalope hates to be the one to tell you this, Julian, but business, much like life, is not fair.

Australian consumers still pay $1.69 a track on its iTunes store compared to the US69¢ Americans pay, despite the strength of the Aussie dollar.

Hey, Julian, how much do you pay for Fosters? Or Uggs? Or, more to the point, how much do other digital music vendors in Australia charge?

This was the same argument the Macalope remembers people floating when tethering was introduced. “AT&T’s prices are unfair! Rogers charges less!” Uh, yeah. Rogers is in Canada. They’re different markets. AT&T charged more because it could get away with charging more. Are you people brand new to capitalism or something?

Despite its size, the myth pervades that Apple’s values today are much the same as those forged 36 years ago by two hirsute college drop-outs in a garage in Silicon Valley.

The value of reinventing difficult technologies into easier ones has consistently been Apple’s core value.

In spite of all the facts - that Apple is a ruthless corporate machine that exploits consumers at will…

Lee seems more upset with capitalism than Apple specifically. Yes. Apple is a corporation. Congratulations. You really nailed it.

…and gives little back (it doesn’t even pay its shareholders a dividend)…

Poor Apple shareholders! It’s like they’re getting nothing for their investment!

…we love this brand and the avuncular evangelist Jobs who is slowly but surely being raised to the pantheon of “greats” alongside Nobel prize winners, mighty philanthropists and, dare I say it, even religious leaders.

The Macalope would really prefer it if you didn’t dare to say it. What Lee doesn’t mention is the great business leaders which is, you know, what people are really lauding him as.

In the end I suspect Jobs will be remembered chiefly as one of, if not the, best marketers the world has ever known.

Finally, at the last sentence, we’ve reached a nice word about Jobs. And it’s in the form of a backhanded compliment.

Classy.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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