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Editorial: Are you being served? By David Leishman firstname.lastname@example.org
Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff writes that the time is ripe for an economic revolution, and the root causes are “corporate narcissism, greed, rigidity and sheer cluelessness.”
The advent of “modern” marketing meant your grandpa’s grandma was thrilled to be able to buy crackers in individual boxes rather than from a barrel. A hundred years later, the thrill is gone. And ironically, those 20th century mass-marketing techniques produced an informed, product-savvy consumer society that now faces a “chasm…filled with our stress, outrage and frustration.” A society that knows what it wants, and those wants don’t include having to deal with companies that feel doing business is defined by their self-centered, short-sighted model.
What we want are merchants who recognize that our trade really is their most important asset. Companies that provide goods and services that enable us to excel, not just to “get through” our ever-increasing and complex workloads. Companies that are investigating what tools we might need in the future.
To that point, Dell president and COO Kevin Rollins’ keynote address this week at TechXNY, on the “maturity” of the tech industry, was generally uninspiring. You know the drill: The move toward standardization and away from proprietary technology will continue to increase the pace of innovation. 64-bit computing is a “potential” wave of the future for desktops. Yadda-yadda.
But towards the end of the session, someone asked him to predict what a PC will look like 30 years from now. He responded that the form will change, but that “it’s impossible to know what (it) will look like.”
Well, maybe. But I’d sure like to hear Steve Jobs’ answer to the question. You know, the fella whose “Innovation is what we do” mantra was reiterated during his keynote at Macworld Expo in Paris last week.
I think Mr. Jobs’ answer to the “30-year” question would be that the term “PC” will serve as an acronym for a group of technology-based services and products, ranging from movie downloads to medical alerts, and from “data glasses” to smarter cars.
And Mr. Jobs understands service. An American Customer Satisfaction Index report from Quarter 2, 2003 reveals Apple has a rating of 77 out of 100, up 5.5 percent from a year ago. Which puts it one point behind, and gaining on, Mr. Rollins’ Dell. Even more tellingly, this is up from the 69 percent rating that Mr. Jobs faced five years ago when he returned to Apple.
.Mac is his, and Apple’s, initial foray into consumer-centric services. Its 57 percent renewal rate points to customers’ sensitivity to price, but the company is already adding discounts and ancillary goods to soften the price hit. I wager they’ll move even further along this path, because Mr. Jobs understands that the economic revolution predicted by Professor Zuboff provides a “once-in-a-century opportunity” to put the consumer at the center of its business strategies.
(Professor Zuboff’s latest book, “The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and The Next Episode of Capitalism,” co-authored by James Maxmin, is available here.)
Apple unveils PowerBook updates, new wireless keyboard and mouse
Apple unveiled new PowerBooks this week at Apple Expo Paris, including the much-anticipated 15-inch model, as well as updated 17-inch and 12-inch models. Apple CEO Steve Jobs also announced a new Bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse, which will be available in about two weeks. Topping off the news today Apple is offering a rebate for users who purchase Keynote and a new Mac.
Apple holding ‘Digital Photography Tour’
Rubinstein: PowerBook G5 a matter of ‘solid engineering’
Ballmer: Apple doing ‘good, innovative’ work
iTunes Music Store coming to Europe next year
Rubinstein, Tevanian included among top innovators
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The trade group behind the PC Card (PCMCIA) has released the standard for the PC Card’s successor: A smaller, faster card that goes in a slot that could become as common in desktops as in mobile devices. The new card — called ExpressCard — is based on USB 2.0 and PCI Express interfaces that will be standard in the coming generation of desktop systems.
AntennaKit extends range of Extreme, Snow Base Stations
Aurora Pipe designed for Apple’s RT Extreme engine
Smart car with iPod to roll out at Apple Expo
Wacom intros new Graphire3 tablet system
Xerox rolls out new printers, multifunction device
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Schiller previews G5-optimized Final Cut Pro 4
During his Saturday keynote at the International Broadcasting Convention 2003, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, demonstrated the company’s suite of professional post-production software tools, including a preview of a pre-release version of Final Cut Pro 4 optimized for the Power Mac G5. He also re-asserted Apple’s ongoing commitment to the professional creative markets.
QuickTime chief leery of plan to standardize Windows Media 9
IntelliMerge ready for Panther
Waterfall’s iVideo offers iPhoto-like movie viewing
Alphabet Soup makes musical instrument of Mac keyboard
Space Designer reverb for Logic 6 due next month
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Around the Web
Should a License Be Required to Go Online?
“Barely a day goes by without someone, somewhere getting stung or stinging others through careless Internet use,” writes Anick Jesdanun. Analysts cover possible remedies for the problem, including the pros and cons of tests, licenses. even the automatic download of software fixes by software companies. All well and good, but as the articles notes, “licensed motorists still speed and ignore stop signs.”
Tim O’Reilly on Digital Rights Management
Mobile phones ‘make you senile’
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