The Macalope Daily: Softball


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Have you ever been to Macworld Expo? Well, it’s great fun, but you’re usually on your feet all day and then up late carousing at night. It’s tiring.

So, forgive the Macalope for taking an Enderle on his first day back. You know, an Enderle. It’s almost too easy, like fish in a barrel.

“Alicia Keys: The Next Steve Jobs?” (no link but a weary tip o’ the antlers to markbyrn).

A dumb, dumb barrel full of stupid, stupid fish.

What folks who haven’t read any of the early Steve Jobs biographies don’t know is that Steve Jobs—at least, the way he was seen in public—wasn’t any more real than Ronald McDonald.

And Rob Enderle—at least, the one seen in public—is some form of mold spore.

He was a creation of Apple’s advertising agency that successfully reformed Steve, a slovenly guy who didn’t like to shower, flush the toilet, or wear shoes—and had a tendency to cry if he didn’t get his way—into the near- superhuman person we saw on stage.

Now, it might be tempting to say “Yeah, but what company’s CEO isn’t some kind of fictitious representation of the company’s purported values backed up by nothing more than marketing, some kind of costume, and a carefully managed stage presence?”

But then you remember that Steve Ballmer is really that awkward, annoying, and sweaty in real life, so …

I’d pretty much given up hope that anyone else would try this Jack in the Box approach to a CEO’s image when I saw Alicia Keys on stage at the BlackBerry 10 launch. Her presentation gave me a big “what if” moment, and I’d like to share that with you this week.

Sadly, it’s not “What if I didn’t write things about Apple that defied not only logic but common decency and sometimes international proscriptions against human rights abuses?”

I’ve often thought that if I wanted to recreate the impact of Steve Jobs with another company, it would be best to start with an entertainer, particularly a successful one who had a following.

Because I have no idea what Steve Jobs did at Apple, Pixar, NeXT, or in a Trader Joe’s. Clearly.

Actually, the Macalope doesn’t believe Rob thinks this for a minute. He’s just pumping a company that’s in his stodgy old consultancy wheelhouse, even if it isn’t currently listed as a client, while poking Apple fans to generate hits.

That’s Rob’s business model.

This is what makes Alicia Keys interesting as BlackBerry’s new global creative director.

Well, desperate ploys at generating any kind of buzz are certainly interesting in a train wreck kind of way. You can’t argue with that.

It’s laughable to suggest that Jobs was a marketing-created figurehead. The Macalope has long joked that some people—the kind of people who predicted Apple’s doom after Jobs stepped down as CEO—seem to think he did all the soldering. But he actually did do some of the soldering in the early days of the company, even if he did it under Steve Wozniak’s direction. He fostered to success not one, but three companies “at the intersection of technology and liberal arts.

The Macalope knows someone who saw Jobs give a pitch to a small group of potential Apple investors back in 1980. Jobs wore a suit and was energetic and passionate about what he was talking about. Because he was invested in it in a way that the money people never would be.

The Macalope doesn’t know much about Alicia Keys, but he does know she was an iPhone user until BlackBerry showed up at her doorstep with a truckload of cash. While Steve Jobs certainly made a lot of money, he was not the kind of guy you could just pay to do something.

So, yeah, Rob Enderle’s wrong. Surprise.

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