The Macalope: Moon-eyed


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Ashlee Vance is the latest to ride the Apple double-standard train. Woo-woo! All aboard! This train makes stops in Unfair Comparison Junction and Misunderstanding History Gulch!

(This is why you should never let drunken prospectors name towns.)

“Apple and the Mysterious Case of the Missing Moonshot” (tip o’ the antlers to Antti Vanhanen).

Wait, did Apple fake the moon landings, too?! No, Vance just thinks Apple needs to “think big.” Because if there’s anything we know about the company, it’s Apple’s history of timid, lame product releases.

As Apple’s share price plummeted, people have been grousing that the company saturated its core markets and failed to come up with the next big thing. For the most part, they seem to be awaiting some new consumer electronics gizmo that will blow everyone’s minds—and carry Apple into an untapped market in which it can hoover up all the profits. That’s fair enough.

Is it? Why is this standard, one that nobody applies to any other company, just okey-dokey when applied to Apple?

Google (GOOG), with its self-driving cars and virtual reality glasses, is really starting to show Apple up.

Oh, totally. Just think where we’d all be without our self-driving cars and virtual reality glasses.

Uh, wait …

Oh, that’s right, Google hasn’t sold one unit of those to a consumer. It’s almost like Vance doesn’t understand that Apple and Google operate differently.

… since Apple is so darn secretive, it may once again surprise us all. Unlike Google, Apple doesn’t really do public beta tests.

Oh, so he does understand how Apple works. He just finds the company annoying for not operating at his pace. Or something.

It would be a shame if a company with hundreds of all-stars, such as [former director or Yale University’s Center for Engineering Innovation & Design John] Morrell, isn’t working on something more daring than the next gadget.

So now, apparently, the goal posts move again. It’s not enough for Apple to make an innovative device that remakes and popularizes a whole market of products, indeed creating entire industries. No, Apple has to land on the moon. Literally. (Literally?)

The thing that Vance doesn’t seem to get is how transformative these mere “gadgets” can be. It’s a common game to consider that technology would have proceeded apace had Apple not shipped the Macintosh, or the iPhone, or the iPad. The Macalope considers that hogwash, but we’ll never know, will we? Because Apple did introduce those devices and in doing so it helped bring first desktop computers and then mobile computers to people who wouldn’t have had them in their lifetime.

Google’s projects are certainly neat, but they’re not transformative until people can actually use them. Apple appreciates that nuance.

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