Slate: Steve Jobs, a new mogul with old methods

“In the last decade, Steve Jobs has led Apple to unprecedented profitability. He has also put the company on the path followed by every dominant information empire of the 20th century,” Tim Wu writes for Slate. “Despite his partnership with AT&T (and perhaps soon Verizon, the other half of the old AT&T empire), it is Hollywood as designed by Adolph Zukor, not the Bell system, that is the clearest model for Steve Jobs’ Apple. Like Zukor, who aspired to integrate every part of the film industry, Jobs looks to integrate wherever he can: retail, hardware, software, apps, and content are all either under Apple’s direct control or subject to its approval.”

“Apple’s vision of the future is based on the marriage of 21st-century technology with the 20th century’s approach to integration. The best content from Hollywood and New York and the telephone and networking power of AT&T converge in Apple’s tools, which respond instantly to every human desire. It is a combination of undeniable power and attraction,” Wu writes. “Best of all, the worst of the Internet—the spam, the unreliable apps, the messy, amateur content—are eliminated.”

Wu writes, “It would be idiocy to deny the attractions of Apple’s vision and the brilliance of its products. The model that Apple is following has a long track record of success in the media industries. But if history is any guide, massive integration poses long-term dangers, particularly once the golden age ends.”

Read more in the full article here.

19 Comments

  1. You know Steve has a history of partnering with people who later turn-out to have had only their own interests at heart and saw Apple/Steve as a means by which they could carry out their own designs. We all trust Apple to provide us with a quality and trouble free world. I know I do. But Steve Jobs won’t always be there to captain the SS Apple and some day all of that concentrated control might come back to bite us. Not saying it’s happening right now but in a way you get the feeling that despite Jobs being pretty crafty himself he doesn’t always recognize how crafty someone like Schmidt can be.

  2. I think Steve Jobs did a wonderful job bringing Apple Computer back from the dead.

    However I wished he would have listened more to the Woz about keeping the hardware and software open.

    This trend towards iOS and the MacAppStore has got a lot of people worried, they know they won’t have the control over their own machines anymore.

    Firefox is a open browser with thousands of wonderful and useful add-on’s created, plus persona’s plus other things to make one’s browsing experience personal and useful.

    Safari on the other hand has only a small handful of add-ons, and only because Firefox was so much competition that Steve allowed them in the first place.

    Goes to show what allowing user choice and freedom can do towards innovation and human experience with computers.

    Steve is leading Apple down a limited and restricted world. Useful and needed for some, sure, but not everyone.

    Sad. He just doesn’t get it. All controlling and thinking he knows what everyone wants in a computer.

  3. Apple isn’t about dictating life to people, it’s about controlling its products so that the user gets the best possible experience. There’s nothing wrong with control – as long as it’s done from the standpoint of making products better and more usable, which is precisely what Apple does.

  4. Steve Jobs is following Nintendo’s playbook without Nintendo’s fee gouging. All Apps must be approved by the Overlord.

    Look at the wonderful ‘Open’ Windows system. Windows does not sigh Apps as good to run on Windows. Never see that happen. No way!

    Trouble is, every high end anti-virus software program for Windows on the market, including Microsoft’s own anti-virus software, signs Apps as good to run on Windows.

    Yes, Windows is a walled garden if you want to run Malware free and pay extra yearly for that privilege.

    How’s that hypocrisy for you.

  5. @Big Als MBP

    It’s not about signing apps, it’s about Apple not associating itself with programs of a dual use nature.

    Baseball bats can be used to smash mailboxes or hit balls with.

    Penetration software can be used to hack networks or test them from being hacked.

    In some countries, Handbrake is perfectly legal, so should Apple users in those countries be denied their right to make copies of media that they own in case the original gets damaged?

    Apple is going to apply the rules it’s governed by to everyone in the world who uses a Mac or a iOS device.

    It’s dangerous to say the least.

  6. Security of both end users & IP owners. Every app that comes through the Mac app store will be signed by Apple, just as Software Updates are ( note the certificate in the upper RH corner of the installer ) & is an assumption of some level of liability by Apple regardless of what the EULA may say.
    Needless to say, theftware will not be available.

  7. But the beauty of Apple’s “integrated system” is that it allows third parties to make lots and lots of money, whether in media, apps, e-books, iAds, peripherals or open standards like Airplay.

    An analogy helps explain or illustrate a principle. It doesn’t prove it.

  8. @ Often Right,

    Does often right mean sometimes you vote Democrat?

    Seriously though, Steve says the Mac App store will not be the only source of Mac Apps.

    We know you won’t have to Jailbreak a Mac just to instal the latest version of HandBrake or Carbon Copy Cloner.

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