“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.”
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