Steve Jobs, rest his soul, was an amazing salesperson. I should know—I’m writing this on my MacBook Pro. I also have the requisite iPads, iPhones, iPods, etc. I even gave up my beloved Spotify for glitchy Apple Music (the jury’s still out on that one).
With the big announcement today about the Apple Pencil, folks on the internet were happily sharing a video of Steve Jobs asking the question, “Who wants a stylus?”
I’m guessing the answer is “Apple shareholders.” At $99 for a stylus, Apple shareholders will be laughing all the way to the bank if the world bites on that. But Jobs’ rhetoric and the subsequent stylus announcement left me thinking that there’s something incongruous about what Apple says and what Apple does, and it makes me dislike Apple just a little bit more than I already do.
Apple’s strategy seems to be, “Let’s badmouth the other guys’ stuff as long as possible, then see what works and adopt it. Then we’ll say we ‘invented’ or ‘reinvented’ it so we’ll look like geniuses.” Flash storage for music devices, stylus/pencil, larger phones… the list of things Steve Jobs and Apple have publicly deprecated is unpleasantly long.
What bothers me most about this is the way Apple sets up its own customers for disappointment. Apple sells us on their way, the Apple Way, being the best way ever. Apple acolytes buy into Apple’s vision of the world and buy billions of Apple products. Steve Jobs makes fun of those dolts with their dumb styluses and everybody laughs.
The next thing you know, Apple is selling a new vision where the technology that was embarrassing and shameful is now the technology that will save us. The Apple products customers bought because they were not only good, but best and right, are now teetering on obsolescence as Apple rolls out a new vision of the world. How can an Apple customer not be a little put off by all of this?
When my mom was growing up Catholic she was taught that eating meat on Fridays was a sin. Period. Then Vatican II came along and all the sudden you could eat meat on Fridays except during Lent. Did my mom think, “What a wonderful new revelation! I’m so glad I’m a part of this!” Hardly. Instead, she lost faith in the church, thinking, “What kind of organization says something is wrong one day then right the next?”
I’ll tell you who, Mom. Apple.
Here’s my encouragement to you: sell the world on your greatness, your superior ideas, products and services, without talking smack about the other guy. Even though it may feel like an easy win today, you and your customers may regret it sooner or later.