In walking to and from the restroom of the local spot where I tend to do my writing, I stole glances at everyone’s cell phones. They were overwhelmingly a particular type of phone from a particular large tech company.
Then I noticed something else entirely: the majority of these particular owners of these particular phones were roughly as old as Newton.
How is this company considered haute tech? Do we see hipsters in utilitarian McCall’s flannels? Are tech enthusiasts into shuffleboard and hang out with folks in The Villages playing pinochle? Indeed, directly above my laptop screen, two senior citizens are sporting that particular tech company’s new, smaller version of their tablet.
It’s official: gray is the new black.
I make no bones about the fact that I’m a BlackBerry user: I started with a Curve 8330, now have a Bold 9650, was an early adopter of the PlayBook (and took a bath on that. Still smarting over that, RIMBerry) and am awaiting the release of the BB10 phones in America. (Still smarting over that, too, RIMBerry. And Sprint, you need to get your act together and release the Z10.) I have a propensity for calling those who have mindlessly given in to the serpent’s fruit iTards. I only know one person who can explain precisely why he prefers that ecosystem to any other.
Now, I don’t have any true animus toward fans of Apple, but the idea that Apple is fashion-forward and ahead of the curve is as much a fiction as Walmart’s prices always being the lowest: brands, when they reach a certain point, become more reliant on their reputation than they do on the products they produce. In fact, one needs only look to the brand that people tend to link with those whom are old or, worse yet, behind-the-times: BlackBerry. In the mid-2000s, BlackBerry dominated the mobile sector, businesses and government entities handed them out for their proficiency with communications and their security (still the global standard.) Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007 and proceeded to introduce a paradigm shift in the mobile market, that paradigm being, that Apple dominates and everyone else plays catch up from there.
The fact remains, though, that iOS is essentially the same platform it was at the outset. Sure, there are more bells and whistles and enough push-button whoopie cushions in the App Store to satisfy every seven-to-ten-year-old boy (…OK, and me, too) on the planet, but nothing about it is particularly different since its introduction into the marketplace.
And yet, the brand that is seen to be antiquated is BlackBerry. Wait, what?
In fairness, RIMBerry’s offerings over the past few years–PlayBook excepted, because the performance on that continues to be on par, if not exceeding, any other tablet in the market–for phones have left much to be desired. They crushed their own hopes of creating revenue with BB7 phones by introducing BB10 (then BBX, before Canadian litigation) and have been relying on offering low-end phones to emerging markets (to a degree of success) to sustain their balance sheets.
But what, really, is the difference between what BlackBerry has had to offer versus what Apple has? The illusion of evolution is present in both, but in reality, BlackBerry has revamped their entire corporate culture and catalog (even changing the name of the company to BlackBerry, a smart decision) while Apple’s latest offering, the iPad mini is a step down from the last tablet, while the iPhone has had routine problems with each iteration since 3Gs. (Bumper-gate, anyone? Antenna issues?) Even Apple apologists are wondering where exactly the beef is, and yet, throngs will line up to buy the iPhone, and throngs will then e-trample each other to buy the old version on craigslist. Quoth Maury Ballstein: “Right now, [Apple] is so hot, [CEO Tim Cook] can take a crap, wrap it in tin foil, put a couple of fishhooks on it and sell it to Queen Elizabeth as earrings.”
In short, Apple is, to me, acting like the $13/share company, while BlackBerry is actually showing some guts and acting like the company that is king of the hill by taking a gamble. (And, even then, they don’t get full credit because they’ve inexplicably held America, the one market with the greatest potential for raw capital, out of the one thing that can turn the company around.)
Officially, nothing makes any sense at all.
We aren’t amazed by Apple because of what they’re offering, or because they’re anything distinct from anything else. We are amazed by and buy Apple because we think it’s better. It’s nothing more than a status symbol, a way the youth establish themselves as something and geezers want to appear to remain relevant. BlackBerry is passed over not because it’s anything particularly deficient, but because the youth don’t care about security and the old want to appear to remain relevant.
Thus, Apple’s fate is coming, not because they’re going to make a mistake, but because, eventually, they’ll be seen as we tend to see BlackBerry, Trapper Keepers, Cross Colours, Girbaud, Betamax and teal-colored sports uniforms: passe. And Steve Jobs’ legacy will be cemented, as we all gasp and deify him as a tech god–See? The company couldn’t keep up with the visionary!
I’m not a techie, though I like my technology. I am a BlackBerry user, but not a blind fanboy. I just don’t see how the mythos that surrounds Cupertino can continue to be justified over the long-term.
All fresh fruit goes bad after time. No hate, no spite. Just an observation.