November 4, 2017

QotD: The ultimate Steve Jobs device

Filed under: Business, Quotations, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The iPad is the ultimate Steve Jobs device – so hypnotic that not only do people buy one without knowing what it’s good for, they keep feeling like they ought to use it even when they have better alternatives for everything it does. It’s a triumph of style over substance, cool over utility, form over actual function. The viral YouTube videos of cats and two-years-olds playing with it speak truth in their unsurpassable combination of draw-you-in cuteness with utter pointlessness. It’s the perfect lust object of postmodern consumerism, irresistibly attractive but empty – you know you’ve been played by the marketing and design but you don’t care because your complicity in the game is part of the point.

This has to be Steve Jobs’s last hurrah. I predict this not because he is aging and deathly ill, but because he can’t possibly top this. It is the ne plus ultra of where he has been going ever since the Mac in 1984, with his ever-more obsessive focus on the signifiers of product-design attractiveness. And it’s going to make Apple a huge crapload of money, no question.


Fast-forward this a couple years and I can see Apple in hell, committed to sexy overpriced products that nobody actually needs, undercut by Android from all directions, and subsisting on a decaying aura of pop-cultural cool. Because that’s what tends to happen when you put yourself in the fashion business and you’re past your peak; those who live by hipness get to die by it too.

Eric S. Raymond, “Apple, postmodern consumerism and the iPad”, Armed and Dangerous, 2010-04-22.

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