Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 18th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
Content copyright © 1995 - 2013 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk
Please visit the sponsor!
If anyone needs proof that we've moved from the industrial revolution to the age of technology then they need only look at the headlines in today's papers.
Apple has been deemed "the most valuable public company in human history".
Now that's quite impressive, for a company that didn't even exist 40 years ago.
Perhaps the Apple story ought to now usurp the legend of Hewlett Packard as the quintessential garage to riches startup saga.
The news must also be a tremendous boost for the Apple fanbois who have been doing battle with the Windows fanbois for decades and until very recently, have always been in second-place.
Apple's success is also creates some interesting observations about us, the people who constitute the "global marketplace".
It seems that we still spend more money on what we "want" rather than what we really "need".
How can it be that a company which sells what are pretty much "luxury goods" and entertainment products can usurp those who sell things such as energy, transport, food, housing and even banking?
Well the answer is pretty obvious - Apple has been incredibly successful at creating new markets and owning them (my own personal mantra for business success).
The iPod created a whole new market for stylish personal media players
Before the iPad there really wasn't any viable tablet computer.
The iPhone was a watershed in smartphone design and technology
And iTunes has been a very smart way of keeping the Apple 'i' range of hardware fed with content, thus ensuring strong cashflows despite ups and downs in the sale of devices.
Was Steve Jobs a visionary?
Some might say that -- but I think his real strength was his understanding of what people "want" rather than what they "need". Yes, perhaps he was a visionary, insomuch as he seems to have been able to figure out what people "wanted" before they knew themselves.
He also had "cohones grande" ('scuse my French).
Right back when corporate Apple was working on the Apple III and the Lisa -- Jobs had the testicular fortitude to go his own way with the Mac. It was a gamble, but it paid off.
Apple corporate thought people needed a powerful "top of the line" computer with a WIMP interface.
Jobs knew that people *wanted* a cheaper, affordable, practical computer with WIMP interface.
Jobs was right and the Lisa was stillborn while the Mac was Apple's saviour.
But Jobs wasn't perfect - even he got it wrong some times -- as with his ill-fated NeXT Computer venture.
The NeXT (which was not an Apple product) was a bold attempt to set a new benchmark - but it was too expensive and beyond the reach of the market which best appreciated Jobs insight.
Eventually, with Jobs back at the helm, and in firm control, Apple retained its focus on the "consumer" market and became acutely aware of the importance that "content" would play in the future fortunes of the company.
It was interesting to see just how quickly they spotted the convergence of mobile phones and portable computing -- a convergence that was expressed in the company's highly successful iPhone product.
While Apple's competitors in the mobile phone market (such as Nokia, RIM, Microsoft) have almost fallen from view, the company continues to keep pumping out new versions which in many cases, are more for styling and "snob" value than in an attempt to deliver vital new features.
Apple knows that "want" usurps "need" every time when it comes to something as fashionable as a mobile phone and this strategy is keeping the cash-registers ringing.
However, I have a feeling that, with the passing of Steve Jobs, we may be seeing "peak Apple".
With the rise of iPad competitors such as the Nexus and smartphones that are more affordable and feature-laden than the iPhone (the Android-based Samsung Galaxy for instance), Apple has much hard work ahead if it's to retain its crown of "worlds most valuable company".
It will be extremely interesting to see how the company fares without Steve Jobs at the helm -- is there anyone else who can deliver his incredible ability to "create new markets and own them" -- or will they instead fall into the typical corporate strategy of simply cutting costs to sustain profits on products that are reaching their best-by date instead of staying two steps ahead of the market?
Interesting days ahead me thinks!
Please visit the sponsor!
Oh, and don't forget today's sci/tech news headlines
Remember, this is purely a gift, you'll get nothing other than a warm fuzzy feeling in return.