Let me first say that I have nothing against Steve Jobs. I didn’t follow his career and the only Apple product I ever owned was an iPod that I won at a company raffle and sold to a fellow employee moments later. I love just about everything that ever came out of Pixar but I’m pretty convinced that a Pixar entwined with Disney is doomed to start churning out Disneyesque cartoon tripe that will break out into a show toon at any odd moment. Steve Jobs was a brilliant marketer and perhaps an innovator but he certainly didn’t invent anything of merit.
The personal computer, Apple would call theirs Apples or Macintosh, or the later, half-eaten gummy bear-like, throwaway, disposable iMac. This all-in-one wonder was one of those products that when one component broke, you’d just toss it for a whole new system. I have to think that this was the plan for the iMac. Apple was a Johnny-come-lately to the personal computing world too. They were about a decade behind the other giants like HP and IBM in their releases of the first computers which had single-line displays; later we’d call similar products word processors – but these computers were made to do more than just replace the typewriter so a word processor doesn’t apply. Nevertheless, they played important roles – foremost being the direction NOT to take when trying to dominate the world. Apple made and continues to make the same mistake; they have kept their systems closed and opted for a model where they have control over the hardware and operating system. As a result, there are far fewer applications, especially in the business world, that are available for the Apple flavor of operating systems. They also don’t have a viable, commercial server operating system with centralized policy management and so, they are the red-headed step child of most serious networks which today, run the Microsoft operating systems in the “back office.”
The portable media player, Apple decided to call theirs the iPod, was invented way back in 1979 by a guy named Kane Kramer (I don’t know anything else about Kane Kramer, I don’t care) and Apple later hired him. Kramer called his music thing the IXI. But the more modern versions, usually called MP3 players because of the format of the media they play, started showing up in 1996 and in 1998 a South Korean company, SaeHan Information Systems, started selling their MPMan. Clearly, the name was a play on the old Sony Walkman radios that were quite popular before MP3 players were available. Apple, on the other hand, didn’t sell their first portable music player until 2001.
The smart phone, Apple decided to call theirs the iPhone, was invented way back in 1992 by IBM (yes, it was a brick). Smart phones were the merging of PDA devices and mobile telephones. Of course they’ve grown in power over time, just like other technologies have. Among ultra popular PDAs was the Palm Pilot and they lost the battle when they failed to make the transition from PDA to smart phone. I remember the day when businessmen would glide down the office hallway in their freshly pressed, black business suits with their Batman-like tool belt complete with Palm Pilot, mobile phone and if they were really sharp, they still had their old Blackberry pager with the qwerty keyboard capable of sending text messages (the pager, of course, is what so many young people think is new technology – wow texting is so cool). Apple finally entered the smart phone market in 2007. Of course it seems that every Apple owning automaton got in like and bought it and they continue to get suckered into buying a new model every time one is released. Once again, there’s nothing of significance that was invented or that is revolutionary about iPhones. They are just next generation improvements on existing examples of technology (touch screens for example).
Tablet computers, Apple decided to call theirs the iPad, gained significance in 2001 when Microsoft announced the concept and then released their XP Tablet Edition operating system in late 2002. Their were numerous styles of tablet computers. Most were like notebook computers but their screens either folded 180 degrees around and you would flip the device over and write on the touch screen with a stylus or tap on an onscreen keyboard. Others would open like any other notepad, swivel 180 degrees and then have the screen folded back down so the unit would not need to be flipped over. A few were in the slate style, which is, exactly like the various “pads” on the market today with the exception that the slate style tablet computers were/are full powered computers capable of running any software compatible with the device’s operating system and hardware resources. That’s the major difference between the tablet PC and the subsequent offshoot of the pad; the pads are limited use devices focused on delivering entertainment like movies, music and books or for playing games and browsing the Internet. This is the next logical step for personal computing as the PDA/Phone combination that we now call the smart phone begins to merge with the personal computer. Microsoft launched Active Desktop back in 1997 as a component of Internet Explorer 4. I view the attempts by Microsoft and others such as Pointcast as the front runners of the active style of content which is the conceptual basis of the content delivered to pad style devices. Apple introduced its iPad in 2010. It was apparently wildly popular but I didn’t take the bait ~ that money is earning interest or dividends and I can surf the Internet on my computer, I can read the airplane magazine for free, I don’t need to listen to music (I have my own imagination), I’d much rather watch a movie at home, after I play a game too long I feel like I’ve just wasted a lot of time. Do you really need a pad device? If I were to buy something right now, I’d buy the cheapest Kindle which I can load up with over a thousand books from the 2 million or so public domain titles that are available and I can do that for hundreds less than one lone version of iPad to choose from.
Sure there are shades of gray when one of the ”i’s“ might argue what constitutes a computer or PDA but the point is, the technology was out there already. Nothing revolutionarily new was introduced by Apple or Steve Jobs, only new products based on existing technology or the merging of those technologies. Yes, Steve Jobs was a very effective marketer of Apple products But no, he was no great inventor. He did have the iFlock of iSheeple wrapped around his pinky (I’m being nice) and iSay, hopefully, the rest of us will soon see a fading away of the “i“ branding of Apple products that are so representative of a corporation that makes me think of communism or medical choices in Canada!
Mark Twain said, “Civilization is the limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries.”
iSay, “Ask yourself, do you really need that latest iGadget and the associated iBills?”