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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Absolutely stunning Steve Jobs/Apple article

New York Magazine's John Heilemann has written an amazing article about Steve Jobs, timed to the introduction of the iPhone. There's just so much good info here, I can only point out a few bits.

On the iPhone:
The emerging consensus, in fact, is that the [mobile phone makers'] dread is warranted. That Jobs is about to do it again—to unleash another object of overwhelming, consciousness-drenching, culture-shifting desire. That Apple’s past is merely preface to a period of increasing and metastasizing dominance.
On Apple's shaky position a decade ago:
Jobs told friends the company was 90 days away from bankruptcy. [As I've said repeatedly, by the way. --Paul]
On the genius of simplicity:
"He said, ‘We’re going to do just four things,’ and then he drew this grid: laptop, desktop, consumer, business. That was it. And I was, like, ‘Beautiful!’"
On the luck of the success of the iPod:
The initial hopes for the iPod were modest. It was conceived as simply another part of the company’s “digital hub” initiative: an assortment of features (iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, etc.) intended to make the Mac as mediacentric as possible. At the launch, Jobs touted the iPod’s functionality as a spare disk drive. The notion that it would transform Apple from an also-ran computer outfit into a consumer-electronics powerhouse never occurred to anyone.
On the success of the iTunes Store:
The iTunes Store has ... directly contributed next to nothing to Apple’s bottom line. But Jobs never intended to make a bundle by retailing music. The purpose of the iTunes store was strictly to sell more iPods.
On how iPod and iTunes lock out competition:
The link between the iPod and iTunes is ... designed to limit consumer choice, to foster reluctance among consumers who own iTunes tracks to switch to other devices. It has prompted complaints by European governments to the European Commission—which so far have come to naught.
On why subscription music services make sense, despite Apple's tunnel-vision:
“Right now, the download model is necessary because I want to take music in the car or to the gym. But once we have true mobile broadband, the streaming model is going to take off. Then there’s never really going to be a need to own files at all. It’ll all just be there in the cloud.” As for music discovery, Wilson says, “I’ve never found one single artist or song on iTunes … It’s an online version of Tower Records, only worse.”

MusicNet’s McGlade, whose products compete with iTunes, agrees. “The issue with download purchases is that every time you want to hear a track, you’ve got to make a buying decision,” he says. “I gotta tell you, once you put people on a subscription service, they can’t go back.”
On Gates and Jobs at "D" (and agreeing with me that Gates seemed much more composed than Jobs):
The joint interview was revealing on other levels, too. Whereas Gates came across as entirely at ease, almost avuncular, Jobs was coiled as tight as a spring. Whereas Gates spoke happily about the marks, technological and philanthropic, he would leave on the world, Jobs squirmed at the notion of bequeathal, with its intimations of mortality.
There's so much more in there: The compromise that is the iPhone feature-set, a persistent Google/Apple merger rumor, and so on. Definitely worth the read. Just fascinating stuff.

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