Falling Out of Love With Steve Jobs

The iMac, iPad, iPhone, endless apps. Steve Jobs is an evil genius -- creating a never-ending thirst for all things Apple. But where does integrity factor into the brand?

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I'm all i-Ed out. At the moment I'm packing an iMac, iPad, iPod and iPhone, and David Pogue's review convinced me that I must have the new MacAir because, well, my iPad plus external keyboard just isn't cutting it for real work and real deadlines, no matter how many cool apps I've dutifully downloaded. I woke up this morning thinking that either I need each and every one of these devices to survive life on earth, or Steve Jobs is one of the biggest, baddest drug dealers of all time, and I'm addicted to his product.

I've been using Macs since high school, when my father bought me a 512K Enhanced Macintosh to bang out my college applications and I fell in love with the plug-and-play functionality designed for technologically challenged and manual-reading averse humans like myself. I use Macs today for those reasons and more. They're capable of amazing feats of digital wonder, and they drip with heart-stopping beauty.

But Apple really got me at "Think Different." The legendary campaign associated Apple users with Gandhi, John Lennon, Picasso, Einstein and Dr. King; who wouldn't want to be in that company? The bold, minimalist campaign suggested a seamless practice of companywide integrity that trumped all comers.

But things appear to be changing at Apple. At times, profit appears to be steering the ship. Some also say that Jobs has a scary God complex. And as a producer friend texted me the other day while we were waxing rhapsodic about the new MacAir, the company has consumers strung out, drinking Kool-Aid that may have been delish, organic and bursting with integrity 20 years ago, but today may be anything but.

Let's start with the suicides at the Apple plant in China. Apparently the stress of maintaining secrecy about prototypes and manufacturing conditions is so tremendous, workers snap under the constant scrutiny and … jump off the tops of buildings. Apple Computer Inc. was also one of the companies included in Greenpeace International's "E-Waste Hall of Shame." More than 70 environmental groups signed a letter to former Vice President Al Gore, who sits on the board of Apple, asking him to push the company to become more sustainable.

Closer to home, Steve Jobs is so powerful that complaining about his products or person has been likened to a death sentence for those in the media, and right-wing conservative Rupert Murdoch, He Who Rules All Things Media Worldwide, thinks Jobs is the second coming. Recently the two media moguls announced the digital love child, an "iNewspaper" called the Daily. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

In older news, Jobs recently went gangsta in a text to a student who asked about the lack of responsiveness of Apple's PR department in response to questions she asked for a research paper. Among other responses, Jobs informed the budding journalist that Apple's "goals do not include helping you get a good grade."

Nor did Jobs concede when millions of Apple users threw up our collective hands when we found ourselves without Flash on our iPhones and iPads. According to Jobs, Flash is an inferior product and HTML5, though not used often, is better. Adobe doesn't agree. Same with iPhone 4 antenna-gate. No apologies. Apple is perfect. Do you want fries -- I mean accessories -- with that?  

The incessant rollout and concomitant pressure to buy new products also gives me pause. I bought into the iPad, and now, barely three months later, here comes Charlie with some new stuff on the street: a laptop I've gotta have and an iPhone I apparently can't live without.

In an acknowledged departure from my demand for all things Apple, my loyalty to RIM knew no bounds. But after my Blackberry had an unfortunate mishap with a puddle, I was practically steamrolled into buying the iPhone 4 by a salesman at AT&T who made me feel I'd miss out on a ticket for Branson's commercial space shuttle if I didn't buy it.