Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Apple Challenge

I am glad the Mercury News decided to stand up for bloggers in their editorial, "Yes, they're still journalists." Most people are surprised that a company which has such a shining public image would go after bloggers. Of course Apple has a history of secrecy and certainly hasn't shown any openess in years. Perhaps the shining public image is only skin deep.

The real problem with the suit is that Apple is trying to solve an internal problem by going after external people. For some reason Apple employees are willing to leak information about unannounced products. I think there is very little evidence that this has done any harm to Apple. As much as Apple wants to complain, no one has been successful at copying Apple hardware products over the years.

Of course software is another story. Microsoft was successful at copying the essence's of Apple's user interface over several years. It certainly wasn't done in secrecy and apparently was legal.

Perhaps the real way for Apple to fix the problem is to create an employee environment that cares more about adhering to the internal Apple dictates for secrecy than for throwing a little fresh meat to their fans. With nearly $5B in the bank, Apple should be able to have a lot of very happy employees.

Apple is a strange company, it has the most loyal customers in the world, but it lives in fear that the slightest slip will cost them their customers. Actually just the opposite is true, if Apple were to open up to potential customers it would have more customers. Somehow I don't think that is going to happen.

The secrecy-driven reality distortion zone has been going on for so long that Apple doesn't know how to get out the cycle or understand the benefits of doing business any other way. At the same time there is a Linux freight train headed down Apple's tracks. I don't think Apple understands the Linux threat or the challenge that it faces in the computer part of its business. What they are doing to the bloggers, may just confirm many people's opinion of Apple, "Love the products, hate the company." It certainly isn't going to help their 2% market share.

For more insight on Apple, check out my "Apple Peels" blog.

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