Dateline Paris, France–In order to establish “complete uniformity in device-usage” at latte-steeped customer-pods from San Diego to Jakarta, the Universal Café Consortium today officially prohibited anyone using a non Jobs-inspired digital device from sitting down at a café table.
“There have been too many complaints,” said the UCC. “Café customers worldwide have been 99% Apple users for some time now. Many feel non-Apple devices may cause disruptions in their karmic energy fields.”
The above of course is false.
At the iOS café. . .
But with Apple stock soaring and iPads as multitudinous as potentially habitable planets in the Milky Way, can the day be far off when the last non-Apple device is seen in the company of its embarrassed owner squirting simple syrup into his or her espresso?
Or is the ubiquity of OS X/iOS at creative hotspots merely the logical outcome of The Mighty Jobs’ first catch-phrase: that Apple (specifically the Macintosh 128 with no hard drive and an absurdly small amount of RAM) would be “the computer for the rest of us”?
Clearly it is. And this now is with the Mac itself somewhat in the rear view mirror. We’re in the “i”-world now: of pads and pods and phones and tunes and life and movies and authoring and…are we getting too far down the road with Apple?
I am working on an Apple device. And I have been a fan since the amusing 128K Mac. But the bigger question is as follows:
What happens when a company succeeds too well?
When does it become unhealthy to rely heavily upon an all-powerful company’s offering? We are heading into a digital realm dominated by the likes of the bitten pomme of Cupertino, the book that owns your face, the link that gets you in, the bird that peeps to your followers, the “don’t be evil” search engine, the giant river of books and everything else that ships in a box and unavoidably, Big Oil. Big Oil because we run all of our green devices on the burning energy of black crude.
Much of this reliance is masked by the immeasurable bounty provided by continuing no-cost usage of the Internet Protocol and open-source html. But some will say we have already reached a tipping point on the web: where its best days are behind it; where kids want apps, not urls. Where convenience is the reward for captivity. Where you cannot launch your product without approval from the app distributor.
Sunset for the www?
Even on the web, ostensibly an open-source environment, publishers are kicked around like hens in the barnyard by the likes of Mr. Bezos. And Facebook is a web site, lo and behold! But it does not save you from the same peril. You pour gallons of marketing smarts into the Fbook engine, never knowing when Fbook will Fyou, or simply get old and sludgy.
The wonder is that entropy has not played a role. In fact, we are heading towards tighter organization. Via digital analytics, better optimization of user experience; maximum yield-per-byte. From the open range to the gated community. For businesses, there are perhaps only whispers in the dark: about a lack of Service Level Agreement (Google Analytics); about one-dimensional marketing (if you agree that “social” is really just a single channel); about how customers want free content and never want to feel “sold”; about how you can’t figure how to get people to pay for stuff anymore.
I like to think of myself as a digital optimist. Even as we consolidate, we innovate. Moore’s Law is projected to last us another generation, and this is joyous news. As likely as the gated community is a paradigm for established commerce, the hinterlands are still out there. Riding in from nowhere will come the next digital roadshow and get ready to buy a ticket.
You won’t be able to rest on any laurels because they stopped giving those out an aeon ago. But you will be able to launch and optimize. You’ll need new tools and new techniques; the page view becomes the in-app purchase (as calculated by game-level)–I’ve written about game-measurement tools like Kontagent that track this stuff and it’s still kind of exotic. And as the web era channels us to the app-universe, we hope for competing platforms to keep things lively (I hear complaints from the Android crowd but the chart points earthward for Android of late), and notice that Draw Something came on awfully strong and Pinterest is explosive as a new social player.
Perhaps we are as bound to our OS as we are to octane. And I once heard the coal-fired PC showed promise but was too smoky.
For the true nonconformist, there’s always Linux. Anyone speak Ubuntu at this cafe?