Some thoughts about yesterday's Apple announcements.
First a message to the Apple fanboys, who obviously crave attention. The reason we criticize your beloved Apple is to learn and to share ideas. I love to go back and read things I wrote about previous product intros from Apple and others, especially when I was wrong, to learn about my intuition and judgement. I get better at this each time, and make better product decisions of my own. And if you don't like it, write your own blog post!
The Apple Watch was basically paying a debt, and it's not a product Steve Jobs would have shipped. The debt is that the new Apple management has to show investors that they can ship something new. It probably indicates that they don't have anything better in the pipe, and that's fine. It could be at this point in history there aren't any new devices that make sense. I find myself with a glut of devices, my desk drawer is full of them. That expresses my wish that there's something new I can buy that'll be as interesting as the first smart phones (and Apple's wasn't my first, or even the most exciting, though it is what I use now).
If Apple wanted to ship a product that is as incredibly potent as the iPod was, they should disrupt something that doesn't want to be disrupted, but desperately needs it. If Apple had a device that could create journalism that was exciting, individualistic, intelligent, thought-provoking, to compete with the dead-eyes stuff that passes for journalism, then they'd have an iPod-like product that said to the music industry, which was in a similar place in 2001, to get the fuck out of the way. Apple said each song costs $0.99. No more albums. We are your distribution, and by the way fuck off. A few years later all the record stores were gone and the power in music had shifted from Hollywood to Cupertino.
That isn't really something a company can do -- it's something Steve Jobs could do, because the man had chutzpah, and he was hugely smart, and had a sense that life was too short to waste trying to make idiots happy.
The way we pay for stuff today is as archaic as the way we bought music before Napster and the iPod. A few years ago, it was clear that all the big tech companies were going to become banks. What else could they possibly do with the piles of cash they were accumulating? They're going to lend it to us, and we're going to pay them interest. Over time, the fact that they make hardware or support customers, or have retail stores, will be interesting anachronistic sidelines. Apple, Amazon and Google investors will judge their companies on how well they work as financial institutions. It's something investors understand, and the money you make in finance comes without the headaches of having to actually make anything.
Apple has hundreds of millions of credit card numbers, and they'll be useful until they completely replace the banks. Apple is bigger than any of them, and has bank-sized financial resources. And the way we pay for stuff today with little plastic cards, some with chips on them, is backwards. The chips in our phones are much more capable. And putting them on our wrist in a big form factor isn't interesting. They will be embedded in our keychain next, and then in our actual bodies. It won't be much longer before we are at least part computer.
Anyway, Apple will be a much better bank than BofA, Citibank or Chase. Consumers will have more rights from Apple than we were given by the bankers and their Washington cronies. Apple still is a fucked up mega-corporation, but they don't have any reason not to treat us a little better than the guys they're replacing. It'll make for the feel-good Christmas commercial, this year and every year from now on.
Yeah, no surprise. They're iPhones. We know exactly what they are.