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Chris Breisch   .NET Data Practices
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You may have read here or on Scoble, that someone from Apple has started blogging, albeit anonymously.  I applaud him, and I hope he's successful in bringing blogging to Apple, but I doubt he will be.

Let me be frank; I don't own any Apple products.  Ok, two.  I bought my wife an iPod Mini about a year and a half ago.  Oh, and I play around occasionally with a fully licensed copy of MacOS X using PearPC.  That's it.  That's the extent to which Apple has invaded my life.

There are a number of reasons for this, and generally don't have anything to do with whether or not Apple makes a quality product.  They do.  Everything I have seen from Apple for the last several years is first rate.  And, unlike a popular search engine company who's motto is "Don't Be Evil", I don't question their business or moral ethics.

But they treat their company like a well-guarded fortress.  Nothing goes in or out without the executive and marketing seal of approval.  We've all seen the endless (and usually wrong) speculation about what will be announced at their periodic "media events".

This devotion to protection of intellectual property extends down to the very core of their products.  It's still the case that if I want to run Mac OS, and I don't want a severely hacked up system, I have to buy a Mac.  This despite their UNIX origins. (I thought UNIX could run on anything? :))  I can now run Windows on a Mac.  Why can't I run Mac OS on my Dell Latitude?  Why can't I run Mac OS on my generic home-built PC?  Until I can do that, I probably won't become one of the "converted".

The reason for this isn't profitability.  Certainly with their reputation for producing quality products, and their diverse income streams now, Apple should be able to make a living on the OS market without having to depend on their hardware.

No, the issue with their Mac hardware is the same as the issue with their hush-hush marketing events, and it's the same reason "The Masked Blogger" will have a difficult time succeeding.

The issue is control.  For Steven Jobs et al. it has always been about control.  Apple isn't interested in being part of something unless they have complete control over it.  They control what information is disseminated, when and by whom.  They won't do the necessary work to allow MacOS to run on a Dell Latitude because they'd have to give up control of the hardware specs.  Apple feels that this control enables their customers to have a better user experience and that it keeps them one jump ahead of their competition.

That may be true, but it costs them each and every day.  It costs them when their employees are afraid to blog, and their developers are unable to work hand-in-hand with their customers.  It costs them in transparency and costs them in building up relationships with other companies and end-users. 

Microsoft has already made this same mistake and learned from it.  They used to be opaque, and now they're very transparent.  All it takes is a casual perusal of some of the top MS bloggers (and their are hundreds) and you get a good idea of what's going on in MS, what they're thinking about, what their goals are, etc.  And the beauty of blogs is it that it is a conversation.  If Tom Hollander posts about the upcoming plans for the Enterprise Library, I can tell him what I think of those plans on his blog or on mine.  So, via the blog interaction, the MS people can be more transparent, but also, and more importantly, listen to the customer.

I don't think Apple sees the benefits of blogging, particularly the benefit of brining information in.  I'm not sure if their corporate culture allows them to.

Good luck Masked Blogger, whoever you are.  You're going to need it. 

(Oh, I realize I use one other Apple product, iTunes)

Posted on Friday, October 13, 2006 9:16 AM General | Back to top


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