This morning’s Observer column.
When Steve Jobs was still with us, many commentators – yours truly included – used to complain about the “reality distortion field” that surrounded Apple’s charismatic leader. Those in attendance when Jobs launched the devices and services (iPod, iTunes, OS X, iMac, MacBook, iPhone and iPad) that blew such huge holes in the business models of established industries told of events that were more like religious revival meetings than corporate press conferences. As Apple’s dominance grew, the man who led it came to be seen as a unique combination of visionary, guru, saint and mogul.
But then mortality intervened and His Steveness passed away. The reality distortion field persisted, however, though now in reverse. It led people to conclude that the death of the magician would inevitably lead to the end of the magic that made Apple the most valuable company in the world. In comparison to Jobs his successor, Tim Cook, was seen as charismatically challenged. And while we could expect Apple to thrive for a little longer, it was only because Cook would be unveiling innovations that were in the works when Jobs was alive. After that, the well would surely run dry.
It was against this background that the hapless Cook unveiled the new iPhones on 10 September…