He wrote the column, he says,
to point out that even Apple can bungle a product from time to time. Another thing I probably should have said in the column was that in a broader sense, flubbing is actually a good thing, because it shows that Apple is genuinely trying to raise the state of the art of consumer electronics. As the old Silicon Valley saying goes: “If you don’t launch a dud now and then, it means you aren’t trying hard enough.” Finally, I also wanted to show how even Apple can sometimes make the same kinds of mistakes that Microsoft does.
Mainly, however, with the launch of the much ballyhooed iPhone looming in June, I thought it was important to point out how Apple TV demonstrates that Steve Jobs, the ultimate control freak, is not in total control of all the production values of his new consumer electronics products; at least not as much as has been the case in the past with his computers and the first few generations of the iPod and iTunes. That’s not his fault, but instead is because Apple, as it ventures further afield, no longer “builds the whole widget” to the extent that it has in the past. It must rely on capricious movie studios and TV networks and record companies for content of course, and it increasingly will depend on stubborn telecom carriers for cellular and broadband connectivity and for marketing help.
Steve Jobs loves music, and the much celebrated iPod clearly was not the product of someone with a tin ear. “Elegant” really is the appropriate adjective to use to describe it, because every little nuance seemed right. But Apple TV makes you wonder if Jobs paid any attention at all during the birthing process. Or maybe it betrays how his well-known disdain for broadcast television might have left him with a blind spot when it comes to TV-related products. Or perhaps this is just what happens to a company when it develops the makings of a high-tech monopoly that it wants to preserve and extend, in this case the market for digital downloads. Speaking as a long-time Apple fan, I sure hope not.