And we won’t be your babies anymore
We wonâ€™t be your babies anymore
We wonâ€™t be your babies
â€™Til you take us home.
LCD Soundsystem – â€œYou Wanted a Hitâ€
The original iPhone was released June of 2007 and changed the very idea of what a mobile phone was. It was a â€œblockbusterâ€
The original iPad was released April of 2010, nearly three years later, and changed the very idea of what a mobile computer was. It was a â€œblockbusterâ€.
Now Apple has to â€” as in, MUST â€” come up with something equally revolutionary in less time in order to stay â€œrelevantâ€?
Patrick Rhone – â€œChinks in the Armorâ€
Who are you beholden to?
I quote Patrick Rhone, because Apple isnâ€™t really going to speak for itself in this case. Iâ€™m sure I could find a relevant quote from Steve Jobs, or Tim Cook about Appleâ€™s product philosophy, but Iâ€™d rather quote James Murphy. â€œYou Wanted a Hitâ€ is a song about how James Murphy as LCD Soundsystem doesnâ€™t feel the need to make music for the sole purpose of being succesful as a pop musician. Certainly, heâ€™s not going to deny success, but heâ€™d rather make what he wants to make. Otherwise, â€œit ends up feeling kind of wrong.â€ This is the advantage of being an independent artist, with independent distribution, and being beholden to nobody except yourself.
Apple may be beholden to its shareholders, but it doesnâ€™t act that way. Thatâ€™s why they can spend their time making products designed with cutting edge manufacturing technologies. Thatâ€™s why they can get away with charging hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for â€œcommodityâ€ products. Thatâ€™s why they can iterate and improve on the same small, core stable of products year over year, rather than throw out products of every imaginable size, shape, color, feature set, and price point. Apple is not their shareholdersâ€™s baby. Their customers may get to take the products home, but Apple isnâ€™t its customersâ€™s baby either. Apple is beholden to Apple, and Apple alone.
This is different from any other publicly traded company out there, and certainly different from any other company in Appleâ€™s field. This totally fucks with the heads of people whose job it is to understand how companies work, so that they know where to put their moneyâ€”or more likely, other peopleâ€™s money. These people need patterns, regularity, a systematic approach, and something that doesnâ€™t require extra work on their behalf. It makes their job easier to know that every company works the same way.
Apple doesnâ€™t care about making other peopleâ€™s jobs easier.  Apple doesnâ€™t care about making its own job easier. Apple cares about making great stuff. And it works.
The other problem is that hits are transient. Back to music: how many one-hit wonders are there? This is Wikipediaâ€™s list of one-hit wonders from 2000 to 2009 alone. They have lists for every decade since the 1950s. Some of these artists went on to have long, succesful careers, but never hit the heights of their lone hit. Others burned out, or faded away. Remember the PalmPilot and the Treo? Look where Palmâ€™s at now.
When the pressure is constantly on you to make a â€œhit,â€ it affects the quality of the work. You question everything. You file down the sharp edges.  When you try to make something that appeals to everyone, you run the risk of making something so beige and indistinct that nobody either wants or cares about it. The pasts of music and technology are both littered with these failures—products that tried to be something for everybody, rather than everything for somebody.
So, yeah, Apple doesnâ€™t â€œdo hits.â€ It just so happens that some of the things they do become hits, but thatâ€™s never the aim. As long as the money keeps rolling in, theyâ€™re on the right track, no matter what some Wall Street analyst says—much like a record company executive.