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Should I date Steve Jobs or Eric Schmidt?

Posted by andreaitis on June 9, 2010

Steve Jobs VS Eric Schmidt

Image by Dakiny via Flickr

This is what it’s come down to:

1. The open web is only as open as its benevolent dictators allow it to be.

2.  We are all Sophie and we must make a choice.

3. Poor AOL (er, I mean Aol.) can’t catch a break.  Had a wall when walls were decidedly un-cool.  Tore it down and a few years later walls are all the rage again courtesy of digital overlords  Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg.

As Michael Hirschorn confirms in his latest piece in The Atlantic, the open web is, in fact, an illusion; closed is the harsh reality.

The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995. In the U.S., there are only three major cell-phone networks, a handful of smart-phone makers, and just one Apple, a company that has spent the entire Internet era fighting the idea of open (as anyone who has tried to move legally purchased digital downloads among devices can attest). As far back as the ’80s, when Apple launched the desktop-publishing revolution, the company has always made the case that the bourgeois comforts of an artfully constructed end-to-end solution, despite its limits, were superior to the freedom and danger of the digital badlands.

via Closing the Digital Frontier – The Atlantic

Look, I don’t think the browser is going away any time soon, but someone always has the power in a relationship.  When it comes to technology, media and communication,  it’s not us.  I repeat: We are not running this show.

Which CEO got people to camp out overnight to buy a product sight unseen?  Apple CEO  Steve Jobs.

Which CEO runs a company that was “inadvertently collecting data about people’s online activities from unsecured Wi-Fi networks” over the past four (FOUR!) years?  Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

It’s all coming down to a choice between Apple and Google.  They are already far along the path to dominate our every interaction with media and information.   Sure, Mark Zuckerberg has the big murky moat around Facebook Island, but it’s contained.  We can choose to live with or without Facebook.  With Apple and Google, that choice is not as clear-cut.

Apple and Google both have mobile operating systems — Apple’s iPhone OS 4 vs Google’s Android.  They both develop, build and distribute devices for their own platforms.   They’re both in the advertising business — Apple’s iAd vs Google’s AdMob, to start.    They’re both also in the app-etizing business:

Like Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes App Store and Google’s (GOOG) own Android Market, the Chrome Web Store will showcase free and paid videogames, magazines, productivity apps and the like. As Web applications, they’ll run on most modern browsers. But if you happen to be running Chrome, you can “install” the apps directly in the browser so that they can be accessed via a sort of “super-bookmark.”

via Google’s App Store for the Web – All Things Digital

All this before we even get to TV.   If video killed the radio star, then Apple and Google are going to kill video.  Pay attention, because television as we know it is dead.  The concept of a television set is history;  it’s now just another (bigger) screen in your house.  Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt understand that one of our most important relationships is with the screen — small, medium or large, mobile or docked.  This is the relationship they want to control.  They want to be by our side every time we touch a screen:  anytime, anywhere, any way.

This is why I say it’s pretty clear Apple and Google are courting me.  Obviously they each want to build a future with me.  They’ve both managed to create an experience that strategically leaves me unfulfilled with a simple  flirtation.   Oh, I can have a casual encounter with Apple or Google products and see all the possibilities and potential but I have to actually commit to really get what I need.  They want me to commit, to share my personal information so they can lock me in, take me off the market.   It’s not even dating, really, more like a common-law marriage because once I choose between Apple and Google, that’s it.  I’m in it for the long haul.  Who wants to go through that break-up drama, trying to save and export data,  having to go back into that confusing scene to try to find a better match and then having to start all over again with the settings and preferences and the getting-to-know-you routine.

Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt are the controlling forces here, they are establishing how these relationships work and how they and their respective companies will benefit from consumer acquiescence.   Factor in their personal rivalry, and the stakes are high.  Think about how often you interact with a screen each day.  Google and Apple are truly our significant others.

I know I can juggle them for only so long, but I am not yet sure who will win my affections.  Apple focuses on fewer things but pays attention to every detail.  Google is more experimental but typically skips the finishing touches, the last 20% that puts some polish on rough edges.  With Apple, you’re in for elegance, style and whimsy.   With Google, you’ll have wide-ranging experiences but have to carry your own bags and at some point end up sleeping in one of those Google Street View cars.

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

And where does Mark Zuckerberg fit into all this?

Seriously, we’re just gonna be friends.

Facebook is the BFF for more than 400 million people around the world.   Zuck’s got his hooks in us and he’s got our data, but he’s platform agnostic so he can play the field with both Google and Apple.

In the end, that may make him the best catch of all.

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Gray Powell, Steve Jobs and the silver lining in Apple's lost iPhone fiasco

Posted by andreaitis on April 19, 2010

You are about to forever know the name Gray Powell.

Gizmodo posted this story Monday morning:

This Is Apple's Next  iPhone
You are looking at Apple’s next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It’s the real thing, and here are all the details.
via Gizmodo

They published all those details — and pictures — while shockwaves rocked the interwebs richter scale.  Gizmodo’s Jason Chen and Jesus Diaz reported what’s new: “Front-facing video chat camera.”  They documented what’s changed: “The back is entirely flat, made of either glass (more likely) or ceramic or shiny plastic in order for the cell signal to poke through.”  They solidified their place in Apple history and Steve Jobs’ long-term memory.   The story received 6,485 diggs, and was  retwittered 27, 096 times.  Colossal.

It was followed by another story: How Apple lost the Next iPhone.  And, more specifically, who lost the next iPhone.  Enter Gray Powell.

The 27-year-old Powell—a North Carolina State University 2006 graduate and talented amateur photographer—is an Apple Software Engineer working on the iPhone Baseband Software, the little program that enables the iPhone to make calls.

On the night of March 18, he was enjoying the fine imported ales at Gourmet Haus Staudt, a nice German beer garden in Redwood City, California. He was happy. The place was great. The beer was excellent. “I underestimated how good German beer is,” he typed into the next-generation iPhone he was testing on the field, cleverly disguised as an iPhone 3GS. It was his last Facebook update from the secret iPhone. It was the last time he ever saw the iPhone, right before he abandoned it on bar stool, leaving to go home.
via Gizmodo

Steve Jobs was already having a tough week.  Self-proclaimed nerd Paul Shadwell was frustrated by a  delay in the iPad’s international release.  He sent an email to Steve Jobs expressing his concern and overall Apple anxiety.  Not only did Steve Jobs respond to the email, he got right to the point.

“deliberately pulling the wool over the rest of the worlds eyes”

Are you nuts? We are doing the best we can. We need enough units to have a responsible and great launch.

via A Letter to Steve Jobs

On top of that there’s a Steve Jobs backlash brewing over Apple’s walled garden and rigid guidelines for developers.  Plus,  the Off-Broadway show Notes Toward the Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs premieres on April 22 for a one-night-only run.  So, really, did Steve Jobs need this lost-and-found-and-bought-by-Gizmodo-for-$5-to-$10K iPhone drama?  Hardly.

Still, as the sun sets on this day in iPhone history, there is a silver lining.  It comes to us not through Apple but a different kind of next-gen tech:  Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.  You see, Gray Powell now has a Facebook Fan Page. On it he says:  “Hi, my name’s Gray and I work for Apple.  I also like beer.”    Under Phone he doesn’t list his number.  Nope, our Gray enters:  “Lost it.  😦 ”

Turns out Gray Powell is one  unlucky but funny and likable guy.  We all wondered, will Gray would be reprimanded or even fired?  Will Steve call him directly, yell at him, tell him how disappointed he is in his beer-goggled goof?   Will he survive this horrid embarrassment or will he shatter like an iPhone screen when you accidentally drop it on the cold, hard, unforgiving sidewalk of life?

Seems Gray Powell bounces.  And  instead of ruining Steve Jobs’ week he may have saved it.   I don’t know how the Facebook Page came to be, if it was created by Gray or (god forbid) a brilliant Apple marketing move.  Either way, a PR disaster is now a quirky and personable mistake.  Through Gray Powell Apple can be human, Steve Jobs can be kind and forgiving.   It wasn’t so long ago the interwebs was on high-alert,  in single-minded support as Steve Jobs battled cancer.   But public opinion is like that volcano over in Iceland.  Once it starts spewing, it takes a while for the ash cloud to lift.   What lesson do we learn?  Things happen. Sometimes people across the country wait in line all night long to be the first to buy a brand new sight-unseen device.  And, once in a while, a next-gen iPhone gets left on a bar stool after too many beers.  There but for the grace of Jobs…

You go, Gray.

Gray "iPhone Loser" Powell

Update:  Sadly, it’s beginning to look like the Facebook page is actually a poorly executed stunt.

This is Gray’s new status update:

Sounds like a marketing person trying to sound like a guy who drinks German beer and builds iPhones.   Meanwhile, I posted a question directly on the Facebook page:  “hey gray – did you create this page on your own or is it an apple marketing effort?”

No answer.

Ah, Gray, you’re in a tough spot.    Did you happen to build an app for that?

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