SEARCH BLOG: TECHNOLOGY.
From The Wall Street Journal:
Apple hit the new milestone—$623.52 billion—at a time when its influence on the economy, on the stock market and on popular culture rivals that of some of the most powerful companies in U.S. history: General Motors Co., whose Corvette and Impala typified a confident postwar manufacturing giant; Microsoft, whose technology heralded the arrival of the personal computer and the early Internet age; and International Business Machines Corp., whose buttoned-down rigor inspired rivals to reach for greatness.That's an awful lot of iPhones and iPads and Macbooks. But it tells us something about how the U.S. has changed in the past few decades.
50-years ago, people bought cars for more than transportation. Cars were a statement about personal wealth and conferred status commensurate with the cost of the vehicle. Cars were customized and coddled. Sure, some of that goes on today... mostly with pickup trucks and small cars that make buzzing sounds... but most cars are now purely functional and functional is not sexy or demanding of a premium price.
30-years ago personal computers were new and made a statement about personal wealth and conferred status commensurate with the cost of the computer. Microsoft and IBM were computers... except for those odd Apple computers that the oddballs bought. If you were in business, you wanted IBM and Microsoft and you wanted them big and loaded so that everyone could be in awe of your computing prowess. Sure, some of that goes on today, but computers are now purely functional and function is not sexy or demanding of a premium price.
A few years ago, "smart phones" began to appear. There were a few who grasped the significance of this technology... the world at your fingertips anytime and anyplace. There were many manufacturers who made them functional and a great convenience, but being purely functional was not sexy or demanding a premium price over every other smart phone.
But Apple had a different vision of this so-called smart phone. It would be whatever you wanted it to be. If you wanted it to be a game board, it became one. If you wanted it to be a GPS unit, presto it was. If you wanted it to be any of thousands of things, Apple made it possible... by letting others do the work creating "apps" and make a little money and make the iPhone an unbeatable, sexy product by becoming thousands of products in one that, presto, demanded a premium price. And then they made it bigger and took away the phone feature and called it an iPad and, presto, they had a sexy new "tablet" that demanded a premium price. And sexy sells a lot of phones and tablets... it makes statements and that makes a lot of money.
In 20 years will Apple be the next General Motors or IBM? Hey, those corporations are still big, but not so sexy. They are functional. Maybe that's just the way of the world. We've gone from cars, to large computers, to small, powerful iEverythings. We've downsized our world to the palms of our hands. Maybe the next big thing is the removal of the real world to be replaced by a virtual world where we are not limited to things that can hold us or that we can hold. Maybe the next Apple is integrated with us, but makes everything sexy and lets anything be a statement that only we can perceive... and that will be the only thing we care about. Our own personal Matrix?
Everything else will be purely functional... and functional just isn't sexy or demanding a premium price.