Continuing my foolishness on Maps and Steve

Harry Marks makes good claim chowder dissecting a year old article which boiled down to “If Apple doesn’t become like its competitors, it’s doomed.” I guess there’s a real art to writing it in such a way that lots will read and not ask the obvious: “Are you high? (If so, please tell me on what so I can avoid it.)”

The obvious point is that leaders fail when they stop acting like leaders.

But a lot of people don’t get Apple, have never gotten Apple, and just ascribe its success to “marketing.”  It’s not too hard a sell–tech people think marketing is evil voodoo; marketing people like being ascribed that kind of power.

Back to Maps and Steve.

Harry (who clearly does get Apple) listed plenty of Steve Jobs-released products that were not exactly successful. But as I read that Consumer Reports likes iOS 6 maps and Philip Elmer-DeWitt goes gaga over 3D I think we’re looking at the wrong set of Steve Jobs released products.

How about this one: Mac OS X.

In its first iterations, OS X wasn’t completely ready for prime-time either. Critics had long called for Apple to make distinctive hardware and maybe add a UI skin to a serious OS, like Windows NT. (Just like today they call for Apple to remain chained to Google.) But Steve Jobs dragged us, kicking and screaming, into the future.

Every subsequent Apple success has had OS X at the root of its technology stack. (Including the iPod which entered life as a Mac peripheral.)

And yes, if you’re Apple and mobile is most of your business, mapping is pretty damned important as well.

There’s another parallel too. An OS can only go so far in a lab… it can only reach maturity with wide usage by developers and users.

Now a more reasonable leader might have released iOS 6 Maps as just an option, letting early adopters use it while others could fall back on the previous product.

That same leader would certainly have included a floppy drive on the iMac.


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