The difference between Apple and Microsoft
I have been a Macintosh fanatic since the first time I saw one, my senior year of high school. My first day of college in August 1986, my parents were kind enough to buy me a Macintosh 512K enhanced from the Brown bookstore. That computer didn't even have a hard drive but it did get me through four years of college just fine. In addition to wordprocessing, thankfully it did have the computing power to play Tetris--ye olde original Russian version. We were convinced it was a Communist plot to stunt the intellectual growth of American college students, but we happily became addicts anyway.
This week two high-tech announcements continued to demonstrate why I have such admiration and consumer loyalty for Apple that has endured for 20 years.
On Monday Bill Gates came out with an announcement that was uninsipiring and (IMHO) vaguely Orwellian, telling us what he's planning to do to our homes. All I remember is that he wants us to have a 24-hour a day connected experience, which terrifies me, to be honest. I am distracted enough. I don't want my refrigerator talking to me or providing stock updates and the CNN crawl. Gates' message came across to me as "Here is what I want you to do, whether it is what you want or not."
Then on Tuesday Steve Jobs announced the new iPhone. I didn't hear Jobs' keynote speech, but I went to the Apple website to check out the new product, and I immediately dissolved into a puddle of consumer-geek desire. From a design standpont, this product speaks for itself. The website demonstrates the phone, photo, browsing, iPod music & video features. Bonus points for using a Jim-centric clip from The Office to illustrate the video iPod feature!
Now I am skeptical about the touch-screen keyboard on the iPhone, and I'd like to try it out in person, but there is no question that Apple has created an instantly revolutionary device. Apple bounded out of the gate showing me something I really want. They presented the iPhone in a way that feels like the connected experience is in my control, rather than something being imposed on me.
I have become a student of ideas. For fans of my new favorite book, Made to Stick, the contrast of the Apple announcement versus the Microsoft announcement provides an excellent example of a sticky annoucement versus an unsticky idea.