Steve Jobs has Millions of Spurned Lovers

Against my better judgment, I read the comments on an Apple-related post on Slashdot. The expected levels of stupidity were indeed still present. This time with a sprinkling of entitlement and warped views of the world. One comment stood out in particular: the sentiment that Jobs “sold [customers] out to publishers.”

Like a spurned lover, user “Shivetya” illiterately bemoans:

Only question I want to know the anwser too is, why did you sell us out to the publishers Steve?

As I posted elsewhere on this subject, we have gone from being the customer to being the goose. Steve is now clearly on the side of content providers. Apple/Steve is the reason why people like Murdoch will be able to charge $14.99 per e-book. Gone are the days where he stood up and proclaimed “this is the line in the sand”

Should have realized it with 1.29 music but people laughed it off… well Steve is laughing now with his new friends. The iPad is tailored made for the publishing industries, be it music, book, or video, just not for us

Well, Shivetya, I’m here for you. Like a good friend, I’ll listen to your sobbing, offer you a box of soothing-lotion-soaked Kleenex, then provide some perspective. Let’s analyze your claims:

[W]e have gone from being the customer to being the goose.

You seem to be implying that, to a company, customers aren’t already “geese”. You see, Shivetya, the world in which we live is a harsh place. We each must work to make a living one way or another. Over the eons, humanity has discovered that there is strength in numbers. So commerce has evolved the concept of a “company.” At its most basic, however, companies seek to turn a profit for their goods and services just as an individual would. Whether a company or an individual practices good business ethics is a separate question, but of course the customer is the goose.

It’s unrealistic to think you’re ever not a goose to a company – even when the company treats you very well and gives you a great deal, they still seek to make a profit from you. That’s how this works. Don’t you view even your own employer the same way? You may like the job, but you’re sure as hell not working there 8 hours a day strictly for their benefit, are you?

Steve is now clearly on the side of content providers.

Well, no. Steve is “clearly” on the side of his company: Apple. Steve is “clearly” passionate about the products his company puts out, that they are user-oriented and so simple even older generations want to (and can) use them. Frankly, you’d be foolish and misinformed to argue otherwise. My point is Steve has a vision about his products. It’s a relatively simple one, too. In addition to web surfing, e-mail, and communication in general, he’s very firmly marching toward a constellation of intuitive media consumption devices, each tuned to specific segments of the market. All of them need one thing in common, however: mutually-beneficial deals with content providers, who are also “clearly” on their own respective sides. That brings me to your next point.

Apple/Steve is the reason why people like Murdoch will be able to charge $14.99 per e-book.

Here we come to one of the most delusional, self-entitled sentiments of our day. What, I ask you, would you pay for a good novel, technical reference, text book, or autobiography? Do you believe they should be priced according to their delivery mechanism (bits versus tree pulp) or by their actual substance?

You see, Shivetya, writing a good book is hard. A typical 500-page novel seems to take the average author a year before it’s ready for submission. Some novels take years (the good ones do in my opinion anyway). Technical references are about the same. Text books have added difficulty: they must be thoroughly researched, cross-referenced, and in many cases heavily reviewed, before being accepted by the education community as a standard around which their respective syllabi are formed.

Put plainly: Books are hard to write.

If you feel you’re entitled to a $0.99 text book simply because there’s no physical book, I’m afraid there’s no way we can have intelligent discourse. As someone who produces intellectual works, you may think me biased. In truth, I am biased because I know how difficult intellectual works are to produce.

Let’s look at this from the other side. My side. I’m frankly offended at Apple’s “suggestion” that a well-built application for the iPhone platform should be valued at $0.99. Apple is most certainly not on my side – the side of an independent software developer. They’re on their own side. One could argue, they’re bending independent developers over a table and having their wicked, wicked way with them, while whispering dirty, degrading things into their ears. But hey, the customers are getting great software applications a dollar!

How is this different from a $0.99 (or $1.29) song? Musicians do not generally spend a year or more on a single song. That scale is usually applied to an album, which unless I’m mistaken, averages out to a little more than the $14.99 e-book you’re complaining about. Consider the song a chapter in a book, or a kick-ass feature in a good, solid software application (iPhone or otherwise).

Frankly, I find this extreme devaluation of my work (and the work of independent developers, book authors, and that of artisans in many fields) downright offensive. I don’t work for free, nor can I. I have bills to pay and the things I wrote (built, created) took months and months of hard work. I’m sure I speak for the majority of independent developers when I say “fuck you very much” for placing such a cheap-ass sticker on my polished craftsmanship.

Should have realized it with 1.29 music but people laughed it off… well Steve is laughing now with his new friends.

You seem to be implying that a price hike is the result of some evil plot to force you to buy Apple products and content from various publishers. I’m not even sure where to begin with this one, so I’ll be brief:

  1. There are other consumer electronic devices available. Buy any one you wish (or don’t). It’s your freedom to choose to participate or to abstain.
  2. The content to which you’re referring is available in any number of alternative ways.
  3. The only reasons Jobs was able to dictate such low prices were the facts that he had the only feasible, attractive online marketplace for such content, and the inherent nature of individual songs on an album (they can be sold individually and the customers wanted it that way).
  4. There are now alternative services through which you can get music content.
  5. Competition works both ways: other services are competing with Apple by offering publishers higher prices (more profit), which forces Apple to remain competitive to both the customers and the publishers.
  6. Apple is not obligated to be your defender against prices in markets to which its services only provide a delivery and advertising mechanism in a crowd of similar services.

The iPad is tailored made for the publishing industries, be it music, book, or video, just not for us[.]

This assertion makes little sense if any.

The iPad (and any other content consumption device) must essentially provide content delivery and “shopping” mechanisms specific to the type of content, yes. That’s the entire point of its goal as a “content consumption device.” Without this, it’s a complete dud.

Whether or not the iPad is “for us” remains to be seen. I like my iPhone for my on-the-go computing needs because it’s small and mobile and serves its purpose as a hand-held location-aware communications device. I’ve said several times over the last week, as I sat on the couch, “I wish I had an iPad now” because even my laptop is sometimes too much for casual browsing or e-mail checking from the couch and the iPhone’s form factor is too small to read or watch video comfortably. It definitely has its place.

Whether the broad consumer base at large agrees or not remains to be seen. As I said, the market tends to balance out.

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