Apple’s iPhone has yet to meet its Microsoft

Opinion – Apple’s App Store celebrates a year of existence and 1.5 billion
downloads from 65,000 applications. It is astonishing, and all of it
despite a less than developer friendly approach by the company, and
confusion and ambiguity in some of its approaches. Sounds like the same
old high-handed, arrogance of the company that gave us the Mac
revolution and so it fizzle against the onslaught of Windows. So, is
there a Microsoft to challenge them now, or has Apple got the playing
field all to itself?

For those of us who witnessed the bloodshed of the early days of the personal computer industry, the iPhone phenomenon seems unusual, to say the least. Here is a success story that is defining the mobile computing environment and in so doing, is making its competitors look old, weak and slow. Bearing in mind that those same competitors include the likes of Nokia, and RIM, not to mention some of the world’s most powerful carriers who are left without a convincing alternative to the iPhone, and you start to wonder why the challenges to Apple are so tame.

There was, once, a guy called Bill Gates, and he could be trusted to raise the ire of many, and to be a nemesis worthy of any opponent. Now, there is no single figure with anything approaching that level of strength or guile or ambition. Steve Ballmer, at Microsoft, seems more concerned with maintaining the status quo than he is with getting down and dirty with an opponent. Google has shown little inclination to appear aggressive, and although the company is dominant in search, it hasn’t done much anywhere else. And, it’s hard to imagine that any of the erstwhile competitors in the mobile world are going to be capable of dimming Apple’s lights. They are mature companies run by professional executives. Not buccaneers, or street fighters. They can’t mess Apple up.

Yes, it’s hard to imagine Bill Gates messing anyone up, but his aggression was palpable in the old days. These days no one seems to know what a jugular is, let alone have the ability to target it and tear it apart. Yes, I wish someone would go at Apple aggressively. Mess it up. It’s too clean, and too antiseptic. It represents the archtypal nightmore of science fiction: forging a society of drones who adhere to the party line, and all wear the same clothes, and work with the same minimalist gloss white technology. 

Maybe I am just mad about the fact that the iPhone is a really well designed, and well executed product. And just maybe, I am less than happy about having to bow at the altar of Apple in order to get at the product. Don’t even mention AT&T, a wireless provider that models the customer experience on four out of seven of the rings of hell.