Steve Jobs is just making silver-painted Styrofoam police badges

The iPad has been out for a day now, so that should have been enough time for all the pundits and Apple-know-it-alls to gripe about what is missing from the iPad, what should have been done differently, etc, etc, etc. And they are all very wrong because Steve Jobs really doesn’t care what you think or want. I know that has also been said before but before you dismiss me as another me-too thinker, let me share a short story with you.

When I was a puppy, we used to play a lot of games like cops and robbers. My parents were good Catholics, so that meant there was a rather large litter of us, all pretty close in age. My dad didn’t make much money and my mom was a stay-at-home, always in the kitchen, don’t bother me kind of mom, so there wasn’t a lot of money for toys. We made a lot of necessary accessories like pistols and billy clubs out of tree branches and whatnots. (It was a long time ago; guns were ok toys back then, even pretend ones made out of twigs.)

When I was about nine or ten years old, we got a catalog in the mail that had a whole section of cop badges you could order. Suddenly, without question, our cops needed badges. I started making badges using the Styrofoam trays meat was packed in. Turns out, if you traced the outline of the badge from the catalog, cut it out and then traced the inside detail lightly with a dull pencil, it would make an embossed badge. Paint that with silver paint used for model cars, tape a safety pin on the back and you had yourself a slick looking police badge.

Then I got to thinking that if I thought this was a good idea, other people would to. I made a few more and sold them to other kids who played the cops in our games for I think $.25 or something like that. Nobody really needed the badges to play a cop in cops and robbers, but it sure made the game more fun. After a bit, nobody wanted to play a cop unless they had a badge.

But here’s the thing: I made the badges because I wanted to create a game where the police characters sported really cool badges. I didn’t much care if they had all the features that others wanted (like a multi-color seal or gold eagle and silver base) or even if they were necessary for the game. In my mind, a world that had cops without badges was just not going to be a world I wanted to be in, pretend cops or not. If other kids thought it was a cool idea and wanted to buy a badge, that was ok, but it wasn’t necessary for me to have a market for silver-painted styrofoam badges for me to make the badges.*

And that ultimately is how I think Steve Jobs sees his world. He created the Apple computer because he wanted a world where small, personal computer existed. He created the iPod because he wanted a small, portable music device that worked in a non-technical way. Same kind of thing for the iPhone and iPad. The fact that lots of other people want these kinds of things too is incidental.

Steve Jobs is just making silver-painted Styrofoam police badges.

*The product line branched out to cop hats (made out of blue construction paper, kinda cool really) and belts before I grew up, discovered girls and that was that.

Why do we keep eating?

Why do we eat? The simple answer would be that if we did not eat, we would die. But that is not entirely true. Science can provide us with a pill we can take that would provide exactly the nutrition we need — no more, no less — to keep our bodies healthy. Yet, we resist the notion that a pill, taken three time a day, would replace daily meals.

….

Zune couldn’t play Auld Lang Syne at midnight

Zune
Zune
Apparently, a Microsoft Zune model couldn’t do the leap year calculation for 2008 and ending up freezing for it’s owners yesterday. In the WSJ, they reported that “… Zune owners flooded blogs and Internet chat sites to complain they couldn’t listen to music…”

What? How much of a flood could 12 people worldwide create?

All I know is that all three iPods and my iPhone were capable of playing Auld Lang Syne at exactly 12:00am on January 1, 2009. Even if I had to wait an extra second.

Another example of obtuse marketing

Really cool speakers I didn't buy.
Really cool speakers I didn't buy.
I was in a Sam’s Club this afternoon, cruised through the electronics and noticed this really cool speaker set by HMDX Audio. The speakers were rechargeable and wireless. Wow, really cool. Except it said it worked for iPod.

Well, did that mean iPhone 3G also? I don’t know, but I had an iPhone and they had a web site. I fired up Safari, plugged in the web address and was stopped faster than a snowball against a brick wall. The entire site was in Flash.

I left the store without buying the speaker set. Too bad, it was really cool looking and was my impulse purchase for the week.. perhaps the month.

If you sell Apple anything, do not make your Web site using Flash. Honestly, don’t you know we all have iPhones? Except one person in Ohio who maybe bought a Sprint Instinct instead.

We didn’t start the fire either

A couple weeks ago, Ryan Healy wrote a blog post about how Baby Boomers screwed up the world and how GenY is going to “fix” it. After turning it over in my 40+ brain a bit (Boomers like to think things through before yapping off; part of our charm) here are some observations about the article and the point of view GenY has of us.

The world we inherited was screwed up too
The country was scared of the Godless communists who were going to ravage the countryside, stealing our resources, forcing Americans to bend to the will of Stalin and Khrushchev. If you grew up Catholic, the world was even worse because you had the US Government scaring you as well as the Vatican. We had fall-out shelter drills, we were shown films of nuclear holocaust and crazy Khrushchev beating his shoe on the desk at the UN. It was scary.

And, it was REAL because a greater percentage of our parents fought in WWII and Korea. They saw evil up close and were determined not to let us see that much evil that close up. But, many of the Boomers did see evil in Vietnam that was more savage than WWI and revolted in the only way they knew how; protest and civil disobedience.

Most GenYers don’t have parents who did active duty in any war. Most GenYers did not know rationing or very high unemployment or home mortgages that were 20% or higher. While you may know high debt, the debt as a ratio of income and assets is about the same as the Boomers cause we didn’t have as much “stuff” (iPods, laptops, DVD collections…..)

Technology did not exist
I find it ironic that GenYers are complaining about the mess that Boomers left for them to clean up using WiFi networks, laptop computers and open source software that was carved out of nothing by a Boomer generation. Interesting.

To find out how Boomers used to learn, rent The Paper Chase. It’s ok. You can Google it and then rent it on NetFlix.com. We Boomers won’t care that much that you don’t have it on VHS.

I don’t want this post to spiral into a “we used to walk three miles uphill in the snow” article, but for GenY to say they are inheriting a mess they need to clean up to to admit to not having a sense of history and perspective. Most things that GenY complains about are consequences of the human condition, not a product of what Boomers did to them.

Boomers were crapped on just as badly back in the day. Just different crap.