Apple's Traditional Values

Brilliant piece from Nick Carr about Apple's hostility to the amateurism of Web 2.0 utopians. He's completely right. The genius of Apple lies in the company's commitment to the traditional corporate values of professional design, professional marketing, professional leadership, professional innovation and professional deal making -- not to mention selling their reassuringly expensive products to consumers. This is the most professional company in America. As Carr so persuavely argues, Jobs' Apple even make Microsoft look like a bunch of amateurs (read Dave Winer on Microsoft too. Agree completely on Gates' speech. Total non event -- like CES 2007 in general)

There's not an ounce of democracy at Apple. That's what makes it a paragon of such traditional corporate values as top down leadership, sharply hierachical organization and centralized control. It's Steve's company -- pursuing his vision, at his pace, with his team, making his products.

Fashionable Web 2.0 books such as The Starfish and the Spider (written by a "team" of nameless Stanford MBA'ers) argue that the most successful organizations are consensual, highly democratized, run from the edge rather than the center, blah blah blah. But, like the user-generated-content on YouTube or Wikipedia, this is complete nonsense. the Apple example singlehandedly demolishes the Web 2.0 argument. Without Steve Jobs' authoritarian leadership, Apple would be just another Silicon Valley outfit run by mind numbingly conventional Stanford MBAer's, jib-jabbering about interactivity and democratization, following the crowd rather than leading it. We'd have no iPod, no iTV, no iPhone, no iTunes.

The great man theory of corporate life is alive and well in Cupertino. Last week, when Jobs got entangled in an options scandal, Apple stock tanked. This week, the scandal is resolved and Jobs is once again stunning the world with brilliantly seductive new products. Apple stock went up 10% yesterday. It's Jobs' Apple, rather than Brin/Page/Schmidt's Google (which stumbled on its search engine quasi-monopoly and has nothing else of real value), who are the real miracle of Silicon Valley.

Without Jobs, Apple would be just another leaderless me-too technology company. He represents the highly undemocratic leader that once made America the engine of the world's economy. He's the Henry Luce or the Henry Ford of the digital age. Hail (or should I say, heil) Steve!