On my way to San Salvador last weekend I wrote a short article titled “The Changing Landscape of Innovation”. Without any internet connection until arriving back home the following Thursday, I planned on publishing it Friday morning; however, I didn’t count on Drafts losing the note to a botched sync operation. In lieu of that article, then, as I try to work with Greg Pierce to recover it, consider this:
When the iPhone first launched, one of its most notable aspects was the absence of any carrier branding: unlike other phones sporting Verizon or another network’s logo, Apple had stuck to their guns and shipped a phone free of all marketing material save one: the hallmark of technological craftsmanship, an apple. Fast-forward a few years and most high-end phones have followed suit: by and large, the majority of the top smartphones are free of carrier branding in favor of the parent company’s name or logo. What started out as an anomaly has become the norm. Although today the significance of this precedent has been all but lost to time, it cannot be understated; the launch of the iPhone marked the first time the liberal arts triumphed over corporate ambition — in the smartphone market, anyway.
A few days ago, Apple announced CarPlay; unsurprisingly, it debuted in some of the world’s most prestigious vehicles. Nevertheless, in the face of this exclusivity, Apple retained its hallmark brand integrity by completely removing the option for any manufacturer to make any interface tweaks to Apple’s newest software offering. In fact, it had the opposite effect: whereas phones were once emblazoned with the carrier’s logo, and by that same reasoning we might have reasonably expected a similar customization in CarPlay, Apple bucked this trend once again in forcing the most exclusive car manufacturers in the world to add a button to their consoles. I say “Apple bucked this trend once again”, but in reality it was Tim Cook: he did not delegate a deal of this magnitude to a peon, and so therefore we can wholly attribute this continuation of a long-held Apple value — to explicitly state it once again, the refusal to lower its brand value by adding another’s alongside it — to none other than Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook.
It’s time to stop spouting “what would Steve Jobs do?” and its innumerable permutations and derivations with the same religious fervor that drives Christians to wear wristbands questioning “WWJD?” Steve Jobs has passed, and in his time he did incredible things; however, the Tim Cook era has begun, and so far we’re off to one hell of a start.