Apple: Be evil?

Here’s a riveting read from Wired magazine, “How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong”, analysing the factors behind Apple’s success. Wired argues that despite Apple’s sexy image, it flouts the ideals that represent many of the new, progressive and forward thinking tech companies of today. These values include embracing open platforms and encouraging interoperability, cultures of openess and transparency, and treating your employees “like Gods” . The thing is, consumers don’t really seem to care.

Controversially, the article shows that even Microsoft — generally portrayed as a staid, uncreative tech company of the old school — is in many respects a more progressive company than Apple these days, adopting many of these values.

Here’s a good excerpt which I think sums it up:

…Everybody is familiar with Google’s famous catchphrase, “Don’t be evil.” It has become a shorthand mission statement for Silicon Valley, encompassing a variety of ideals that — proponents say — are good for business and good for the world: Embrace open platforms. Trust decisions to the wisdom of crowds. Treat your employees like gods.

It’s ironic, then, that one of the Valley’s most successful companies ignored all of these tenets. Google and Apple may have a friendly relationship — Google CEO Eric Schmidt sits on Apple’s board, after all — but by Google’s definition, Apple is irredeemably evil, behaving more like an old-fashioned industrial titan than a different-thinking business of the future. Apple operates with a level of secrecy that makes Thomas Pynchon look like Paris Hilton. It locks consumers into a proprietary ecosystem. And as for treating employees like gods? Yeah, Apple doesn’t do that either. But by deliberately flouting the Google mantra, Apple has thrived…

…and now observers, academics, and even some other companies are taking notes. Because while Apple’s tactics may seem like Industrial Revolution relics, they’ve helped the company position itself ahead of its competitors and at the forefront of the tech industry. Sometimes, evil works…

Agree or disagree?

Comments (3)

  1. Chris M wrote::

    Great article, nothing like enjoying your first read on a Monday morning!

    Monday, April 14, 2008 at 9:42 am #
  2. matt wrote::

    @ Chris M — I thought so too 🙂

    Monday, April 14, 2008 at 6:13 pm #
  3. I tend to agree with the article… amazing to see how these perceptions are managed and a flashy trendy design makes all go oooohhh aaahhh….

    All logic is lost when you show something shiny

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 9:31 pm #