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The questions central to New York Magazine's lengthy feature on Steve Jobs, Apple and the iPhone are: Will the iPhone be a resounding success, or will it fail, thus signaling the decline of Apple and, in turn, Jobs? Written by John Heilemann, an author who ten years ago penned a piece about how Jobs wouldn't be able to rescue Apple, the article goes into the meteoric rise, the crushing fall and the resurrection of the company. Heilemann, who's obviously intelligent and well-informed, posits some great questions, but shys away from making any real predictions on what the iPhone will do for Apple's business—he, like everyone else, has absolutely no idea. Some excerpts from the piece:
With the iPhone, in particular, he is hurling Apple into foreign waters. His motivations for doing so aren’t difficult to discern. Somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion cell phones are sold worldwide every year; in terms of scale, ubiquity, and relevance, it’s the mother of all consumer-electronics markets. The chance to upend this sprawling industry, bend it to his will, is one that Jobs, being Jobs, finds irresistible. Apple’s competitors, by contrast, find the prospect of the iPhone terrifying. “The entire fucking Western world hopes that it’s a case of imperial overstretch,” says the CEO of one of the planet’s largest communications companies. “But everybody is quietly saying, er, what if people want to buy a $500 phone? What if, er, people have been waiting for a device that does all these things? What if this thing works as advertised? I mean, my God, what then?”And now, we must all sit and wait.
The emerging consensus, in fact, is that the incumbents’ dread is warranted. That Jobs is about to do it again—to unleash another object of overwhelming, consciousness-drenching, culture-shifting desire. That Apple’s past is merely preface to a period of increasing and metastasizing dominance.
But Jobs has been wrong before. And if the iPhone proves a disappointment, his reputation will take a precipitous tumble: from unerring visionary to just another overreaching mogul. What’s at stake for Jobs, then, isn’t money or power—for no matter how the iPhone fares, he’ll still have both in abundance. What’s at stake is the thing that now must matter to him above all: the ending of his story.
· Steve Jobs in a Box [NY Mag]
· iPhrenzy: T-Minus 3 Weeks Till The iPhone Hits [Racked]