Something odd is happening inside Apple; various faux pas and oddities have been cropping up here and there in the months since Steve Jobs’ passing. The tides of change seem to be slowly eroding away one of the company’s founding principles: scrupulous attention to detail.
On what would have been Steve Jobs’ 57th birthday, we ask – has Apple already lost its touch?
Today, the 24th February, marks what would have been Jobs’ 57th birthday. His legacy is lengthy and has been written about at length by a million other websites, but it seems of late that one thing that hasn’t carried on at Apple is Jobs’ obsessive eye for the finer nuances of design and brand identity.
Jobs’ just-so nature was so severe that Apple’s first CEO Michael Scott once said it was to his detriment. On the development of the Apple II, he said in an interview: “I stayed out of it but for weeks, maybe almost six weeks, the original Apple II case, Jobs wanted a rounded edge on it so it didn’t have a hard feel.
“They spent weeks and weeks arguing exactly how rounded it would be. So that attention to detail is what Steve is known for, but it also is his weakness because he pays attention to the detail of the product, but not to the people.” But that attention to detail works, and it looks to be ebbing away.
Now, before we continue we should make the following disclaimer: by no means has Tim Cook’s reign at Apple sent the company spiraling into oblivion. Apple continues to absolutely smash it in terms of sales and still has an aspirational edge when it comes to marketing.
However, and it is a big however, things are starting to slip through the net that we don’t think would have done under Jobs’ watchful eye. Let’s look at the evidence…
See that picture? It’s from Apple’s website, under the section on company ethics. Notice anything odd? Unless we’re mistaken, that’s the first time we’ve ever seen anything on Apple’s website that shows a non-Apple product.
The projector we can forgive because Apple doesn’t have an alternative, but the laptops to the right of the MacBook Air? Windows machines. We just don’t see that happening under the Jobs regime.
And here again. Ignore the desk phone; look at the laptop. That’s an HP machine (if we’re not mistaken), running what seems to be Windows 7 at an Apple ‘employee assistance program’ in Shanghai. And these are recent pictures.
Would Jobs have allowed Windows kit to be plastered on his company website? We’re not going to speak on his behalf, but it strikes us as being unlikely.
There’s more, though. This lack of perfection has started to sneak into other areas of business. The calendar in iOS 5 has started to attract attention from nit-pickers for its sudden lack of uniformity. The ‘1’ on the calendar app, for instance, no longer lines up in the dead centre of the app icon when it’s the first of the month.
It’s worse still inside the app. The calendar found in iOS 5 and above has played havoc with the brain of any OCD sufferers out there thanks to the positioning of the days of the week on the grid. Previously, the shortened days (Mon, Tue, Wed, etc.) all sat dead centre above the columns of numbers. In iOS 5 the words start to slip off to the left at about the ‘Thu’ mark, getting to the point where ‘Sun’ is completely off-centre (as denoted by our handy red line).
There’s also been the odd big App Store faux pas. We’re not about to suggest that no bad apps ever made it through on Steve Jobs’ watch because quite the opposite is true, but recent gaffes like the Camera+ app sneaking by the approvers certainly means that the process isn’t getting any tighter as time goes on.
You may think that this is all a bit over-analytical, but that’s exactly the point. We’re talking about a company that’ll go to the lengths of filming entire staged holidays to show off new versions of its software (iMovie, below), or of developing a status light for its computers that doesn’t blink (the LED on Macs “mimics the rhythm of breathing which is psychologically appealing.”)
It’s that sort of extreme precision that has got Apple to where it is today. Not only that, but it’s ensured the company has a certain type of fan – one who won’t let half-measures and dodginess slip by unnoticed. These people demand a crazy sort of perfection, and that’s a need that’s no longer being met in quite the way it used to.
We’re sure that Apple’s not about to crumble under the weight of these slight oversights, but oversights they are, and they’re uncharacteristic. Does it mean that Jobs’ legacy is already fading? We really hope not. Let us know your thoughts below.
Calendar spot via Gizmodo