By Art Hyland – BarbWire guest contributor
“It was a lot better when Cook was a silent domestic partner rather than Apple’s wife”
With the rollout of the Apple Watch finally happening, one would expect Apple Inc. and its CEO Tim Cook to experience positive publicity once again about its new product and the free (or stealth) hype typically awarded new products from this marketing and design genius of American companies. But in a surprising decision Apple did not ship its watches to its stores, there will be no long lines outside; instead, customers must call for appointments to touch and feel a prototype after which the product can be ordered for shipment at a later date. Or apparently, one can order online. This subdued sales decision is happening at the same time that a woman just announced her candidacy for president using Twitter and a rather private gathering of non-critical media. It’s as if they both are convinced that their product is so attractive they will just make the public drool, with direct access to the public limited, and by controlled invitation. It’s the new attempt at mass-marketing: broad public exclusivity. I suspect Apple will be more successful than Hillary. After all, they actually have an evident track record. But, perhaps they will both fail this time, with Hillary and Tim having decided to do it their own way.
So much has been written about Steve Jobs’ influence over the success of Apple, he became its icon along with the apple logo he created. He was difficult to work with because he was so incredibly focused on products and their every detail. He had little time or interest in anything or anybody that didn’t help the development of Apple’s current and next big thing. The public didn’t know (or care) if he was married, single, straight, gay or Cherokee.
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But Jobs is gone, Tim Cook is now in command. Although he holds the same title as did Jobs, and despite Apple’s continued financial success these past two years, he is a very different leader than Jobs. Although Jobs admonished those he was leaving behind to not ask what he would have done, the comparisons were inevitable between Jobs and whoever would follow him. Recently, Cook decided to no longer be a homosexual content to keep his private life in a relatively classic closet mode; he publicly came out, and followed that announcement by recently writing as Apple CEO a socially aware op-ed for media distribution. It’s a new Apple, willing to out-do even Starbuck’s CEO in an effort to have Apple become more acceptable to a media world swimming with interest in dividing people by their skin color, sexual proclivities or the latest created status. Perhaps Apple’s products will soon automatically open not with Racetogether but with iGay.
Apple has now carried Tim Cook over the threshold and Cook is forcing us to like it. I don’t. It was a lot better when Cook was a silent domestic partner rather than Apple’s wife (I suppose spouse is the preferred term). I frankly preferred the gay movement when they were in the closet; fellow workers all knew, and their friends all knew, but it wasn’t necessary to market their status to everybody because their sexual status was not why they were either employees or friends. They either had character content or they didn’t. The movement claims to want this kind of objective acceptance, yet in today’s world we are told we HAVE to accept their status openly and without hesitation and certainly without personal religious objection. They claim it’s not only unfair, they want it to be illegal.
Doing anything publicly as CEO of Apple makes news, but when it involves commenting on hyped-up social issues or personal circumstances, the result is something foreign to Apple: attention for something not a product.**
I believe Jobs would be disturbed were he still here to observe. It never took much for that to happen anyway. Apple made news and lots of money with its products, with its highly guarded but anticipated product introductions, and with its unique branding. It did not create success by publicly focusing on extraneous social issues. I know Jobs promoted global warmist board member Al Gore and his Nobel prize, but he quickly took the notice of that award down from Apple’s site when he realized it was indeed extraneous to Apple’s business. Those realizations are shrinking.
Like for example during the most recent product extravaganza which included the introduction of the Apple Watch. After its demonstration by an Apple employee, a young, good looking female outdoor doctorate candidate who supported a proper women’s cause was highlighted on a giant screen video where she wore their prototype during various events including a marathon somewhere in Africa. The presentation was replete with colorful photography of her running here and there, but the use to which she put the watch was so superficial, she might just as well have been wearing a pet rock with an Apple logo. We’re supposed to be impressed by this? If she even looked at the watch in the images shown us on the big screen, I missed it. But then she appeared in person right on stage with Tim Cook himself to tell us how wonderful it was to be there.
Well that’s it, I want one. Sign me up, she’s on stage, she wore it in Africa, and that’s enough for me.
At one point, regarding the watch, Cook asked, “…isn’t that incredible?” as if begging the audience to agree. If he told the audience it or some product function was “incredible” once, he said it fifty times, it seemed. Steve Jobs did not have to tell us the products he introduced were incredible because he was convinced a demonstration would make it patently obvious. He wanted to have the audience be impressed by the product, not because someone impressive endorsed it (unless it was him because everyone knew how demanding of nifty he was). No need to align the product or Apple itself with extraneous people or subjects.
However, Apple, Starbucks, Google and many Silicon Valley tech companies with very publicly liberal chief executives are becoming the arbiters of societal thought; they just know they are right about things well beyond their highly compensated positions. Wrote Cook, “On behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of [alleged anti-gay] legislation [in Indiana and Arkansas],” despite the legislation in question merely affirming the constitutional rights of citizens to help legally protect their religious beliefs as in 20 other states. He also wrote, “We are deeply disappointed in Indiana’s new law…” As George Will pointed out, Apple isn’t particularly disappointed in Saudi Arabia’s laws (where Apple gladly sells its products), which one can say without question, are light years beyond anything in Indiana.
So with these public pronouncements and social positions, Apple, its products and its CEO are all to be considered “incredible.” Cook is gay, he’s chic, Apple is proudly progressive, and we’re to love Apple products even more now that we know they stand for social justice for most of mankind. If this sounds familiar, we see this same shtick daily from the Administration and its enabling media. Obama: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Saying it makes it so. No, it doesn’t, and that’s patently obvious too.
Cook is pandering to a liberal political and media class because he feels a need to publicly identify with them. Whether it’s carbon neutrality, the CEO’s sexual persuasion, or his opinion about an Indiana law that didn’t even do what he claims it does, Cook is reassuring his socialist/liberal friends in government and media that his and Apple’s minds are in the right – – meaning Left – – place.
Except when it comes to money
Gold was discovered in California in 1848, initiating that states’ claim as a place for wild and crazy wealth creation, and sure enough, gold – – billions of it, is pouring into California-based Apple vaults today. But Apple is keeping tons of it out of the grasp of California or Uncle Sam. Apple’s leaders aren’t willing to pay the high cost to bring billions of dollars made overseas back to California because the big governments they support and pander to socially are the same ones who would tax the hell out of Apple’s profits if they did so.
Apple is absolutely right to keep their hard-earned money, but please, stop with the duplicity of promoting government that imposes upon ordinary citizens requirements and regulations you as a company despise and successfully avoid. Perhaps Cook in his personal pursuit of social justice will persuade the Apple board to thwart corporate financial wisdom and actually bring all their billions into California, pay the enormous taxes that would be levied, shut down their low-cost manufacturing overseas, and do all the right – – meaning Left – – actions they theoretically believe in. Don’t think so. It’s so much smarter to pander than to pay. All those tightly-held Apple billions would surely help to equalize the poor and the discriminated especially in California where its socially-liberal legislature and governor can’t confiscate enough private revenue to arrange for that ultimate, utopian condition of equalizing outcomes. Corporations like super-wealthy Apple are just the sort of target California legislators have in mind.
Are you listening Tim? Apple is an eventual target for equalization; making these people happy on a publicly social level won’t take you off their target list no matter how much you convince them you’re one of them.
But back to the Apple Watch. “I’ve been waiting for this since I was 5 years old,” Cook said, and perhaps he has, not unlike many of an older generation who used to read Dick Tracy in the comic section of newspapers. Not sure the target customers of the iWatch even know who Dick Tracy is, but it doesn’t matter. It was a good line, but nevertheless Cook’s presentation was injured by his begging us to like it. To be in charge of the world’s most prestigious company, the world’s most financially successful company, the world’s most identifiable company, and to appear to be begging us to agree their product is “incredible” might be an indication he’s in charge of a company at its zenith.
I want Apple to continue to succeed beyond their and Jobs’ (and Cook’s) wildest dreams. I’m proud of an American company doing so well, no matter what their employees’ political or sexual persuasions might be. Rush Limbaugh, whose love of Apple products is well-known, has remained a huge fan of Apple products precisely because of the products themselves; and it’s to Apple’s credit and acumen that it produces products that do just as much for conservatives as for liberals and everyone in between or anywhere else in different spectrums. But to the extent that Apple deems it useful to identify their company and its products as stalwarts of PC, liberal social/political issues, they are going to severely limit their prosperity.
**This is not to say that gays are not important to Apple. There are many employed there and Apple was among the first to introduce domestic partner benefits. But that wasn’t done to look PC. Jobs saw creativity and hired it no matter the person’s private life, and by implementing benefit equality he helped create extremely loyal employees who were as willing to work for the company as were Patton’s soldiers for his Third Army. It was as much or more a financial decision as any he ever made.
UPDATE: I probably should have googled iGay, but didn’t. I never intended to highlight a site with the same name about which I was ignorant. I frankly don’t have an interest in researching the subject beyond commenting on its more public face.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.