I was suprised by the iPhone’s price drop, but even more surprised by the open letter to all iPhone customers. The tone was polite, honest and direct, but I had the feeling it left no doubt about who’s in charge. It was obvious long time ago that Apple designs with arrogance (Clay Shirky beautifully writes on this topic in this “A Brief Message” post). But Mr Cringely manages to strip down Mr Jobs entirely, exposing his marketing genius, leaving no doubt about the recent price drop and it’s purpose. You almost get the feeling, as you read in awe, that Steve Jobs is the new Palpatine, soon to take over the entire universe in his white&minimalistic iDeath Star :))
Joke aside, this useful insight which proves Apple can and does do anything it wants with it’s customers only underlines the true power of design (no, not the dark side :P). The whole Apple strategy is dead simple, make the best looking and coolest designed stuff people need (or we think they’d need, since we, designers, know better, right ?) and the cash starts flooding in. Why ?
Because we still have little real, good, efficient design around us. We think we do, but we don’t actually. This is why a well thought product manages to sweep the market so easily: because it has (almost) no real competition.
The only problem is when the unchallenged leader begins to slow down, overconfident with its size and power. Or when it becomes so engulfed by it’s arrogance that it begins to lose contact with the end of the chain, the buyer. All great empires have fallen, as history unkindly has proven (well, capitalism seems to be the most succesful so far, but I don’t want to imagine what would replace it, should it fall). But for now, Steve Jobs still wants to show everybody he’s won. So the show will still go on, with, maybe, the best to come. And in the end, it’s all good for us, users.