The age of iApple is over

Once upon a time there was a company with a few weeks left to live in desperate search of leadership and a good idea. That’s the Apple story that got us here:

Change is here

The Apple that gave us the iMac reflected a time when liberal individualism was at its highest point.

In this context, it made sense that a firm led by what was promoted as a pair of tech industry Svengalis (Steve Jobs and Jony Ive) would somehow reflect the zeitgeist and introduce products that defined their age.

That product was the iMac. It was followed by a succession of other systems that also helped define a future, climaxing in the iPod-nurtured iPhone.

The iPhone bought the world together.

Of course, bringing the world together has consequences – look at the electoral interference many see as generated by social media.

“If you built a chaos factory, you can’t dodge responsibility for the chaos,” as Apple CEO Tim Cook puts it.

Those consequences aren’t just negative, they are also positive.

Digital transformation of everything

Think about how connectivity is driving collaboration up, how new industries are evolving and new models forming.

For good and ill, every industry and almost every part of life is being changed in this connected age.

All this change is also being reflected in the dominant philosophies of our time. 

Under the surface there is a mass movement that favors collective responsibility and wealth redistribution above reactionary denial of a changing age.

These battles are currently being played out in real time, and there is no telling which way the final hammer will fall.

What has this to do with Apple?

This has so much to do with Apple.

This is what I think:

  • Apple’s resurgence was led by a benevolent dictator in the form of Steve Jobs.
  • The media loved this story – Jobs’ time in the wilderness, hippy background, his huge success in turning Apple around.
  • Apple’s PR departments fed the story, adding Jony Ive as the creative face to Job’s visionary zeal.
  • A company of thousands became the story of just two men.

But Apple never really was just two men – though at a time when liberal individualism was everything, its leadership story meant its products fit the time.

Times have changed.

The new deal

Just as the times have changed, so has Apple.

Today’s Apple is about shared values, corporate responsibility, and constructive engagement with real challenges.

A company that strives to make a difference.

Apple’s transformation into a company coalesced around such values is a natural reflection of how the enterprise is changing worldwide.

In general terms, most consumers seek out shared values, prize human connection and want to do the right thing for the world.

Why do you think everyone in retail keeps going on about such changes? They aren’t fantasizing. Today’s consumers truly are connected.

And have values.

These are also the values today’s Apple is building itself around – collective, progressive, responsible.

Making a difference.

These values are not about individualism.

They reflect a form of supra-individualism in which groups of highly independent people find constructive ways to work together for the collective good of all.

Apple’s move to reflect these values means it is no longer the province of any individual but represents the shared efforts and aspirations of all its people.