Steve Jobs and You, like Ships in the Eternal Night of Outer Space

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There’s been a lot of hype lately about the rising tide of you-culture and user generated content. Much of which I wrote with my own 8 fingers.

So what with the iPhone coming out and all, it’s interesting to look at Apple in that context. Because it’s the least you-culture company I know of. They do no market research on new products. They don’t want to hear your opinion. It’s all about neatness and control, a few smart people in a locked room releasing products to the grateful (well, some of them) many. The arrow only points one way. Sure, you can bring up a command line on OS X, but how many people bother? Just stare at the pretty animations and play with your translucent beads and be happy.

While I was in Cupertino last week several execs stressed to me — including Jobs and VP of hardware marketing Greg Joswiak — that the iPhone is a closed platform. Closed closed closed. Nobody’s harnessing the global hivemind to come up with new widgets here. It would mess up their delicate power management systems and such.

And of course, that’s why the iPhone is so ridiculously great. Seriously: once you get close to this thing, you’ll realize it’s an artifact from the future. It’s that much better than anything else you’ve ever seen. And it’s precisely because Apple is a closed shop: their software running on their hardware, in a tiny, tight, perfectly integrated techno-eco-system. Apple is smarter than you, and you’ll take your iPhone and you’ll like it.

Jobs has discovered the limits of the Youniverse. You can make YouTube, and Wikipedia, and even, in a way, Firefox and Linux. But you’ll never make a phone worth a damn.