I was just thinking this morning about Apple, and their unspoken agreement with creative digital media professionals, and yes, there is one. Steve (Jobs) makes the offer to you of a free new Apple computer every year. Plus, he’ll pay you a little cash to take it.
Many perceive that Apple purposely drives software development such that the computer that was screaming fast last year is barely chugging through jobs this year. Now that Apple supplies us with most of the software we use every day, they have more control over this planned obsolescence than ever before.
All they need to do is entice us with enough new features to keep us on the bleeding edge of OS and application upgrades, then make sure our performance erodes subtly at each upgrade, until our patience becomes a major factor and we order the latest supercomputer. Taken as an isolated strategy, one could take a critical view.
So why are Apple users (like me) so happy? The famed RDF (Reality Distortion Field) surely cannot account for all the continued success among media professionals considering the harsh realities of payroll, leases, and mortgage payments.
First, for the new computer to feel lightning quick, it actually has to be faster. Apple can only keep achieving this with continual processor speed gains and other improvements, such as leveraging OpenGL, etc., that truly make certain processes faster.
Second, Apple has to continually be making improvements other than simple speed gains to make us more productive- elegance in the OS, user interface evolution, interapp integration, background and batch processing, and so on.
The deal I have with Steve as a digital media professional is this:
Make me 10% more productive each year than I would with WinXP or Linux. I will turn that productivity gain into 10% more cash, take that cash and buy a new Apple computer and laptop with it, upgrade software, and maybe a new display. Then, Uncle Sam and I split what’s left.
As long as that equation works, which it does for me, I will continue to get a free Apple computer or two every year, plus Steve keeps me in sushi as well.
Not a bad arrangement!