Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Procrastination. It's a beautiful thing.

I'm supposed to be studying for a test. It's always more fun to screw around when you're supposed to be doing something else.

I'd like to talk about doughnuts. I love doughnuts. We have a place in town called "Spudnuts." They use potato flour to make their confections. There are no other doughnut shops in town. Spudnuts has the local monopoly. If you show up at work around here with some other brand of doughnuts, you are marked as a loser. My neighborhood grocery store makes and sells doughnuts. When the night crew wants breakfast, they go buy Spudnuts even though there are fresh doughnuts made on the premises.

We don't have Dunkin's or Krispy Kremes. We have Spudnuts.

Spudnuts hasn't done anything evil to maintain their monopoly. They just make the best doughnuts. Even though there are other doughnuts made in the neighborhood – at grocery stores and such – Spudnuts thrives. They don't do anything extra at all. They just make great stuff.

Spudnuts has more competition than Apple does because other companies actually make doughnuts.

Nobody else sells what Apple sells. Nobody.

Dell, Sony, Acer, Gateway, HP et al, make boxes. Microsoft and the vast unorganized herd of Linux cats write OSes and some other software. Other companies chip in bits and pieces of software and hardware. Nokia and RIM and Motorola make phones. SanDisk and others make mp3 players. If any one of those companies decides to redesign anything, they depend on all the others to match with their own compatible redesigns. If any company is slow getting the changes out of committee, the whole frigging ecosystem goes down the toilet.

Think Vista and drivers.

Apple builds a software/hardware universe into which every thing they build fits. They also build it all to work with open standards. Their competition is a disjointed ecosystem with a morass of proprietary standards that all have to be met by the disparate companies in order for anything to work.

To continue with the Spudnuts analogy: Apple makes doughnuts. Apple controls every ingredient in every doughnut it sells. Each company in the competing ecosystem only provides an ingredient for doughnuts. No single company has ultimate control of the final product.

I think it was H.G. Rickover (Father of the Nuclear Navy) who once observed that if you can't put your hand on the shoulder of the man who's responsible, nobody is responsible. So, who will be responsible when Apple retakes the moribund computer industry in a few years?

Probably Steve Jobs. Elsewhere there will be finger pointing and chest thumping.

I'll accept my share of credit, of course. Just bring a dozen Spudnuts. I'll make coffee.

Anybody for a deviled egg?