Rex shares his thoughts on Apple, and it's a bite the tech giant might not like.

Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode

iRex

Thursday, March 8, 2012

If somebody came up with a device that could (a) end world hunger, (b) forestall nuclear war for all time and (c) erase the cast of Jersey Shore from the memory of the man – I doubt that person would get the kind of "news" coverage the Apple corporation gets anytime it has a hiccup.

From Australia to Alaska, whenever Apple has not a new product, an upgrade – in other words a re-jigged version of something it’s already sold under equipped in the tens, if not hundreds of millions – every news outlet in the world: magazines, online, blogs, network news, the twitter gallery, halts to note the latest trinket from the most profitable corporation on the face of the Earth. 

It started with iPod, which was a tinkering with existing technology to produce, essentially, just a small jukebox tied to a couple of peanuts serving as headphones. Not a world-changing moment, not an advance in civilization like the Renaissance, or the invention of the wheel.

Yet the iPod garnered awe-hushed attention of the whole news planet. Steve Jobs was Marco Polo, Leonardo da Vinci and Einstein, rolled into one and stuffed in a black T-Shirt. 

Now, I have no wish to diminish Mr. Jobs’ memory, but he invented essentially a toy for slackers and those of us who wish to be, a soundtrack for uneventful lives, for the trip to that great cathedral in our malls, halfway between the food court and the hard-to-find washrooms, that is the Apple Store.

It’s not a shop; it’s a status-station, the hippest place on Earth to go broke.

Next it was the iPhone; the world re-trembled. It was a shiny phone.  It was a sleek phone. It had Apps.

It was, for a moment, the Taj Mahal of gadgets. Somewhere Charles Darwin was smiling.  Human Evolution was complete, we’d finally let go of the vines and picked up the iPhone.

All was as nothing however, compared to the global dust storm that greeted the iPad. The iPad in my judgment was the greatest technological leap since Maytag’s first wringer washer.  It was a slate with lights.

The iPad was a big iPhone with a glass face that you could flick at with your fingers like those guys on C.S.I.  Wow. The Jack Nicholson line in the first Batman movie applies here, "Where does he get those toys?!"

Well toys they are. No more. And Apple, far from being primarily an innovator, is the world’s most successful marketing machine. The slim point I’m making here is that we shouldn’t treat Apple’s latest raid on the fat pockets of the West as news. They are no more or less than: Nike, Coca-Cola, Ford, Starbucks or Wal-Mart.  They’re a big company with stuff to sell. They’re also the possessors of the slickest marketing the world has ever seen.

Apple’s marketing is the miracle. That’s fine. But, it’s not news. And we shouldn’t treat it as such.

For The National, I’m iRex.