A few weeks ago, Apple took the covers of the much awaited new iPhone. It didn’t quite live up to all the hype (iPhone 5 anyone?) but did mean that Apple remain top dogs in the Smartphone market. Much less eagerly awaiting was the news a day later that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple had died after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. Even his enemies admired his bullish determination and technological savvy.
Steve Jobs was undoubtedly a prickly character, as testified by many who had to work or trade with him. In the height of the battle between Apple and Microsoft, the adage was that Microsoft had terrible software but a very amiable CEO (Bill Gates), while Apple had great software but a nightmare for a CEO. He was intense, driven and totally single-minded, which is why in many ways, Apple products turned out so well. They weren’t designed by committee, they were designed by a PR genius. Steve Jobs had a knack of knowing what people wanted when they didn’t.
As the new of Steve’s death spread across the web, the talk he gave when he was given an honorary degree at Stanford Uni went viral. In it he expresses his philosophy about life, death and everything else. Here’s a quote:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
He’s right about the first bit. No one wants to die, or few people do, but I think he’s terribly wrong about death being the single best invention in life. The reason no one wants to die is because death is the ultimate enemy, not a great invention. In fact, ironically, the death of Jobs has meant the techie world will be worse of without him for many many year. Death has a nasty habit of clearing away the best as well as the worst. Death is always unbelievably tragic.
I also think he’s wrong when he says that no one has escaped death. The Bible’s view is diametrically opposed to Steve’s. The hope of Christianity, the central hope is that death is not a full stop, it’s not the end, but a beginning of something greater.
The great news of the Christian gospel is that everything sad will not remain sad, but one day come untrue. Tim Keller notes that right at the end of the Lord of the Rings, there’s a brilliant insight into the Christian hope:
In the last book of The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee wakes up, thinking everything is lost and discovering instead that all his friends were around him, he cries out: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” (Tim Keller)
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Really think about this! It took us two decades or more of Internet advertising to finally come to ads that can do more than dancing monkeys or whcak this mole or whisk us away to another website.
At least I don’t click on Banner ads and display ads when I am doing something. The reason is that it takes me away from my current attention or focus!
Of course, it is silly since we always have the Back button to get back to where left off. But psychologically, it just doesn’t work.
Add to this the fact that I, like a trained monkey, know that if I click on the link all it will do for me is to take me to another site where they will surely sell me something. Pavlovian memory keeps me away from that dang display ad!
Maybe I am not in the mood for being sold. May be for ……about 99.99% of the time!
On the other hand, if the ad becomes interactive and seamlessly does a lot more than just hawk me stuff, I will be more interested in interacting with brands, movies, or in other words, the guys who spend the big bucks on advertising – Soap, Shampoo, Beer and Automobiles.
Google Search Ads never made sense for Dove Shampoo or Soap for example or banner ads so far! The iAd technology includes built-in support in the iphone OS for streaming video, shaking, location based calls, etc making it a truly interactive. personalized experience.
For example, a Toyota or a Ford ad for a car will recommend dealers near you since they already can get your location!
Mobile advertising is going to leapfrog over Internet advertising and bring in the big spenders!
In about two years time we will be talking about how Apple completely changed advertising. Mark my words!
“During [the twentieth] century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport—the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.
I expect that history will show “normal” mainstream twentieth century media to be the aberration in all this. ‘Please, miss, you mean they could only just sit there and watch? They couldn’t do anything? Didn’t everybody feel terribly isolated or alienated or ignored?’
“Yes, child, that’s why they all went mad. Before the Restoration.”
“What was the Restoration again, please, miss?”
“The end of the twentieth century, child. When we started to get interactivity back.”
– Douglas Adams – 1999 – How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet.
Great article about Apple iAds. The article comes from this blog post. Forgot to link to that in the original post.
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