Flash, Brer Rabbit, and Steve Jobs - A 21st Century Tale

Discussion in 'iPad' started by vrDrew, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. vrDrew, Jun 17, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011

    vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby Traditional American Folktale

    Steve Jobs made his famous Thoughts On Flash posting in April 2010. The same month as the original iPad appeared in retail stores. I was struck not only by the coincidental timing, but also the peculiarity of such a statement. Why would a notoriously secretive CEO, of one of the most privacy-obsessed companies in a secrecy-obsessed industry, so publicly set forth a major strategic decision?

    The answer, it seems, wasn't that Steve Jobs was hoping that every other potential tablet-maker would follow his lead and choose to keep Flash off their devices. He was hoping that they would do everything they could to make sure Flash was enabled. And they've all, predictably, fallen into his trap.

    Apple was in a unique situation. Unlike just about every other personal computer hardware maker, they'd also had decades of experience running an Operating Systems business. And so Apple's developers, and engineers, and marketers, have had an unparalleled view of the way in which consumers deal with their devices. The frustration and anger, to say nothing of customer service and refund costs, of unexplained system crashes and hangs. The endless arms-race between malware creators and antivirus software. In short - everything that people didn't like about owning computers. And they determined that Flash played a big role in many of them.

    Apple also, as a company, has a pretty good idea of its position in the world. They knew that their competitors were unlikely to be able to beat them on price, on technical features, or on usability. They knew Apple's App store was years ahead of their rivals. And they knew the Apple retail business gave them a clear advantage.

    But they also knew that if the iPad was a hit, then all the technology companies in the world would be coming after them. How best to throw them off the scent?

    Answer: Flash. Give their rivals the perfect "competitive feature." Something that HP, and Samsung, and Motorola, and RIM could build their business and marketing strategies around. And here's where the genius comes in.

    Because Apple knew it would take a year before Adobe, and Google, and the manufacturers themselves could cobble together a version of Flash that worked - sort of - on a Tablet. A year in which Apple built an insurmountable marketshare and App-ecosystem lead.

    Because Apple knew that, at the best of times, Flash-on-a-tablet was going to be a "so-so" affair. That, with a little bit of luck, there would be some well-publicized Flash-enabled security breaches on Android devices.

    Because Apple knew that Adobe's inability to get Flash working properly would tempt manufacturers to ship products before they were really ready.

    In short, Apple knew that the more their competitors embraced Flash, the more they would not only delay their entry into the market - the more they would cripple their products.

    Maybe Steve Jobs never read the story about how the wily Brer Rabbit tricked his opponent into doing just what he wanted. But he is almost certainly familiar with Sun Tzu's famous maxim from The Art of War:

  2. 4DThinker macrumors 68020

    Mar 15, 2008
    Apple had no idea how to make a successful tablet until they saw the key idea here on this forum in 2009. Nice tale though.
  3. interwebs macrumors member

    May 26, 2011

    Okay, well that's was...some story. Sounds like you're quite the Apple enthusiast.
  4. bursthead macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2010
    It sounds plausible, and you may be onto something...
  5. bufffilm Suspended


    May 3, 2011
    yet another idolatrous post from Steve Jobs #1 flunky. or perhaps he's your #1 obsession.

    either way...you're startin' to scare me, a little.
  6. Lotso macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    OC, California

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