inessential by Brent Simmons

Pretend you’re Apple

Say you’re Apple. It’s a few years ago. You make and sell computers.

You see the rise of web apps, and you notice people talking about how desktop apps are done. Desktop apps are done because, with web apps, people can login from anywhere, any machine, and get to their stuff. That’s cool, and you know it’s cool.

You make computers and operating systems, and you think to yourself: “How can I sell computers that are pretty much just web browsers? How is a Mac better than a Dell or a Sony in that case?”

I think the first thing you do is make sure you have a great browser. Faster and better than the competition. And keep at it, don’t let up.

Then you think to yourself: “What if people didn’t have to just use any machine they find? What if they have their computer with them all the time?”

I think you then work on making great laptops, so people actually can have their computer with them most of the time. You make the hardware and OS and software so great that people want these laptops.

Then you think to yourself, “People aren’t carrying their laptops to the grocery store! They don’t always have their computer with them.”

You decide to expand your definition of computer: you make iPhones. And then iPads. You make beautiful hardware and software — you create an experience so new and compelling that people lust for these things.

You open these up to developers, too, and hope a hundred thousand flowers bloom, since that makes these devices all the more valuable.

And it works!

You’ve avoided the bleak future where computers are nothing but web browsers, where user experience is struggling to hit 1995 levels of quality, where all you’re making is a dumb terminal that can show pictures and play video, where you’re back to being the “beleaguered” Apple, whose product is a commodity easily matched, or close enough, by other companies that charge less.

Instead you’re this Apple, the one that reports record sales and profits.

Good job, you!