The US is Apple and Everyone Else is an Android or Forked

Down amongst the tech bloggers, where I occasionally go as a medieval peasant might have gone to hear disputes he didn't understand but liked the look of, there is discontent. As Kate Mackenzie notes, there is something about Apple which disturbs the universe. Otherwise rational people look to its problems, and not the solutions; to its losses, and not to its growing market share, to its dominance and not its innovation. Then they go spare. By contrast, people ignore the way that China, and Amazon--we should really talk of large companies in the same breath as states, now--have 'forked' android, whereas others have institutionalised it as a cheap, low-marginal-revenue choice. People don't see that the nexus and kindle compete with each other on slightly different terms, but that neither threaten the apple-surface battle above them, which apple has probably already won. They just don't want to admit to the continuing reign of the Steve Jobs Legacy Band.

I can't help seeing the analogy with the USA. In the past twelve years, the United States has gone from the deliberate infliction of self-destructive, voodoo economics, pointless wars of choice, TARP, and foreclosure, to anaemic growth, whilst securing something approaching energy sufficiency and a deeply flawed but fixable healthcare provision. It has been attacked for just about everything it does, or does not do, and it has been assailed from within and without as unsustainable.

In the long run, it should be. America should never have been sustainable. A continental republic on largely eighteenth century federalist lines, split regionally and challenging the world should not have lasted. A state in which it is almost impossible to talk of the congeries of governing bureaucracies and structures as a state, but which has not most of the time been an Empire, isn't unprecedented, but the comparators haven't been particularly long-lasting. At the back of the European mind (and a certain American type too), the US has always been in decline, only occasionally hopeful, and really shouldn't carry on anyway.

Yet it does. Like apple maps, it emerges stronger from every self-inflicted debacle. And Europe? This great EU, which was meant to surpass and survive the US? A deflationary, godless joke issuing ukases like a Bulgarian Tsar presiding over a morally sick continent run by a clueless political class on the edge of getting deep sixed or 1793'ed doesn't immediately strike me as google or samsung. However, the self-image, of an open-source field of differing programmes, cost levels and apps within one common field  that different devices can access does strike me as a bit android. The EU and the European Court in particular have developed in recent years the ideas of variable geometry and margins of appreciation which allow local adaptation in ways that Apple's more Roman configuration do not.

The trouble is,that Apple still offers more hope for the future, and probably a better share price, than most of  the competition. It has stabilised its brand, its operating system and users are more dynamic, its advertising pitch rings true, and what it has traded in transparency it has regained in system integrity. Indeed, its main problem is older versions of the system turning up unable to be physically plugged in or integrated into the new software. In an uncertain market, people run to the proven brands so long as they can maintain their efficiency.

You can take analogies so far. Apple isn't, at the minute, aborting millions, dropping bombs on children and nutters from drones, forcing churches to pay for satanism, or seriously proposing to make the likes of the GOP 2016 field CEO. Nor is the EU offering a Fruit Ninja option. But at 5am on a Sunday morning, the analogy does, at least, get the brain working.Smell the coffee, Meenagh, Smell the coffee...it'll keep the shrinks away.

Comments

Martin said…
"Down amongst the tech bloggers, where I occasionally go as a medieval peasant might have gone to hear disputes he didn't understand but liked the look of, there is discontent" -

You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Personally I'm happy if the things just switch on.