The Good Apple has been very, very good. I'm writing this on an iBook running OS X--the best all-around desktop operating system ever built, in my opinion, from the day Apple released it right through the updated version released this week. The company took the industrial design of its products seriously, even when other PC makers built systems with all the panache of an East German post office. And Apple made a real and lasting contribution to the open-source world through Darwin, the command-line core of OS X that doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves outside of the FreeBSD developer community.
The Bad Apple, on the other hand, sues and harasses journalists who won't roll over and sell out their sources. It exhibits an obsession with secrecy and a sense of paranoia that makes Stalin's Politburo look like an "Up With People!" troupe. And it pulls a publisher's titles from its store shelves, simply because it plans to sell a book revealing that Steve Jobs tore the walls out of hotel suites with a chain saw when he toured with the Eagles.
Wait a minute, that's Joe Walsh. Never mind.
Still, the fact that Apple's executives are all on the verge of swallowing their own tongues over an unauthorized Steve Jobs biography suggests that it's reallytime to give Bad Apple a quick trip to the dark end of a mine shaft. Consider:
- Prior restraint and harassment of journalists are all the rage in, say, North Korea. Most companies prefer to stay off that bandwagon; Apple is chasing it down the street like a rabid dog going after a sausage truck.
- Which genius at Apple decided the company could pull off this move without generating more publicity than the book would ever have gotten otherwise?
- The same one, most likely, who approved the last, equally productive attempt to play this game.
- John Wiley & Sons is one of the world's biggest book publishers; I doubt the lost revenue from Apple's stores will even qualifiy as a rounding error on its books. My point: It's a bad idea to kick a 300-pound gorilla in the butt because you want it to give up its banana.