There’s a fine line between those companies that generate overblown marketing materials and the true egotists that actually believe it. The irony is that those who generally promote the notion that they’re changing the world usually aren’t and those who don’t often are.
Take, for example, the late Matti Makkonen, who invented SMS messaging, who didn’t think his invention was patentable and so never applied for one. And at the other end of the spectrum is Apple, which has tried to patent rectangles with curved corners, and which thinks everything it makes is ‘amazing’. That’s not to say that Apple hasn’t made the odd world-changing device, but the idea that everything it’s made creates an epochal moment just doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. I’ve never actually attended an Apple event, mostly because it does them in the USA these days, but also because it never actually invites me. The ones I’ve watched outline why I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable there even if I did attend. Tthe relationship between the tech press and Apple in the US isn’t one I recognise, with the possible exception of the fawning the BBC lavishes on it. Loud whooping and clapping accompany each reveal and statement like attendees are playing some type of buzzword bingo – one where one more ‘incredible’ completes a line and wins them a prize! I saw something similar at the recent Microsoft event, where it announced the Surface Studio, though I believe it had only invited about 100 to 150 journalists, and the rest of the whoopers were ‘Windows fans’ – if that’s a believable label in this age. These days, I watch these things with more than a hint of incredulity, mostly as to what Panos Panay, Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive have been drinking before they take to the stage to address their faithful. But even by these standards, Apple has exceeded its remarkably high standards for self-congratulation. Having fallen so deeply in love with itself, it recently published a very personal book, a 300-page love letter of sorts, detailing it proudest design moments. ‘Designed by Apple in California’ comes in two sizes, a larger 13” x 16.3” tome for $299 and a handy 10.2” x 12.8” edition for $100 less. Inside are 450 gorgeously crafted images of Apple products on specially milled German paper, hardback linen covers with a special
introduction by the breathless Jony Ive. “It is both a testament and a tribute to the meticulous design, engineering and manufacturing methods that are singularly Apple.”
Wow. In an interview with Dazed, Jony Ive states that creating this book was a ‘responsibility’, Apple had no choice in documenting its journey and that it had taken eight years to create it. In making it available it had, in Ive’s words, created “a resource for students of all design disciplines.”
I should point out that Narcissus (the Greek mythological character who name the word ‘narcissist’ is derived from) was too obsessed to patent the concept, so there won’t be any issue with Apple rebranding it as entirely as its own idea.
We can only hope the market for a $300 book declaring Apple’s unlimited scope for self importance is small and the print run long. And that all the unsold copies are sent to Jony Ive’s home where he can luxuriate in his own creative brilliance. Somehow I’ve resisted the urge to order a copy.