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Michael Wolff Headshot

Steve Jobs Can't Save Us

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Steve Jobs, who will be celebrated everywhere today for the great farsightedness of his tablet, is, curiously, an old fart.

He's a guy who loves his machines. He's a tinkerer. A guy who's most at home in a hardware store -- which is really what an Apple store is, just souped up and redecorated.

He's also, in the way of old guys, an authoritarian. He wants to be stubbornly in control (even when that's not possible). Indeed, one might fairly conclude from any interaction in an Apple store, that he is, too, rather a totalitarian -- Orwellianly so. That old ad, Apple's 1984 attack on IBM, is, in hindsight, about itself -- it's Jobs and Apple who have megalomaniacal dreams of creating machines that control the world.

Jobs has stubbornly -- or fetishistically -- bucked the most fundamental trends in technology and information, that the future is not hardware (it hasn't been for three generations), it's software.

Today's announcement of a new device is yet another effort to apply the added value of Steve's fetishism to a consumer electronic product. The simplicity of that business model is somewhat obscured by Job's crafty plan to couple his new machine to lots of old media products. Or, really, the smoke here is that lots of old media types, hoping that Jobs' device will save their business -- as though old media's problem is just that it needed a different computer -- are now proclaiming Jobs, once again, as the man who understands it all.

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