How Steve Jobs Will Destroy Civilization

September 1, 2012

Steve Jobs unveils the Apple TV, a device which allows “consumers” to relieve themselves of the burden of owning movies and television shows.

Previously, if people wanted to possess a movie or a television series, they would be forced buy a video cassette or DVD version, or they would have to suffer the inconvenience of recording these events on a tape or digital video recorder. Once either version was in hand, then, via direct playback or by running the recording, consumers could then watch these programs as many times as desired.

The Apple TV changes everything. In what industry insiders are calling “iTunes for Television,” the Apple TV lets people rent movies and TV shows, and allows them to pay for each time they view a program. Mr Jobs explained, “Why buy when you can rent?”

Never trust a man who hasn’t learned to shave
Steve Jobs

Jeff Blake, President of Sony Pictures, a company which had previously offered a rival service, hailed the Apple innovation. “The movie and television industry applauds Apple’s amazing new technology. Never before have consumers been offered such an excitingly wide range of methods of paying for content. Sony is right there with them.”

Gizomodo’s Kat Hannaford said, “While it’s true Apple has taken over the video delivery market, a lot of people aren’t seeing that they have done so much more. Up until now, consumers were forced to go to ABC, Hulu, or Fox TV’s websites to watch programs. Worse, there was no way for those consumers to contribute a fee. Apple’s genius lay in discovering a way to get that fee.”

A spokesman for Netflix, another company in the pay-per-view space, said that CEO Reed Hastings was unavailable for comment, because he was out shopping for black t-shirts.

June 8, 2012

Jobs announces the Apple Bowdler, an iPad “app” which will electronically—and quite seamlessly—allow all text documents, such as books, stored on the iPad to be remotely improved.

Through the iPad’s Bookshelf, consumers were relieved of the terrible affliction of owning books. Apple’s book-reading license, present on every Bookshelf, freed consumers from the physicality of paper, and gave them the ability to agree to terms Apple set for reading texts. And now those texts can be endlessly refined with the Bowdler app.

David Spark, host of the popular technology show The Spark Minute, described to reporters how this app works. “It’s really simple. Suppose a publisher has an improvement they need to make to a text. In the days before the Bowdler app, there was just no way they could do it.

“Now, all it takes is a ‘genius’ at Apple headquarters to issue a command like ‘times 14.2.84 miniplenty malquoted obama rectify’ and for example the number of casualties noted in the text document History of the Iraq War ascribed to Barack Obama will be reduced to reflect the reality that should have been. It’s just amazing.”

Jobs, clad in traditional black outfit, demonstrated the app at his Keynote address by removing the Nixon presidency from not just every iPad bookshelf, but from all libraries that had subscribed to Apple’s ebook service.

Apple fanboy blogs were ablaze after the event. One blogger wrote how he “Couldn’t stop crying” after witnessing Jobs’ feat. “Apple is so so so amazing. Just so amazing.”

Jeff Bezos, in a tone which some are indicating as hurt feelings, put out a press release, in which he said, “Amazon is always innovating, and has had technology like the Apple Bowdler app in the Kindle device since day one. Users who buy the Kindle even have a non-ownership book-reading license, just like Apple.”

Industry insiders are ascribing the success of the iPad Bookshelf over the Kindle to two reasons: Apple’s perceived “cool factor” among hipsters, and because the iPad unlike the Kindle allows consumers to effortlessly switch from reading books to surfing the web or to play games.

December 7, 2012

The success of the Bowdler app was so great that Apple introduces the sister app, the Lucasator, available for the iPhone, iPad, and naturally integrating with Apple TV. This powerful software, designed in conjunction with Hollywood movie directors, does for video what the Bowdler did for text.

February 28, 2013

Apple unveils its Psyops content regulator app. Working with FDA and other government agencies, Apple has produced what many are calling a “miracle app”, and still others are naming the “Eye in the sky.”

The iDecide app uses the latest scientifically proven methods that automatically chooses content, both in text and video form, that are proven to be optimal for viewer enjoyment and edification.

Jobs said, “Working with the Master Database lets us ensure that all content is bias free. But even better is that the horrendous, and often harmful, stress consumers felt because there were too many choices to make has been removed once and for all time. The iDecide is a major entertainment and public health event.”

29 Comments

  1. It would be fitting for Apple to adopt a Winston Smith endorsement for the product; here’s a draft (imagine him strolling along a tranquil nature scene):

    “Hi, I’m Winston Smith, George Orwell’s protagonist from his acclaimed work, 1984 about a totalitarian regime that routinely rewrote history to meet near-term policies designed to manipulate the masses as needed. I was particularly adept at drafting the stories needed to accommodate historical revisionism and am singularly well-qualified to attest that with Apple’s Bowdler-equipped iPod we can automatically update your books to reflect the Official Party Line–relieving you of the need to dispose of suddenly forbidden references before you get caught & sent to a gulag.”

    (At this point imagine him entering his home & settling down on his couch before his TV, remote control now in hand:)

    “Now there’s even more good news! Apple can not only relieve you of owning movies–movies that might become forbidden & criminal to own on a moment’s notice–but with Apple’s new ‘Apple TV’ product you can leave the inventory with the Party [where we can revise the content to suit our ever-transient whims] and, by renting the shows on demand, ensure that you can only access Party-approved content while simultaneously helping finance the revisions that ensure your continued safety from arrest [wherein we will also archive your viewing habits for future reference if/when the need arises]. Worries & fears about accessing forbidden content are now over!!”

    “With Apple’s Bowdler-iPod you’ve been mindlessly taking it from me as fast as I can concoct it…and now with Apple TV you can start paying for the privilege. I’m Winston Smith, historical revisionist extraordinaire, and I was not compensated for this endorsement; honest.”

  2. The above comment is intended to be a joke…but its curious that Apple, that introduced the Machintosh computer, via a single commercial (1984 Apple’s Macintosh Commercial) that was played only once (3rd Qtr of Super Bowl 18), presented it as a means of defying the sort of control 1984 represents (corporate conformity, etc.) and is now developing the sort of tools a 1984-like regime of some sort would find particularly useful. Ironic that it has morphed into the sort of entity it originally despised.

  3. 1. You can *still* buy from the Apple Store if you want to – it just has to be to a computer and then you steam to AppleTV (or not).

    2. It’s not like “owning” TV or Movies has been something people have been doing forever – only since VHS/Beta. The license terms, even then, probably aren’t really all them much like owning a physical object – you have restricted in how you can use your “owned” media and content.

    3. You can *still* buy DVDs and rip them to your computer and then stream them to AppleTV

    4. It’s not like most TV and Movies aren’t actually crap – mostly they are exactly crap and probably not worth actually owning let alone viewing even as rentals. You may disagree but you may also have no taste or discernment of quality.

  4. You don’t get it, JG. Apple is the most dangerous company in the world right now, ever since Blockbuster got itself screwed up badly. Boy, was BB the most terrible thing that ever happened to the world!! Ahahaha!

  5. there was no way for those consumers to contribute a fee. Apple’s genius lay in discovering a way to get that fee

    Yes, indeed, necessity is the mother of invention. Those non-payed fees have been clogging my wallet and bank accounts — a genuine headache forcing periodic spending binges to ease the problem. Thankfully, Mr. Jobs has stepped up to the plate bringing much needed and welcome relief. Now, all I need is one last spending binge to purchase an Apple TV (and a Kindle for good measure) to live a care and money free life.

  6. JG sez:

    “4. It’s not like most TV and Movies aren’t actually crap – mostly they are exactly crap and probably not worth actually owning let alone viewing even as rentals.”

    So you’re saying its like the difference between renting and owning cow manure?

    “You may disagree but you may also have no taste or discernment of quality.”

    Or you have no cojones, but that’s not important.

  7. I dare say, you guys don’t get it.

    1. You still get to keep whatever content you buy via permanent media wherever you please.

    2. Purchases can still be made via the iTunes store on your Mac and then streamed to the Apple TV

    I cut cable almost 2 years ago, and thanks to Netflix, Hulu, and iTunes haven’t looked back. However, buying TV shows on iTunes was still way too expensive– to the point that I simply waited for Hulu or discount DVDs. This solves that problem.

    The beauty of this model is that I DON’T have to store stuff on my hard drive. I DON’T have to pay for extra external hard drives. I DON’T have to spend $50 on a DVD set with extras that I don’t give a crap about.

    Cable used to cost me $50/month, all for the privilege of watching tons of ads and never having shows when I wanted them. Now I can spend maybe (maybe!) $20/month for ad-free content whenever I want it.

    Not owning TV show DVDs? Big deal. How often do you go back and re-watch shows anyway.

    The only thing here I miss is sports and news, and frankly ESPN.com is making the latter easier, and after being a TV journalist I don’t care to watch it now anyway.

    This is a great solution that offers me more options than before. And for cheap. What’s not to like?

  8. “Yes, indeed, necessity is the mother of invention. Those non-payed fees have been clogging my wallet and bank accounts — a genuine headache forcing periodic spending binges to ease the problem. ”

    These “non-payed” fees are called “cable.” And they cost a ton of money.

    Or the ads on Hulu these days. Or the cost of buying DVDs/BDs. Or the cost of Netflix.

    You’re paying this money somehow already, if only through your time.

  9. Ari,

    Actually, no, you won’t get to own a book. Books now are yours to dispense with, or keep, or re-read. Further, once in your possession, they do not change in content. And the same with DVDs etc. The only difference between a DVD/VHS tape and a book is the bizarre—and unenforceable—license restricting a DVD’s use.

    Allowing a third party to retain ownership and control of the media means is not ideal. Neither Apple nor Amazon will last forever. It’s hard drives will rust. Since you never had ownership, merely a license, you must stand in line behind—far, far behind—other creditors when those companies die.

    And, as has already happened, and thus it is rational to assume that it will happen again, the content of the products you license will change.

  10. I want to make something clear here: You never ever ever own content. Ever. Never ever.

    That DVD? It’s a nice piece of plastic that grants you the license to watch whatever’s on it. That’s it. You may even get the right to copy it, per the DMCA. But that’s it.

    Apple has not taken away anything here. They have merely granted the user another way to watch/listen to content.

    The fact is that this sort of a la carte solution will save most people money, granting that they are willing to give up DVD extras or the joy of 10 minutes of commercials. Walk into a Best Buy/Target/Corner DVD Hut and look at the price of a season of TV. $30? Maybe $40?

    How many times do you really want to watch season 2 of 24? You already know how Jack Bauer is going to kill the terrorists. Replay value for TV is incredibly low for most people.

    When I buy a TV season on iTunes, I pay like $35/season. Then I have a bunch of file on my HD that will never get used again. Yay! Now, instead, I spend maybe $15 and even if I want to watch it again, it’ll cost me $30.

    Hypothetically, of course.

    However, I can still do it with BD/DVD or downloads if I want. That option isn’t going away. But guess what? The prices may come down as people flock toward rentals. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    So nobody lost even a non-right yesterday. They gained an option. And the Linux nerds on Ars and the Wintards on Gizmodo will still rage that their Boxee Box and Roku hacked with special UIs and confusing features aren’t selling.

    Shocking.

  11. Ari,

    I have heard that cutting the cable is the hipster trend. They say that ESPN is the biggest reason not to cut the cable.

  12. Briggs,

    Correct. On books I agree with you more. But ownership of TV/film media has always been a bit hazier. Look at those fancy FBI warnings on every DVD– you own nothing but a disc.

    And yes, hard drives will rust. Sure. But books will fray and turn into dust. There are books today that are damned near impossible to buy because the rights owner no longer print them. How is that different?

    “The only difference between a DVD/VHS tape and a book is the bizarre—and unenforceable—license restricting a DVD’s use.”

    It’s very enforceable. Look at the people getting nailed by Disney for showing Disney movies in nurseries.

    “Allowing a third party to retain ownership and control of the media means is not ideal. Neither Apple nor Amazon will last forever. It’s hard drives will rust. Since you never had ownership, merely a license, you must stand in line behind—far, far behind—other creditors when those companies die.”

    I propose, however, that this doesn’t matter. Books and visual media are different. Very few TV shows are consumed more than once, maybe twice. And sure, Apple will die one day as the East India Company did. Will our content go up in smoke? Possible, but unlikely. And when it comes to my collection of “South Park” episodes, it’s a chance I’ll take.

    “And, as has already happened, and thus it is rational to assume that it will happen again, the content of the products you license will change.”

    Yes, but you assume it’ll always be for the worse. Tons of content improves thanks to digital distribution.

  13. Doug,

    I hate hipsters as much as the next guy, and I cut cable because $600+ freakin’ dollars a year wasn’t worth it to me.

    I miss sports and Mythbusters. That’s it.

  14. Briggs,

    When you buy a book you own the paper that it is printed on, but you do not own the words on the page.

    DVDs and Software have taken this interpretation ever further, that you are purchasing some sort of licence to use what is on the disk.

    If you buy a work of art you do not have full rights to do with as you wish. The artist has rights, and that he can enforce if your misuse of his work has dammages his reputation. These are most commonly invoked for public sculputres, murals, and installations. These rights could also be invoked if you threatend to destroy or deface a work of art that ‘belongs’ to you.

  15. Actually, no, you won’t get to own a book. Books now are yours to dispense with, or keep, or re-read. Further, once in your possession, they do not change in content. And the same with DVDs etc. The only difference between a DVD/VHS tape and a book is the bizarre—and unenforceable—license restricting a DVD’s use.

    Here’s the thing. Most of the entertainment people consume is thoroughly disposable. I really don’t think the world or even the individual is any worse off from not being able to have permanent ownership of the latest season of “Real Housewives of DC.” I think what this rental option offers is a way to segment the market. The disposable tripe can be bought and disposed of. The stuff you like and actually value can be purchased as a hard-copy. We have seen this sort of bifurcation before. While I might buy a Dan Brown novel (for the sake of argument!) as a paperback, I can’t really imagine purchasing Moby Dick as anything but a hardcover. And even that stuff doesn’t last forever.

    When I was in college one semester I had a class in the library building and 45 minutes to kill before it started. Since I couldn’t do much in 45 minutes I made a little game out of trawling through the stacks and trying to find the oldest volume I could (1736 was my record.) Most of those things hadn’t been restored but once since being collected. You could feel the pages crumble in your hand as you try to flip through them (impressively, the bindings still held in most cases.) Content only really lasts as long as people are willing to keep copying and recopying it.

  16. Matt,

    Let me put it another way. Let’s say I only watch cable and don’t buy DVDs.

    How is that in any way better, given that I’m paying for the privilege of watching the show and ads?

    I understand the worries about losing digital content to hard drive death as well, but optical media also craps itself over time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_rot

    VHS is practically unplayable after a decade as well.

    Books are semi-permanent. I agree on e-books a great deal more.

  17. I just think it’s frakking hilarious to see mr. Briggs up in arms with the prospect of the markets fighting to get more and more solutions that do not exactly correspond with his libertarian open source ideologies, but rather with their own interests in mind, copyrights and everything.

    It’s hilarious because I could well imagine someone from the left making this argument, that the capitalist tendencies here would be to capitalize every copyrighted material every time you use it, including of course books, tv shows, movies, etc., and to demonize every Apple attempt to popularize a DRM market.

    But this indignacy coming from the right? And yet it is what happens, with the left flabbergasted and drooling for every Apple Event, while many people on the right are making this exact same line of reasoning.

    But I don’t get it. This is what happens when you let people freely invent new and innovative ways to sell you things, so what is actually bothering mr Briggs?!?

  18. I actually think that the debate over copyright is the debate of this century. We will be discussing this much more often than not.

  19. Luis,

    Well, let me be clear that I like open source as an idea. But after watching a number of open source projects end up just as bad as their commercial counterparts (Firefox, GIMP), I decided that pragmatism is the way to go. I’ll buy what’s better, I’ll open source download what’s better.

    And I also think it’s somewhat odd to see people attack Apple over DRM when Apple has been one of the few companies willing to actually get rid of DRM (look at iTunes) and fight for its removal. DRM has its place, sure, but Apple is by no means the only bad guy here: it’s the content producers who are DRM-happy.

    I don’t like Apple for its politics. I like Apple because their ecosystem of products works so damn well for me. I like things that work.

    But what’s bugging Briggs? I get it completely: he doesn’t like the idea of big groups controlling more and more of our lives and behavior. I get that. But Apple didn’t close doors. They opened new ones.

  20. Luis (again),

    IP is what will shape the economy in so many ways. How we choose to grant rights over ideas, concepts, designs, etc. is so key.

    Look at how Oracle’s attack on Google may change the entire Android enterprise.

  21. Ari, I also read Daniel Eran Dilger, so I’m quite “informed” (propagandized?) on what concerns Apple and what not. It’s not a question of whether open source is “better” than closed source. This question is irrelevant. Open or Closed is not the issue, but the resources that get into the software to build them.

    My issue is whether if companies should maintain copyrights over their IPs. And for how long. Or for instance if a corporation can patent software or hardwares. Oracle’s case is about patents, not copyright. Or if a corporation can some day patent my own friggin genes. What then, will they stop me from using them without paying a fee?!?

    These are issues that will get more and more important, since information is getting even more important than the resources it itself manages.

  22. re content manipulation.

    For years I have subscribed to
    The Writer’s Almanac . Close reading led me to compare a Dickinson verse with college text from decades ago. Inquiries re my initial discovery of a spelling variant brought no response; further research in scholarly works found no such mis-spellings.
    After discovery of other “mistakes,´´ I accepted that the hosts introduced changes to protect their rights. Maybe I mis-judge.

    I bought nothing and intend commercial use of neither verse nor Keilor´s history notes.

    Who loses?

  23. When I buy a book or DVD or other media, I do not pretend that I own the creative content. But, I can loan my book, give away my DVD, throw away my LPs or 8-tracks, or sell the whole lot on the street corner (or ebay). After I die, these assorted transmitters of information and pleasure will live beyond me, and my heirs will keep them for themselves, give them away, sell them, or just add to the nearest trash heap. I have much more freedom owning my own book (even one riddled with typos) than buying a license to read one book from a big bookseller that will not allow me to share my “book” unless I also share my “reader” (big problem, that, especially for households). There are some DVDs that give me so much pleasure and are such a fixture in my life that to pay “per view” would amount to an order of magnitude more than the $100 or so initially paid for the set.

  24. From Wired:

    Apple controls the content itself. Indeed, it retains absolute approval rights over all third-party applications. Apple controls the look and feel and experience. And, what’s more, it controls both the content-delivery system (iTunes) and the devices (iPods, iPhones, and iPads) through which that content is consumed.

  25. Jobs is an example of what happens when somebody starts believing their own press.

    The shine is off of Apple, which has become more totalitarian than Microsoft managed at its peak. This obsession with limiting what its customers are allowed to do is a complete reversal from the famous anti-tyranny commercial that launched the Mac. Combine that with Jobs’ inability to admit an error and the company has become what it most despised.

  26. Katie,

    And that option isn’t going anywhere. You can still buy books, and optical media is thriving. Now we just have another option.

    Matt,

    Here’s the other side in Androidland: http://www.engadget.com/2010/08/13/editorial-waiter-theres-a-nazi-theme-in-my-android-market/

    Yes, Apple controls its system. So what? This is something people like me have dealt with for years why buying games on consoles. It has worked out rather well for us there, as well.

    Teflon,

    Microsoft has never been terribly totalitarian (silly use of an overused word, might I add.) And what it’s found recently is that its most closed ecosystem (XBox) is actually its most envied. Look at Windows Phone 7 and how much it resembles XBox in character and philosophy.

    The other funny thing about the bizarre dislike of the iOS galaxy is that, quite frankly, iOS doesn’t exert nearly as much control over the mobile market as Windows did at its peak. iOS is a leader, and its choices certainly affect the direction of the market, but it’s a highly fragmented market that will remain fragmented. It’s only in North America that iOS reigns even sort of supreme.

    Asia? It’s still featurephones, thanks to the strength of iMode in Japan.

    Europe? Symbian.

    Developing world? Symbian.

    And does anyone believe that Symbian is some “open system?” Please. Symbian and BB OS are both similarly closed, tightly controlled experiences. It’s only because the markets are so fragmented by device that nobody flips their knickers over Nokia and RIM’s choices.

    And even though Android is technically “open,” we’re finding that the most successful devices (Droid 2/X, Galaxy, EVO) are all proprietary builds with an Android foundation. If you’re watching, you’ve seen what Motorola is doing to people trying to re-skin the Droid X. Kill switch!

    The worst part about Google’s role is that nobody seems to realize that Google is making money by using your information. Does nobody notice that Google, bit by bit, is controlling the way we access and use information? Personally, I find that far more insidious than Apple telling a-hole developers that they can’t put Nazi apps in the App store.

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