Here is some of the evidence from the last month or so of that desire for control, and how it can backfire:
- Third party iPhone developers can't exchange information that would improve their work and the quality of available applications.
- Apple sets resellers up to deal with old models.
- News of a blacklisting system for iPhone apps, meaning that Apple actively monitors what users load onto the devices they've paid for and deactivate any the company doesn't want, has just come out.
- Apple repeated the iPhone activation disaster that it clearly should have been able to anticipate and solve.
- The launch of MobileMe, Apple's cloud personal information manager, became such a fiasco that Steve Jobs had to admit that it was sub-par.
- Many iPhone users are angry about application crashes, system hangs, and unreasonably long sync times.
It's been a long time since Apple was a small company. These days, it is a massive consumer electronics firm, not a niche provider of machines beloved by right-brained types. Eventually a company becomes so large that it cannot hope to control every aspect of its existence. Instead, the smart corporations focus on what is most important and put a lot of attention on once-simple details that are more critical, and more difficult, than ever before.
Apple isn't taking that necessary step. Maybe Steve Jobs needs to stick with being a visionary chairman and get a crack operations person to act as the CEO, just as Bill Gates did at Microsoft. Perhaps Apple should back out of areas like cloud computing until it can rock-solidly introduce a new product and know that customers will have a terrific experience when they use it, and not just look at it. Now is the time for Apple to let go of the driving need to control and grow up to meet the responsibilities it faces.