Corporate Scotsmanhood

19 Mar 2023

Apple is only really Apple when they put the user first.

The above phrase leapt out at me when reading a recent Daring Fireball post, and it’s a pithy distillation of a common sentiment amongst Apple aficionados. However, I think that sentiment is mistaken, or at least off the mark. It’s a corporate variation of the true Scotsman fallacy.

Apple is really Apple by definition. Tim Cook’s Apple is no less the real Apple than Steve Job’s, or John Sculley’s, or Gil Amelio’s1. Fundamentally, the company that compromises user experience in the name of services revenue is the same company that created the iPhone, the Mac, and the apple ][ (not to mention the Newton, the Mac Classic and the Apple III).

From another perspective, though, they’re different companies. Corporations aren’t people, but like people they change over time. The Apple of 1977, or 1984, or 2007, is not the Apple of 2023. Moreover, it’s reasonable to compare today’s Apple to those previous incarnations, for better or worse.

This suggests an alternate framing of the sentiment above. Apple is always really Apple, but it’s only the best Apple when it puts the user first. That’s a sentiment I can get behind.

  1. Ask your parents. [back]

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