Dissing Apple, Loving Steve

6 October 2011 at 5:51 am 8 comments

| Peter Klein |

Like so many others, I was deeply saddened to learn today about the passing of Steve Jobs. Jobs was a great entrepreneur, a visionary, a social benefactor. Business leaders like Steve Jobs  do more good for humanity than most of the do-gooders put together.

In memory of Steve, Apple fans are sharing their memories of Apple products, listing how many Macs they’ve owned, reminiscing about their first Apple II the way they talk about their first kiss. I’m not one of those. Indeed, I don’t much care for Apple products. I used an Apple II as a teenager, and currently own an iPad, the only Apple product I’ve ever bought. Steve Jobs made a particular kind of device — beautiful, specialized, simple to operate, but expensive, impossible to customize, frustrating to use if you want to use it in a different way than Steve intended. That’s fine — à chacun son goût. Isn’t that the beauty of capitalism? Markets aren’t winner-take all. Neither Steve Jobs nor Bill Gates nor Linus Torvalds nor anyone else decided what products we all should use and made us use them. We didn’t vote for our favorite computer or music player or phone, then all get the one that 51% of the voters preferred. No, we can all have the goods and services we like.

I don’t like Apple products, but I love the fact that other people like them, and that people like Steve Jobs provided them. R.I.P.

Addendum: Steve Horwitz makes the same point.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Classical Liberalism, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Public Policy / Political Economy.

Schumptoberfest Anita McGahan at Missouri

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Avi Mulye  |  6 October 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Prof. Peter,

    I am using your following quote as my Facebook status update –

    Business leaders like Steve Jobs do more good for humanity than most of the do-gooders put together.

  • 2. Anonymous  |  7 October 2011 at 5:33 pm


    A great innovator, but more good for humanity?

  • 3. C. Ahlstrom  |  8 October 2011 at 7:42 pm

    “Neither Steve Jobs nor Bill Gates nor Linus Torvalds nor anyone else decided what products we all should use and made us use them.”

    Actually, Bill Gates did… just try going to a store and buying a Mac or Linux box. The actions of Microsoft are well documented.

    Of course, Steve Jobs offered an alternative for those who wish to pay a lot more for their hardware, and Linus Torvalds offered an alternative for those willing to risk their warranty and install an alternative operating system. For that, I thank them (especially Linus). But only a small percentage of people are willing to go over those “small” hurdles to avoid Windows.

  • 4. Peter Klein  |  8 October 2011 at 10:27 pm

    No, actually, Bill Gates didn’t. Note that I’m using “made” in the dictionary sense of “coerce,” as in the government “making” you pay its taxes and fees, not the euphemistic sense of contemporary competition policy, where it means “failing to offer exactly the products certain buyers want at exactly the prices they want to pay.”

  • 5. C.Ahlstrom  |  9 October 2011 at 7:26 am

    Whaaa? “Antitrust” means /nothing/ to you?

  • 6. Peter Klein  |  9 October 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Sure, it means a lot — a lot of horribly designed, inefficient, arbitrary, and grossly unfair rules to protect politically connected, failing firms from competition.

  • 7. Michael Marotta  |  9 October 2011 at 10:08 pm

    ” … a lot of horribly designed, inefficient, arbitrary, and grossly unfair rules to protect politically connected, failing firms from competition.”

    Actually, Doctor Klein, you seem not to know the full truth. As a criminologist and advocate for capitalism, I subscribe to the emails from the DoJ Anti-Trust division. They send people to prison for violating their rules. Inefficient, politically-connected competitors are not necessary. The bureaucrats do well on their own, persecuting people for pricing things like thin-film liquid crystal displays and digital television that did not exist at all only a few years ago. LCD in particular was accidentally discovered as a fat in carrot juice c. 1920. Go to a public auction and discuss the lots with the guy next to you and you are guilty of collusion. They will seize your assets and squeeze you until your lawyer tells you to confess. No one ever mounts an ideological defense like an Ayn Rand hero. They all plead guilty. And become press releases.

    But that is another topic entirely.

    We were paying tribute to Steve Jobs.

  • 8. How Apple incorporated lifestyle with technology  |  16 January 2012 at 11:21 am

    […] Credits: organizationsandmarkets.com […]

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