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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Steve Jobs, musicians and technology

October 8, 2011 at 9:23 PM

Did Steve Jobs change your life?

Think about it: do you store any of your music on an iPod or Apple product? Do you compose or arrange music using any kind of Apple computer?

Over the days since Steve Jobs' untimely death on Wednesday, I've pondered the spontaneous outpouring of appreciation for his life and work, and I think it runs deeper than simple gratitude for the fine products made by Apple. 

Steve Jobs

One would think that people in the United States value incompetence over competence. Our entertainment tends to celebrate the mediocre and disdain artistic achievements that could be considered "elite." We put fewer and fewer resources toward the education of the nation's children, who increasingly live in poverty. Our politics and media chase scandal and peripheral issues, rarely delving into the substance of our national problems, prompting those overseas to indict us for our anti-intellectualism. Our economy of late is gamed toward short-term gain over long-term prosperity and wellness.

Yet Steve Jobs seemed to represent the opposite of all that.

The Onion may have said it best in responding to Jobs' death with the headline: Last American Who Knew What The F*** He Was Doing Dies. (The Onion didn't use the asterisks, in case you are considering clicking that link at work.)

A great many of us long for excellence, sophistication and even a simple devotion to service, in any aspect of our lives. Imagine, someone who is simply trying to make the best product possible, to serve you well. No scam to rip you off, no corners cut. Why do Mac users show a weird devotion to their computer products? Those Apple computers are some of the few things in life that serve, that deliver -- no catch.

So I dedicate this week's vote to Steve Jobs, and you are welcome to voice anything you'd like to in his memory in the space below.

From julie Littleton
Posted on October 8, 2011 at 11:03 PM

I use a windows phone to find info on music and other things.  But l have always had a Mac computer right now we live out in the country where there is no internet.  Sad to hear of such a man dying.

From Jim Hastings
Posted on October 9, 2011 at 12:00 AM

In early 1996, soon before I went into business for myself, I had some basic Mac training.  Although I went the Windows route once I was on my own, a lot of the Mac training carried over well and made the journey faster and less strenuous than it would have been without this background.

So the work of Steve Jobs definitely made a positive difference in my life.  Thanks to him, although music arranging on computer is also something I do in Windows, it isn't nearly as tough as I thought it would be.  RIP, Steve -- I don't doubt you're in a better place now.

From Paul Deck
Posted on October 9, 2011 at 12:06 AM

I've never owned an Apple product.  Nevertheless one can only stand in awe of Steve Jobs's genius as an innovator and his commitment to a far-reaching vision.

From marjory lange
Posted on October 9, 2011 at 2:15 AM

 I no longer own a mac, so do everything on windows (our campus is a pc campus; I'd prefer mac, but it's too hard to go against the flow).

My mac was THE best computer I've ever owned.

From Tobias Seyb
Posted on October 9, 2011 at 6:51 AM

I am not impressed by the i*** hype, as I commented in another related blog. And, for the good it does to the world - Apple has some ways to get the consumer inside a consuming spiral (the only reason they don't support my great 2005 power mac any more is to make more money out of me. That's business, but not consumer friendly.)

Long before the shiny toys with the "i" in the name Apple computers have always been number one in the creative world. In the 90s every decent recording, video or graphic studio used macs. That did more for music than the ipod and iTunes. The ipod stands not only for accessability of music, but also for the fact that the want for decent playback quality is almost forgotten. 20 ys ago most music listeners had decent speakers and an amplifier. Nowadays most music is squeezed thru tiny holes in cell phones or notebooks, or in in-ear-plugs.

Steve Jobs was no angel, he was a businessman. Businessmen make money. I was a longtime Apple user and -fan. During the last years he transformed Apple into Big Brother (like facebook etc.), and it's not the "think different" - company it used to be.

But my white 2001 iBook still works perfectly as a music server in my living room...

From Gene Wie
Posted on October 9, 2011 at 8:11 AM

I use a variety if iPad apps for rhythm training, ear training, theory, and recording for students of all ages and ability levels. I tote a Macbook Air laptop with me almost everywhere so I can do work on the go. It's the best laptop I've ever owned, and runs everything from Sibelius and ProTools to Photoshop and Starcraft II. My school students have access to music workstations with iMacs, MIDI keyboard controllers, and recording hardware.

I grew up putting together my own PC's, and currently have a fantastic PC with a blazing video card and gobs of memory at home I use for playing games. My preferred phone currently runs Google's Android OS. However, when it comes to computers for music production and education, Apple products are light-years ahead of their competition, and when their competitors finally understand that it isn't about the number of features or the speed of the machine but a total package that gives the end-user a compelling experience then they might have a chance at really competing.

Until then, they can settle for making second-rate copies of Apple's products, kind of like how some violinists settle for being a second-rate Heifetz instead of striving to be a first-rate version of themselves.

From steve newman
Posted on October 9, 2011 at 3:42 PM

  re Steve Jobs-

   I use my Windows pc daily for music. 

1- band-in-a-box  for play-along and for creating leadsheets.

2- amazing slowdowner-  for playing  music at any tempo and key of my choice.

3-youtube for hearing recordings of music that i'm studying and for online lessons.

4- audio to mp3 - for capturing youtube music to an mp3 file

5- Finale to make  quallty print  versions of music that i customize for my plalying

    (change of key, or instrumentation, etc)

6- websites-

     IMSLP  for public domain classical sheet music

    Wikifonia- for popular music lead sheets

     amazon- for buying download mp3s.



 All the apps that i use are very valuable to my musical activity and i am grateful that they exist.  None of these apps are directly linked to Steve Jobs or Apple other than the role they played in the overall development of personal pcs.  I have stuck with' windows over apple mainly because i can do everything i need on pcs and they are much less expensive than apple products.--


From bill platt
Posted on October 9, 2011 at 5:18 PM

Apple's core market in the 1990s was graphic designers. Interestingly, they even had a good engineering and science customer base coming into the 90s, but they completely forsook them by the end of the 90s. Hospitals and engineering colleges dropped the Mac like a hot potato when it became clear that nobody wanted to develop software on the apple platform, and the performance per dollar of the intel systems was much higher and customizable.

Apple's core market in the 2000s is button-pushers: people who are incapable, voluntarily or otherwise, of learning what technical options exist and making decisions. Apple is all about the *package.*  "Buy a Mac and we take care of you, you don't have to worry about anything."  That was their primary marketing strategy and it showed when you saw who used Macs. Engineers used PCs for the most part because they are more efficient moneywise, are easily customizable and have at least an order of magnitude more software options.  As it is the software, not the hardware, that the user interacts with, it is pretty obvious that the savvy computer user has always eschewed the relatively closed shop of Apple for the free and unfettered "wide west" of the open systems, Windows primarily and Linux/unix etc secondarily but frequently for server applications.

I have never spent a single dollar of my own money on any Apple product, ever. My son received an ipod touch for Christmas one year, and had over $30 of movies stolen from him by Apple. The machine was really quite clever and interesting. The "apps" business on ipod/iphone is ironic, because it is the first time in a long long time that Apple has had a product which actually encourages developers and has become a preferred platform. And yet, the tools are not useful enough for me to shell out hundreds of dollars on them. I know how to read the yellow pages, I can read a map, I know which way north is and I have no trouble finding good restaurants :-)

From Tony Boone
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 3:23 AM

No, in response to the question posed.

"1999: The first mp3 player

In the early 1990s, Frauenhofer developed the first, however, unsuccessful MP3 player. In 1997, developer Tomislav Uzelac of Advanced Multimedia Products invented the AMP MP3 Playback Engine, the first successful MP3 player. Two university students, Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev ported AMP to Windows and created Winamp. In 1998, Winamp became a free MP3 music player boosting the success of MP3. No licensing fees are required to use an MP3 player."

And Steve Jobs had nothing to do with it.

From Tony Boone
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 3:52 AM

I had a client bring a Mac Book to me that a friend of his grandson had spilled a glass of beer on during some horse play at his university frat house. They had sent it to Apple for evaluation and repair and then had me look at it.

The motherboard was oxidized and likely had shorted out since it was on when it received the beer bath. I priced a new motherboard for it and the cost was more than that of the entire laptop. If it had been a PC laptop motherboard I could have purchased it for $200-$250 my cost.

Money is the bottom line with Apple, not customer service\satisfaction.

From Gene Wie
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 4:20 AM

Almost, except your PC laptop is an 8+ pound monstrosity with a 2 hour battery life. Of course it's not a problem to get an inexpensive standardized part for something that's already pretty big to begin with, with parts shared across multiple manufacturers.

Replacing the motherboard in a Macbook Air or similar is a much more costly and time-consuming undertaking because of the relatively high degree of component integration. The tradeoff is that you have a 2.8 pound laptop that fits in a space the thickness of a manila envelope, and runs for 8+ hours on a single charge.

Prior to teaching music I was a software developer and while I've always liked my PC desktops at home, the Apple laptops have always won out on the road.

From Tony Boone
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 4:29 AM

Taking a Mac Book apart and taking a PC laptop apart are pretty much an identical process. I know because I've done both. My laptop isn't a boat anchor either, but be it far from me to deprive you of the Apple Kool-Aid.

From Andrei Pricope
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 12:26 PM

For Tony: Apple and consumer satisfaction...

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) today released its latest results on U.S. consumer satisfaction in the personal computer industry, with Apple topping the charts for the eighth consecutive year and setting a new company high for ratings.

Apple’s record of customer satisfaction preeminence in the personal computer industry continues unabated in 2011, as the company adds another point to its already exceptional score. At 87 (+1%), Apple outdistances its nearest competitor by 9 points. 

“In the eight years that Apple has led the PC industry in customer satisfaction, its stock price has increased by 2,300%,” remarks Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference. “Apple’s winning combination of innovation and product diversification—including spinning off technologies into entirely new directions—has kept the company consistently at the leading edge.”

Apple's score of 87 rose by one point over last year's score of 86 that had been its previous record high in the survey. This marks the third straight year that Apple has held a nine-point lead over its nearest competitor in the industry."


From bill platt
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Because MAcintosh is now Intel powered, they are now finding some market in the windoze world--people who appreciate the physical design and are willing to pay a premium for it.  I have met a few people who are using mac laptops without the macintosh OS.  I am too cheap to go that way--yet.

From Tony Boone
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 7:28 PM

I'll take a PC, laptop or desktop, with a four or eight core processor and at least 8 gigs of ram that I can repair myself, if necessary, with parts that are reasonably priced. There is something wrong with a business model that makes it cost prohibitive for a customer to repair a laptop because the motherboard costs more than the entire laptop did new.

From Andrei Pricope
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 7:58 PM

Tony, Apple's "wrong business model" accounts for their 38% growth year-to-year, compared with 4.2% for the PC market. Additionally, iPads account for 97% of tablet web use and overwhelming adoption rates among Fortune 500 companies, and they just had over 1 million iPhone 4S orders in 24 hours. I'd love that kind of "wrong" model, wouldn't you?!?


Why is it that everybody and their dog (RIM, HP, Motorola, Sony, Acer, etc.) are trying to come out with Apple-killer products only to fall short, flat, and bite the dust??? The ones that are courageous enough to release numbers only mention "shipped" not "sold" units, whereas demand for Apple products is going through the roof in EVERY category... Why exactly do you think that is?

I travel to Europe every year. Berlin, London, etc. – Apple strongholds, as people know quality, reliability, and leading customer support, regardless of price... I'm sure PCs rule in Bulgaria, though... :)

From Tony Boone
Posted on October 10, 2011 at 10:38 PM

Apple's growth isn't my concern and I'm not on earth to promote that growth by purchasing their latest overpriced shiny bobble made in communist China. Anything I need to do with a computer I can do on a PC that I build for roughly 25-40% of the cost of an Apple computer. That includes running Adobe Creative Suite 5 and all other similarly classed programs.

And if I wanted a smart phone I'd opt for the Android platform.

"Android Overtakes IPhone" November 1, 2010
"Google Inc.’s Android platform has taken the lead in the U.S. smartphone market, according to several new reports by technology research firms."

As far as tablets are concerned I bought a Nook Color about a year ago for $249 and "rooted" it making it a full blown Android tablet. It doesn't have a camera but I have Nikon DSLRs if I want to take a picture.

From Gene Wie
Posted on October 11, 2011 at 2:01 AM

Tony, you just have different priorities.

Like the person who settles for a Chinese workshop fiddle or an inexpensive carbon fiber bow, you've obviously made cost one of the primary things you consider before attributes like portability and hardware/software integration.

Far from being stuck with any one platform, the smart thing to do is to use the best tool for the job. My custom-built web servers run debian (linux) on stock hardware. My home desktop machine runs Windows, because that's what the gamer in me requires. My cell phone runs Android, rooted and running Cyanogen which offers a much more usable device. Finally, my laptop is a Macbook Air, because in my line of work I need *portability*, an 8+ hour battery life, and the ability to get things done in ProTools, Sibelius, Xcode, and Eclipse.

From Lawrence Kallus
Posted on October 11, 2011 at 3:14 AM

 I would like to insert some revolutionary thoughts into this discussion that have an only indirect bearing on the technical discussions above.    And that is the decision of not only Job but just about all the other electronics manufacturers, to manufacture their products overseas.     Of course money is the reason as well as other real and/or imaginary impediments to low cost manufacturing in the United States,   With unemployment running at nine percent plus,  and China slowly but inexorably allowing the value of its currency to increase in value,   how about we start to manufacture iPods, iMacs, Dells and HPs in the US again.    

From Tobias Seyb
Posted on October 11, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Apple bashing like in the good old days. Go on, guys, I'm having fun...

From bill platt
Posted on October 11, 2011 at 8:19 PM

Apple makes computers, tablets, dedicated mp3 players, and cellular phones.

Each of these markets is distinct from the others. There is overlap, but only somewhat.

Some people have an iphone but won't bother with a mac computer. Others vie versa. As Gene shows, it is specific to the individual's situation.

Overall though, Apple is doing well in all of their categories for the same reason: they create a package, an overall design, which appears to be "easy" to use. This is sometimes not really true, but people believe it. And people buy Apple products so thet don't have to do what Tony does--design their own systems.

Most people in the world are button-pushers, not engineers, and so Apple's business model will succeed in the general marketplace, as long as their products satisfy the consumers' needs.

The "apple killer" business is chasing rather than leading. But there will be something which surpasses apple someday. Now that Jobs is gone, we'll see how long they last.

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