Ross Rubin at Engadget has figured out the answer that has been on everyone’s mind for the last 9.5 years: Why has Jobs’ “digital hub strategy died.”
Seriously, what mindset made Ross decide to write this half-cocked proclamation? There are many problems with this article, starting with a title that presumes that the PC is no longer a digital hub. Simply put, people haven’t stopped managing their music, photos, and videos on their PCs.
Bringing up the failure of devices used in a nearly decade old slideshow is also remarkably misleading. Example:
The presentation was rife with references that are amusing with a decade of hindsight, one in which Apple has received more attention for its work in advancing popular digital spokes. For example, in pointing out some peripheral devices that will connect to the digital hub, Jobs showed the Rio flash-based MP3 player as well as the Palm V, both of which would succumb to Apple’ own iPod and iPhone.
First of all, the demise of the Palm V had nothing to do with the iPhone or the hub strategy. Second, having successful hub devices helped more than hurt the PC as a hub. iTunes didn’t become the number music software without the iPod.
Rubin’s announcement also promotes the misleading idea that the hub is an all or nothing endgame as if people are completely replacing their PCs with cloud connected thin client devices.
In the 2001 presentation, Jobs argued that the Mac and iMovie software made the camcorder 10 times more valuable. But a decade later, it’s clear that YouTube has done far more to promote the value of personal video than iMovie, which Apple has now also brought from the desktop to the smartphone.
iMovie, YouTube, and the PC are different types of tools that tend to work in conjunction with each other rather than in competition. One is an editor, the next is a distributor, and last is for management and storage, and all have advanced digital video.
In the end I suspect what he really means is that the hub will gradually focus more on thin devices and the cloud as they mature enough to sufficiently replace many of the PC’s functionalities. That’s not a very eye-catching headline though.