Since learning how to use a computer, I've been fascinated by the sheer loyalty and god-like devotion that Apple founder Steve Jobs enjoys among a group of Filipino Mac users and other fanatics around the world. I find this behavior extremely puzzling and, to be quite honest, silly.
A recent issue of Forbes magazine, with a theme focusing on the philanthropic activities of the richest IT moguls, validated this assumption. In a survey, it showed Jobs as the only tech tycoon who did not share even a single cent of his millions--proving all along that he has become the greedy and arrogant guy he has depicted of his main rival Bill Gates.
From the outset, let me say that I am not a Mac user. This may help explain why I don't probably know what runs in the mind of a Mac fanatic. As in most people, the steep price of Apple products prevented me from owning one and transforming into a hardcore Mac user.
It's ironic that Jobs has been mocking Gates for the longest time because of the perceived weaknesses of Windows compared to Apple products. But if you come to think of it, it's actually Apple who's more proprietary since you can't buy Apple software and hardware separately.
Jobs isn't acknowledging it but the truth is that the iPod's popularity only soared when Apple opened it up for Windows users. And why did Apple have to put out BootCamp if it deemed Windows as an inferior product?
Some people have branded Microsoft's Gates as a marketing genius rather than a technology innovator. I believe that description fits Jobs better--remember, it was Steve Wozniak who invented the first Apple machine and Jobs' task then was to promote it.
I'm not exactly a fan of Microsoft, but it's clear the strategy adopted by Gates contributed more to the IT industry than the one made by Jobs. By keeping its technology affordable to most people, Microsoft reaped huge monetary rewards along the way, making Apple green with envy.
In the Forbes list, the money donated by Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, amounted to US$30 billion--a staggering figure that further highlights the difference between his and Jobs' zero contribution to charity.
That situation is somewhat reflected here in the Philippines. Microsoft's local subsidiary--for whatever purposes it may have--has numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives across the country in areas such as education and training. On the other hand, Apple, which does not even have an office here, is concerned only with selling its sleek products to the affluent sector of the society.
But as noted by Leander Kahney in his column in Wired Magazine, Jobs may have, after all, opted to become silent on his philanthropic pursuits and not announce it for the whole world to know. But for a man known as a design maven and leading figure in the technology industry, Jobs certainly chose a wrong PR strategy and model for other young businessmen to follow.