We owe a large debt to Apple

Israelis will have to wait a little longer for iPhones and iPads.

iPad Apple tech 311 (photo credit: AP)
iPad Apple tech 311
(photo credit: AP)
It looks like Israelis will have to wait a little longer for their newest i-devices.
The iPhone 4 and the iPad, the latest stars in the i-world, are not set to land here anytime soon, if news reports and official spokespeople are to be believed.
LG, one of the main companies that makes the displays for the iPads, said it has been unable to keep up with the “incredible demand” by Apple for displays, as it sells more and more of the devices. (LG says it may not catch up with its production of the 9.7-inch LED glossy touch screens until next year!) Israel does not have an official Apple Store; the company is less committed to providing products to consumers here. Even though content (apps, specifically) are now available at Israel’s iTunes store (which means there is a reason for consumers here to buy iPads and iPhones), there is still no way to buy “creative content” – music, movies, TV shows and books (indeed, Apple’s book store, for use with the iBooks app, is currently available only in the US).
It’s safe to say that for now, the only way for Israelis to get their own iPads is to journey to North America, several countries in Europe, or a couple of choice destinations in the Far East, and make their purchases there. While they last, that is: The number of units available is likely to dry up soon, as remaining stocks are sold. (In many major US markets you have to wait a couple of weeks from the time you order and the time you get your iPad.) What about the iPhone 4? That device, too, is experiencing a parts shortage that will affect supplies here at home – except that in this case, the shortage is the phone itself! After announcing (yet again) record sales and profits a few days ago, an Apple spokesperson said the company was way behind on supplies of the new iPhones, too, despite the brouhaha over its antenna.
According to the spokesperson, Apple is selling iPhones (and iPads) as fast as they come off the assembly line, and its factories (in China) are working overtime to meet demand.
Once again, Israel is likely to be at the back of the worldwide line when it comes to getting supplies of iPhone 4 devices. And the recent update of the iPhone’s operating system makes it much harder to jailbreak/unlock the iPhone 4, meaning it’s unlikely you’ll be seeing many of them in the hands of local customers anytime soon.
One rumor that has been sweeping the land (at least some parts of it) – that at least one Israeli cellphone company is expecting the device in September and plans to offer iPhone 3gs customers a free (or very cheap) upgrade to the iPhone 4 – is, as far as I can tell (and as confirmed by a higher-up in the company), completely false.
But don’t get me wrong; I’m not joining the increasing masses of computer journalists/ bloggers who are unleashing the vitriol they once reserved for Microsoft on the new “enemy of the people.” That there’s such a shortage of Apple products, it seems to me, is a clear sign of how good they are. And my description of the situation here in Israel is a form of wishful thinking: that somehow these issues will get resolved, and we, too, will have an opportunity to acquire the latest and greatest Apple products.
Not everyone is so enamored of Apple these days, however. There’s been much gloating by some writers over every pitfall, such as the iPhone 4 antenna issue, which Apple boss Steve Jobs addressed in a press conference a couple of weeks ago. It seems that if you hold the device in a certain way, the iPhone loses some of its connectivity; so Jobs announced a series of steps addressing the issue, including a software update and a free case for every phone owner (the idea being that the case prevents users from holding the device incorrectly).
You could picture the writers of some articles and blog posts rubbing their hands with glee, as they described the problem and anticipated the imminent bankruptcy of Apple. Whatever the motivations of these writers – simple jealousy, antibusiness (i.e., socialist) sympathies, envy that they didn’t think of some of the great ideas Apple did, or shilling for Apple’s competitors – more and more writers feel it’s okay to put Apple down. Each day brings a new supply of nasty articles.
Personally, I think they’re way off base. Many of the features of digital life we take for granted today were unthinkable – or at least thought to be unfeasible – before Apple trailblazed the way. Of course, there were MP3 players before the iPod, but with the iPod came iTunes and the iTunes store, a development that arguably did a great deal to save the commercial music business, ensuring there would be something to play on those MP3 players.
Apple’s Mac operating system, from its earliest days, has been the gadfly that inspired improvements to other major operating systems (i.e., Windows); without the iPhone, it’s doubtful we would have Nokia, Samsung and other smartphones, and we certainly wouldn’t have the wide range of Android phones we do today (why would HTC, LG and Samsung have bothered?).
And now comes the tablet revolution. Apple didn’t invent the tablet with its iPad. But so far, all other attempts to push tablets by tech companies have been flops. What’s the secret behind the iPad’s success? The same secret Apple has used to promote its other products: build an ecosystem that works, make it easy for users to use the product, keep control over the operating system to ensure a solid user experience, and – most importantly – make sure there’s plenty of content. It’s a system that works, and bully for Apple that they thought of it first.
Yes, we’ve all heard (and will no doubt hear yet again) the naysayers’ arguments: It’s a closed system, Apple/Jobs is a “control freak,” Apple stifles competition, the company makes or breaks fortunes by keeping developers out of the App Store, they put DRM into their iTunes store products, etc. All good points.
Now here’s a “talking point” for the naysayers (and the rest of us): One day someone is going to figure out what Apple’s contribution to the gross domestic product of the United States is: how much the sales of Macs, iPods, iPhones, iPads, music, movies and all the other stuff Apple sells contributes to the bottom line of the US. How much do you think that might be?