Henry Brown, '23
During his short life, Steve Jobs founded not one, not two, but three legendary companies. Pixar continues to be light years ahead of all other studios with their computer animation software, producing such classics as Wall-E, Ratatouille, and Coco. NeXT, Jobs’s brainchild after his resignation from Apple, paved the way for today’s MacOS. And Apple, the world’s second most valuable company and inventor of the iPhone, has every teenager glued to their screen for hours each day. Yet, Apple remains the gem of Silicon Valley.
You see, in our increasingly digital world, Apple has doubled-down on its approach to broaden the Apple Store’s functionality. The company’s "Creative Studios" program, announced in June 2021, aims to provide “career-building mentorship” to young people from underrepresented communities. Through face-to-face classes in stores, these students can learn to use Apple products to create music, films, and photography. None of the “Big Five” (Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft) has a greater opportunity to effect positive change than Apple, and the company has certainly taken action.
As a child, though I was not involved in any of these programs, the chrome walls and glowing apple at the end of Bethesda Row always beckoned me to tug my parents inside. I routinely played Angry Birds on the iPhone 6. As such, Apple has cultivated a strikingly approachable environment, whether in its stores, through introducing budget iPhones, or reviving the oh-so popular ports on the MacBook.
To call me a Craig Federighi fan would not do justice. Federighi—my idol, my mentor, my obsession—is Apple’s VP of Software Engineering and the world’s best stage performer. Since his miserable Face ID fail at the introduction of the iPhone X, I always anticipate Craig’s next elaborate demonstration at Apple’s annual developers conference (check out Craig teleporting here). Despite Apple’s seemingly fixed hardware design, despite Spotify overshadowing Apple Music, and despite its pathetic word processing application Pages, the company’s infamous ecosystem is Apple’s redeeming quality. By Federighi’s design, iOS and MacOS are rooted in simplicity and convenience, allowing cross-platform usage of services. You can text from your Mac, copy and paste works between devices, and, above all, you can AirDrop. Plus, Apple reliably updates its design to keep it modern and uncomplicated; each new update introduces new wallpapers, redesigned app icons, and greater interconnectivity.
Apple has pushed into the services market as well. The success of Apple TV+ in particular has shocked the streaming industry, especially because Apple, unlike Netflix, Hulu, or Disney Plus, had no content in its library. However, the iPhone producer’s shows and movies have been of stellar quality and enjoyable thus far—far more than most Netflix originals. Top picks include For All Mankind, Defending Jacob, and Ted Lasso. I often wonder if Apple mandates use of its phenomenal video production application, iMovie (or Final Cut Pro).
The company is also a trailblazer on environmental and health-related issues. Apple first announced that it would rely on only renewable energy back in 2012. Now, Apple promises that all aspects of the supply chain, from manufacturing to in-store purchases, will be carbon-neutral by 2030. Lisa Jackson, former director of the EPA and Tim Cook’s go-to advisor on climate policy, says that over 110 suppliers have “come along on the journey to clean energy and carbon neutrality.” The Big Five are all leaders in climate policy, but Apple continues to demonstrate that cooperation is necessary (and possible) to tackle humanity’s greatest challenge. Additionally, the Apple Watch, with blood oxygen sensors, fall detection, and its ability to take electrocardiograms, helps thousands of Americans discover medical problems well before they become an issue. Each update sends the Apple Watch even further ahead of its competition, which is something the iPhone, sadly, cannot boast.
Is Apple truly the best? If it isn’t, it’s pretty close. I didn’t even mention features of iMessage, the ease of connecting AirPods, privacy, or that Apple is destroying the College Board day-by-day (link). Technology has engulfed our lives. We can either resist it, a herculean task, or we can embrace it. Apple is our path to a better world, both physical and technological. So let’s follow it.
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