The Gruber Conundrum

The Gruber Conundrum:

Google fans seem to eat this kumbaya stuff up, to really believe it. But Google is the company that built Android after the iPhone, Google Plus after Facebook

I don’t think anyone understands Apple and has finger on the pulse of how it moves like John Gruber at Daring Fireball.

But what’s equally interesting is just how disconnected he can be at times about other tech brands – perhaps Google especially. He’s so assimilated and in tune with Apple’s way of thinking that he almost can’t conceive how another company may have a different philosophy.

It’s an interesting perspective in journalism today, where so many are generalists afraid to commit too heartily to an opinion too extreme in one direction.

Can you sustain the kind of virtuoso understanding that someone like Gruber has on Apple and still be able to relate to other companies in the same way? I think a range of writers come close but maintaining the mental dissonance of those different perspectives perhaps stops them reaching the same consistent depth and insight as these rare specialists.

- Max Tatton-Brown

May 17th, 2013

  • andrewkylim

    Why do you think he’s disconnected?

  • http://MaxTB.com Max Tatton-Brown

    It’s like he literally can’t compute how Google thinks when it comes to the speech at I/O or strategies like Google+.

    Apple’s mission of creating great products is all well and good but I do think the culture at Google perpetuates an attitude of moon shots and trying to use knowledge to change how the world works. Perhaps it’s easier to believe in the pure self-interest of Apple and too hard to overcome scepticism about the Google thing – healthy scepticism, I might add.

  • andrewkylim

    I’m not sure it’s disconnection though, more an opposition to Google’s approach to business. In other words, he seems offended by their strategy not their technology.

  • http://MaxTB.com Max Tatton-Brown

    Sure — I think it’s a bit out of touch though. He has such a comprehensive appreciation of how Apple works that he can’t help but be offended by such a different approach. And when you’re in that far, you can do peerless work about one company but maybe it affects how you can interpret another.

    Or perhaps it’s just a personal thing with him. Either way, find it really interesting to observe and reconcile when I read his stuff.

  • andrewkylim

    Again, I’m not sure that he can’t be objective about Google. The quote you used is a reaction to Page saying he doesn’t want Google to be framed as an enemy but the fact is, it is an enemy of the companies it competes with. I hugely admire some of Google’s tech, specifically Search and Maps, but I find that particular comment by Page disingenuous.

  • http://MaxTB.com Max Tatton-Brown

    So I think this is an interesting discussion too: the media creates all these things as enemies vying off for market share but Google and Apple can happily co-exist. One doesn’t have to die for the other to succeed, like that old Steve Jobs quote.

  • andrewkylim

    If Google wanted to happily co-exist with Apple it wouldn’t create directly competing products.

  • http://MaxTB.com Max Tatton-Brown

    See that’s where I don’t agree – it doesn’t mean leaving a market for someone else to dominate it, it means choosing to compete in the biggest markets in the earth, not insisting on getting 100% market (don’t want to end up like Microsoft and Windows after all…) and innovating and moving things forward.

    Perhaps the reason I believe it is possible for someone like Google to believe it’s doing this is because at Tradeshift we believe we’re doing that. We believe we’re working on something that will be wildly valuable but also drive the status quo forward to benefit tons of people.

    V different market etc but the point is I believe a company can aspire to a greater and more significant “why” — but Gruber is so stuck in the mindset that just building brilliant projects is enough, that he can’t believe it.

  • andrewkylim

    “…choosing to compete in the biggest markets in the earth, not insisting on getting 100% market…” – I don’t see Google giving Search, Maps, Video, etc competitors a break; when Google goes into something, it goes in to win.

  • http://maxtb.com Max Tatton-Brown

    You go in to sustain and gain market share but you don’t have to decimate the opposition to do it – in fact, if you do then you end up like Microsoft in antitrust hell for years!