We all know Google’s mission statement: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” (Google: Company Overview). Amazon has a vision statement that you may have encountered: “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” (Amazon: Corporate FAQ’s). I bet you did not know that Apple has a ‘sort of’ mission statement on its investor relations pages:
“Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.”
That doesn’t get me too far. It sounds more like an overly-potted history than a mission statement, it is also somewhat out of date, since it doesn’t even mention the latest revolutionary step: the iPad. I subscribe to the view that Apple has incredibly ambitious goals which it probably does not even articulate to itself. It is determined to invent and own the high end of consumer computing, which is going to be the only safe place for a computer manufacturer to be in five years time (see Charlie Stross on “The Real Reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash”, or as John Gruber has it ‘The iPad really is The Big One: Apple’s reconception of personal computing’ from “This is how Apple rolls”).
So Apple’s mission may be so audacious that it would be unwise to articulate it fully. But it may also have crafted its trajectory in such a way that it does not become too obviously monopolistic. Apple wants to revolutionize the world of personal computing (that is what Jobs and Wozniack did first time around in the 1970s) and yet the company does not obviously want to monopolize the market. Carving out the high-end, deluxe end, of the consumer market should be enough. Is that the way that publishing will work in the future? There will be a high-end platform for those who like to buy into Apple standards, and a more chaotic, Android, world of confused standards where stuff is cheaper, where there is more stuff and wilder stuff (including Flash and porn) but perhaps also less reliability and consistency?