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FROM THIS EPISODE

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.

I'm a geek at heart. Though I can't think in flash, and I've never spoken HTML, I've eagerly anticipated the arrival of new hardware devices. The promise of potential gets me each and every time. Yearning for greater efficiency, I buy into the marketing, hoping for seamless interaction and weightless navigation. More often than not, I'm disappointed by the incompatibilities and limitations that manufacturers fail to reveal.

So I must tell you, the announcement and demonstration of the new Apple iPhone gets me very excited. It's game changing.

Mr. Jobs and Apple Computers, now renamed Apple Inc, seem to understand what was at stake. With a leading brand like Apple representing computers, music devices, video and photo players, it was necessary, even imperative, to create a competitive cell phone. Without a mobile phone device, the Apple brand would remain limited. Limited and vunerable, for any other manufacturer to whittle away at Apple's uniqueness in computing and music replay. And computing and music replay built the Apple brand to where it is today.

But Apple did deliver, and the landscape has just changed. Apple trumped Apple and we'll never go back to those silly inefficiencies again.

In the never-ending shoot-out at the OK corral, between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, Apple clearly took the win yesterday. This year the MACWorld Expo was held in San Francisco at the same time as the highly touted Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. On Monday, Bill Gates gave the Keynote address in Vegas at the massive CES conference and the press must have been snoozing because nary a peep was heard. Yesterday, Steve Jobs, practically from his living room in San Francisco, announces the iPhone and it makes the cover of the New York Times. Steve Jobs is the true Willy Wonka, PT Barnum and The Wizard of Oz rolled up in one.

He understands how to build a buzz and deliver a crescendo better than most rock stars.

Poor Microsoft. Their own mobile-music device, Zune, was launched like a second-rate B movie. No buzz, no hip ness, just a nice spread of advertising dollars aimed at a core demographic that wasn't interested. Their marketing strategy failed miserably. Zune couldn't even capture one spot on the top-10 list of best-device sales this Christmas. For Microsoft, the largest software manufacturer in the world, this is not good news. Still Bill Gates announced Monday that they had a vision for Zune, and big plans lay head. I guess more will be revealed.

There will always be those who argue that Steve Jobs is a marketing genius, but Apple and Microsoft are really just the same. Steve Jobs may in fact be one of the world's greatest marketing executives. Market leaders offer something others do not, and Apple has consistently shown everyone else in the hardware business what the potential of meeting consumer demand really looks like.

Now, five months away from delivery, the country will fixate on just how amazing this new phone/computer/music-player/camera really is. Let's hope the darn thing works!

This is Celia Hirschman with On the Beat for KCRW.


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