Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve "Mac"Queen

The world lost a rock star of a different kind yesterday. Steve Jobs spent his entire adult life predicting how humans would, could, and should interact with computer technology, and what started out as the “cult of the Mac” eventually morphed into a mainstream, new-agey religion 25 years later. (At the time of Jobs’ death, Apple had more money in the bank than the US government’s operating budget.)

There are at least two connections between Queen and Apple that I can recall:

1) Brian is a self-confessed long-time Mac user, although his frustrations about a new MacBook Pro did cast some doubt on his loyalty to Apple as this blog entry reveals.

2) The other convergence between Queen and Apple came when the entire Queen catalogue was eventually available on iTunes. 

Personally, I waited for what seemed like an eternity to see Queen albums on the iTunes Store and got quite annoyed when I saw their songs being recorded and sold through tribute bands there . . . but I couldn’t buy any Queen originals? I began to wonder what the problem was. Obviously, negotiations between Apple and Queen’s record labels took time given the enormity of their back catalogue.

My prayers were answered, so to speak, when their full catalogue was released on iTunes shortly after the Beatles catalogue was launched through iTunes. (Apple Records and Apple Computers -- now there’s an interesting case study of intellectual property rights.) I must admit, though, seeing Queen songs marketed through iTunes is a very different experience than how it was back in the day -- the album art, song order, and even the smell of the packaging played a role in the listening experience.

There are a few parallels between Apple and Queen that go without saying. Both were pioneers in their respective disciplines; their leaders pushed the envelope in everything they did. If Apple was famous for producing both the hardware and software, Brian is equally famous for building his own hardware and composing software for it, too.

One last comparison . . . 

Like Queen, Apple has lost its visionary leader. Can they continue on without Steve Jobs? I’m sure there will be some purists that feel that Apple will never be the same company without Jobs, just like certain Queen fans who feel the Queen name should have been retired long ago since Freddie can’t be replaced. Both entities have had an amazing history and both have left an indelible mark in either pop culture or technoculture.

It’s rumoured that there are at least ten years’ worth of new Apple products on the drawing board that Jobs had a hand in developing before his death, so we shouldn’t expect Apple to slow down anytime soon. Perhaps there are still some unreleased Queen recordings with Freddie that will also see the light of day.


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