And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
Now, the thing about [“Meet the Beatles”] was, on the day [the album] hit the U.S. the whole world changed. Like, before that day, the world was one way, music was one way, culture was one way — and then after that day the world was never the same ever again, and as soon as you heard that album you knew that, and even if you were only nine years old, which I was, you just knew. You knew. Sales were crazy.
[…] there was a lot of demand for that record — so much that the plant that printed the records could not keep up. Now here’s the lesson. Do you think the guys who were running Capitol Records said, Gee whiz, the kids are buying up this record at such a crazy pace that our printing plant can’t keep up — we’d better find a way to slow things down. Maybe we can create an incentive that would discourage people from buying the record. Do you think they said that? No, they did not. What they did was, they went out and found another printing plant. And another one and another one, until they could make as many records as people wanted.
Absolutely goddamned right. AT&T’s metaphorical Meet the Beatles response to the iPhone data-deluge seems to be:
“we need to figure out a way to keep people out of record stores. Prevent them from entering, dissuade them from buying the records if they’re already in there. That is the winning formula.”
Which is precisely the reaction that puts AT&T out of business. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon (and for a long time). Back to (fake) Steve:
Yes, 3% of your users are taking up 40% of your bandwidth. You see this as a bad thing. It’s not. It’s a good thing. It’s a blessing. It’s an indication that people love what we’re doing, which means you now have a reason to go out and double or triple or quadruple your damn network capacity. Jesus! I can’t believe I’m explaining this to you. You’re in the business of selling bandwidth. That pipe is what you sell. Right now what the market is telling you is that you can sell even more! Lots more! Good Lord. The world is changing, and you’re right in the sweet spot.
Indeed they are. Reaction? Let’s piss it away for some modest, short-term gains. The model, you’ll recall, is to sell crippled phones that, since people can’t actually use, don’t tax our network at all. AT&T simply doesn’t understand that the world has turned and left them there, in the past, with a shitty flip phones business while everyone else is up here, in the “future,” waiting on good pipes. Praying someone will take their money for those (still mythical) good pipes. That AT&T doesn’t see it that way is mostly because of the sentence to which I added emphasis: AT&T doesn’t want to believe that they are only selling pipe. They think they are selling something else entirely. I’m quite sure they can’t vocalize exactly what that thing is, but they inevitably deny the notion that they are, in fact, already a dumb-pipes company, though a very bad one. And this is why they fail. They think their subscribers care who is providing them with the dumb pipes instead of how well the dumb pipes work. And it is on this point that (fake) Steve really, really gets going:
Guys like you took over the phone company and all you cared about was milking profit and paying off assholes in Congress to fuck over anyone who came along with a better idea, because even though it might be great for consumers it would mean you and your lazy pals would have to get off your asses and start working again in order to keep up.
[…] everyone focused on just getting what they can in the short run and who cares what kind of piece of shit product we’re putting out […and…] it was all about taking all this great shit that our predecessors had built and “unlocking value” which really meant finding ways to leech out whatever bit of money they could get in the short run and let the future be damned. It was all just one big swindle, and the only kind of engineering that matters anymore is financial engineering.
Empahsis added to point out (fake) Steve likely recapitulating the secret mission statement of AT&T. They sell pipes, for chrissakes. And yet they think it is in their interest to restrict and deny people access to those pipes, which said people feel they have contracted for access to and have every right to access. Worse, AT&T seems to feel this is a winning strategy. And maybe it is. For 2009, and even some of 2010. But 2011? Not so much. I guess Randall and his lot will have vested and retired to Nantucket by then.
That this sort of shit seems to be the organizing concept of American industry for the past half-century or so is, uh, totally unrelated and nothing to worry about, I’m sure. Fake Steve sums it up:
I had this vision of the future — a ruined empire, run by number crunchers, squalid and stupid and puffed up with phony patriotism, settling for a long slow decline.