Mike Daisey had the audience guffawing in the aisles for two hours on Thursday. The event: his monologue titled ‘The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs’ that artfully navigated Apple co-founder Jobs’ career and his obsession with industrial design. The show had arrived in Mumbai after having travelled across several cities across the country.
An extempore artiste from the US, Daisey — who “worships Apple as a religion” — took centre stage with a table and chair, sipped occasionally from a glass of water, dabbed his forehead with a handkerchief and flipped through A4 sheets in front of him.
Part travelogue, part biography, and mostly laugh-out-loud slapstick, the monologue gave both reasons to genuflect in front of Jobs as well as shunned him for Apple’s disrespect for labour laws.
A technology geek, Daisey shared experiences of interviewing employees at Foxconn in China, the manufacturing hub of iPhones and iPads for Apple, describing the extreme discipline and tough culture in which over 3 lakh employees of the company work. Apple has been criticised globally for worker suicides at Foxconn. “The company now has wired nets surrounding the edges of its building that serve as a padding to prevent more
suicides. They call it corporate social responsibility,” he said.
Daisey wasn’t surprised that this hasn’t yet caused a major backlash from Apple fans. He believes that to be addicted to Apple is to be “at the whim of Steve Jobs”. “The moment you get used to a particular feature in an Apple product, Jobs has a tendency to pull it back from stores and give you a new one. Other marketers would get it off shelves in a phased manner, but Apple doesn’t care. Jobs is clearly the master of the ‘forcedupgrade’.”
He described the iPad as Apple’s greatest success in marketing, not innovation. “Along with other fans, I also stood in a queue during the iPad launch, looking wistfully at the sales counter, awaiting my turn,” he said. “When I eventually brought it home and somebody asked me why I bought it, (sighs) I didn’t have an answer! It seems exactly like the iPhone, only bigger, like a tablet which Moses brought down from the mountains!”
Jobs was fired from Apple, leading to its eventual downfall (Wired magazine put an Apple obituary on its cover) in 1997, months before he was brought back by the same board of directors whom he eventually fired. “I would have loved to be on the phone call over which they (Apple) decided to call him back!” he said, enacting a mock call. In Daisey’s view, Jobs is a jerk, but a rigorous taskmaster”.
“Without Apple, Steve Jobs is a poor little thing. With Apple, he is a narcissist supernova.”