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2015-02-16    来源:财富中文网    【      美国外教 在线口语培训
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Sometime in 2000, my colleague Verlyn Klinkenborg started bringing his Mac laptop to our New York Times editorial board meetings. The rest of us would hover around the sleek white machine with the cool lighting radiating from it, wondering if Verlyn could possibly be serious. Some of us had used Apple computers AAPL -0.84% in college, sure, but everyone does crazy things in college.

Was an Apple really fit for a workplace? Verlyn assured us that it was no toy, and that his Mac could do all the things ours could—the mix of surfing, emailing, and pontificating that the gig entailed—without crashing as frequently as our PCs. Verlyn claimed that his Apple was not susceptible to those nasty viruses that plagued our land of “WinTel,” and I wanted to believe him. I too bought a Mac and instantly felt cooler as a result.

Fast forward to 2015, when the novelty would be for someone at a meeting to take out a laptop that isn’t an Apple. And, somehow, the caché remains. Apple has walked the tightrope between ubiquity and coolness, attaining one without sacrificing the other.

The company recently announced the most profitable quarter in U.S. corporate history, a three-month period in which it sold almost 75 million iPhones and 5.5 million Macs. CEO Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ down-to-earth successor, couldn’t help himself on the earnings call, describing the quarter as “historic” and his company’s performance—selling an average of 34,000 iPhones an hour, 24/7—as “hard to comprehend.” Apple is now the world’s most valuable company, with a stock market valuation of some $700 billion and nearly $180 billion in cash on hand. The company’s iTunes store counts a staggering 800 million active users.

What’s most astonishing, given those numbers, is that Apple is far less ubiquitous than you might think. It has plenty of room to grow. Indeed, it may only be getting started.

If you look at its existing product lines, Apple only dominates the tablet market. The competing Android operating system runs more than two-thirds of the world’s smartphones. Apple ranks fifth worldwide in the number of computers sold, and third in the U.S. There is plenty of market share left for Apple to steal from others.

Apple’s growth strategy is disciplined. The company doesn’t slash prices or create subpar products to meet less affluent consumers in emerging markets halfway. Apple instead holds out its meticulously designed, pricier products as coveted trophies for new middle-class consumers.

Apple is only starting to wade into an array of markets that it will likely revolutionize, and dominate, in short order. Apple Pay, its bid to become your all-encompassing cashless wallet, is off to a strong start. Fledgling Apple ventures like HomeKit, CarPlay, iBeacon, and the Apple Watch provide clues to Apple’s unstated, ultimate goal: providing you with one portal, or operating system, that links your Apple devices to your car and your home.

No other company is anywhere near being able to match Apple in providing us with such seamless curation of our lives. The Italian novelist Umberto Eco famously said in the 1990s that Apple was like Catholicism in that its followers had to adhere to one way of doing things, while Microsoft (you could say Google nowadays) was more akin to Protestantism, which gave followers more latitude to reach their own conclusions and organize themselves accordingly.

And so Apple’s prospects appear brighter than ever. Its own success would seem to be the only threat to a company that has billed itself as the scrappy underdog that promised to help us “think different.” Therein lies the company’s existential challenge: Can Apple remain cool if its products become the one indispensable means of controlling your life and communicating with others?

I reached out to Verlyn, who now teaches at Yale, to ask whether he’s still inhabiting the Apple ecosystem. He is, and his disgust at his pre-2000 Windows experience sounds as raw as it did when he first started proselytizing for the Mac. But he draws a line at the coming Apple Watch: “I’ve never worn a watch, and I can’t imagine starting now.”

sleek: adj.圆滑的,花言巧语的; 有光泽的; 时髦的

pontificate: vi.装作教皇的说话

entail:vt.牵涉; 需要; 使必要; 限定继承

susceptible: adj.易受影响的; 易受感染的; 善感的

novelty: n.新奇; 新奇的事物; 新颖小巧而价廉的物品

ubiquity: n.到处存在,(同时的)普遍存在

ubiquitous: adj.无所不在的; 普遍存在的

subpar: adj.平均标准以下的,不够标准的

coveted:adj.令人垂涎的; 垂涎的,梦寐以求的

trophy: n.纪念品,战利品; 奖品,奖杯(牌)

curation:n.治愈,治疗; [IT](对数字信息的)综合处理,指对数字信息的选择

scrappy: adj.混乱的; 散乱的

underdog: n.失败者; 退居下风的人; 受压迫者









苹果进军一系列新兴市场的脚步才刚刚启动,它很可能将在很短时间内彻底改变或统治这些市场。号称要成为无所不能的电子钱包的Apple Pay,就是一个强劲的开端。而那些羽翼未丰的项目,如HomeKit,CarPlay,iBeacon以及Apple Watch,则让我们看清了苹果未曾明说的终极目标:提供一个端口或一套操作系统,将你的苹果设备与你的汽车和住宅连接在一起。


有鉴于此,苹果的前景看上去比以往任何时候都更加光明。这家公司曾经自称为斗志昂扬的失败者,声称要帮我们“不同凡想”(think different),而如今,过于成功才是它面临的唯一威胁。苹果现在面临的挑战在于:如果苹果的产品成为控制我们生活并与他人联络的不可或缺的手段时,它还能那么酷吗?

为此我特地去请教目前在耶鲁大学任教的福林,看他是否还固守着苹果的生态系统。确实还这样,而且他现在依然还清楚地记得在2000年开始膜拜Mac电脑之前使用Windows系统的糟糕体验。但他跟即将上市的Apple Watch划清了界线:“我从来就不戴手表,也不能想象现在要开始戴。”


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