back to article After Jobs: Apple and the Cult of Disruption

I have a list of some words that really should be banned in polite conversation. The only reason not to ban them is that they're useful indicators, an unambiguous warning that the speakers are going to be a serious waste of our time. The use of any of these words is like wearing a giant invisible hat that says: "I have no …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Captain Underpants

    TL, NMI (Too long, not much insight)

    This article seems a very long-winded way of saying "What Jobs did well was envision and create an environment around Apple's equipment that made it easier for Apple customers to actually *do stuff* they wanted to do with said equipment". But that doesn't include the chance to whinge about people who use the phrase "business model" (and whether you like it or not, Andrew, plenty of folks in both tech and finance sectors use the phrase, because it's less cumbersome than most alternatives).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Business Model?

      I'm more concerned about the circles Mr A moves in if he doesn't hear this phrase used. Each internet gold rush produces a load of firms that seem to start without one but this never seems a 'good thing'.

      1. Bluenose

        I think you'll find....

        that most techology firms fail to start with a business plan. That's thing they teach you to write at business school which shows where all the costs and revenue are going to come from/to and how you get to a profitable position. It includes identifying all the things that need to be done like, market research, marketing, logistics, etc.

        A business model is what architects produce whenever they are asked to design a new supermarket. They make them out of cardboard

        Most people set up web sites or more relevantly web businesses on the basis that creating a web site is relatively easy and 9 times out of 10 they are copying someone else's idea. (remember when there were lots of rivals to eBay?) but haven't done the background work that actually led to the idea in the first place.

        Smiley because I agree that most internet gold rushes are doomed to failure for all but one dominant player.

      2. Phil Standen

        Re: Business Model

        "Way of making money" is what everyone else calls it.

        1. Captain Underpants


          Well, no. The people who call the subject of that discussion "a way of making money" are the people who for some reason don't want to expand their vocabulary, possibly because they're too busy trying to appear the sort of person who calls a spade a f@$%ing spade.

          Until redundancy of terms because a significant issue, I'll always opt for having a greater vocabulary, because artificially restricting my ability to communicate effectively doesn't strike me as a particularly good strategy for anything much except self-sabotage.

          1. Peter Mylward

            RE: @ Phil

            Captain > We are sinking under a sea of superfluous adverbs - - aaarrrggghhh. Artificially, effectively and particularly in one sentence - impressive!

      3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Business Model?

        Oh, I do. All the time.

        I've been on panels and insisted people don't use the phrase, to see what happens. *with hilarious consequences*.

    2. tybalt

      Business model

      Have to agree with you there Captain. We used to frequently discuss the appropriate business model for our research group. We were doing pure contract research, and wanted to move towards carrying out development activity in which we self invested to acheive a) more certain and ealier returns and b) a more equitable share of profit.

      If you don't call that a discussion about a business model, I'd like to know what else it might be called.

    3. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: TL, NMI (Too long, not much insight)

      "What Jobs did well was envision and create an environment around Apple's equipment that made it easier for Apple customers to actually *do stuff* they wanted to do with said equipment".

      Too vague, look deeper.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    In other words,

    perpetual change.

    Keeping an organisation on its toes


    {repeat reams of pseudo management psyco babble}

    until infinity.

    Well Doh!

    1. Bluenose

      Perpetual change

      equals evolution in my book.

  3. The First Dave

    @Andrew O

    "Nobody in business ever used the word "business model" "

    Every single one of "The Dragons" has used it at one time or another. I am pretty sure they are all classed as "Business People"

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: @Andrew O


      1. Ejit

        Did you mean....

        manqué or the numbers 1 to 18 in roulette?

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Some mistake?

    "Apple could make a decent fist of doing so"

    I presume this should have read 'first'?

    Or are we talking iron fist here?

    1. Jan 0 Silver badge

      It's British English innit?

      "To make a decent fist of" is a common expression, similar to "to have a good stab at".

      Do keep up.

    2. peteski22


      Fist of cash?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Nobody in business ever used the word "business model"

    How _is_ the business going, Andrew?

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Nobody in business ever used the word "business model"

      It's going well. I'm selling two pound coins for a tenner in Shoreditch.

  6. Schultz

    Article missed the point

    There are two kinds of people in the science / technology world: Those who develop new stuff and those who manage (and many of those who pretend to be doing have in reality turned to managing some long, long time ago).

    It's obvious what is expected of the peons: deliver the new technology / scientific progress, or get out. It's less obvious how the managing types delivers value. But there is a simple solution to this problem: obfuscate. And what would be more helpful in the obfuscation business than the occasional new, hollow shell of a fancy word.

    My personal favourite is: "Revolutionary (as opposed to evolutionary) science"

  7. Tom 38
    Thumb Down

    Censorship is bad mkay

    Was I rude? Was I offensive?

    The article started by saying "people who use these terms aren't worth listening to" and then proceeded to talk about one of those terms for a page and a half - I found the irony of that interesting enough to point out.

    Poor show.

  8. Adam Nealis

    I hope "paradigm shift", "quantum leap", "user experience" and "innovat(e/ion)" are on the list too.

    I hope "paradigm shift", "quantum leap", "user experience" and "innovat(e/ion)" are on the list too.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I find this article...

    ... not very disruptive. It doesn't fit into the new paradigm of one-to-one and many-to-one business models, nor does it discuss the importance of the current digital ecosystem playing out in the cloud.

    The new singularity which Apple has nurtured by synergising the current cultural zeitgeist are hardly mentioned, nor are the convergent end to end technologies delivering ROI in a post brick and mortar business model.

    The dynamic mindset which Apple bought to the table leveraged and indeed strategised current CRM delivery systems and this should not be played down.

    1. Ted Treen
      Thumb Up

      Matt... gotta be in Marketing - or at least work with Marketing - just to have heard some of those phrases...

      Either that, or you're closely related to/a fan of Scott Adams.

      1. dssf

        No... he's just..

        "Reloaded" .... Or, is that "Downloaded"?

        If ever ANYbody or any body is begging for Cylon Resurrection it's probably Jobs. I want a new body, too, before the time comes. Don't wann go through a Rosie Greer/Ray Milland thing, though...

        I wouldn't mind being a Roger Corby or a Flint, either... (minus the phasering bits...)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I work with people who do marketing, but it's something I'm not massively fond of.

        Thing is, I get it, I totally understand it's purpose, I totally understand how to do it. I just don't like it.

        What I don't like, is that cruft like I posted above *reads* like it means something, but it means nothing at all.

        There is good marketing - the non-bullshit type - but it's vastly outnumbered by the crap. Marketing tends to be the hideout of the fabulously talkative people person - huge ego, talk about themselves till the cows come home, not interested in what you have to say. Not so much blowing their own trumpets as getting an entire orchestra to do it for them.

        It's as old as business itself - fact is, if you don't market, nobody knows your there. Unfortunately, it's reached a point where it's just massively out of control. It's everywhere, in your face, 24/7 - blaring competing 'buy buy buy' signals.

        I could rant on for hours about it...

        Bad marketing is where there's no decent product to back it up. Bad marketing is the attempt polish a turd, so sell a sows ear as a silk purse.

        And in the digital world, there's a whole lot of turd to put into that purse...

        1. Ted Treen



          Succinctly eloquent, as ever. Mind if I copy that out to use at work? :-)

        2. Andus McCoatover

          Re: Never!

          I have to totally agree. Seems the Americans have got the 'crud' part sewn up, "in-your-face" being a good description. Too much, too fast. You don't have a chance to think, and yet some advertising prick said that "not watching adverts is theft"....HUH??

          Good marketing/advertising is one that gets remembered. For example, the Skoda ads. from years ago, where they comically ridiculed their own, re-invented product.

          Remember one advert for Skoda cars?:

          Guy goes from office to the basement for his car. Security guard frantically polishing the front. "Sorry, Sir, but some toe-rag has put a Skoda sticker on your car"

          THAT'S Marketing. Yet that was a decade or more ago. Anyone who saw it could never forget it.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I find this article...


    3. Andus McCoatover

      Oh, God

      I wish I could write like that (plus Andrew Orlowski's original article)

      In the presence of giants.

      Best have another tin of tramp-juice.

  10. Albert Hall

    I was about to say that!

    And it will be even more relevant going forward.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    One tiny, non-disruptive thing PLEASE

    OK, now he's gone upstairs, could we please have RMB added to OS X? Was Steve afraid Xerox PARC would have sued? iOS gestures are all very well, but when you go between Windows and OS X it's a pain to have hit ctrl while clicking to get a Context menu. 'cos if you forget then you get quite the wrong place. I'm really not asking for a new paradigm!

    Maybe it's asking too much, like Google Docs remembering your preferred paper size. Ah OK, we'll have to PAY (with a public profile) to get things like that?

    1. VeganVegan

      You only want a RMB? I'll give you 2 more mouse functions!

      I consider this Steve Jobs biggest joke on all of us: the Apple mouse not only has a regular left mouse button, but also a right mouse button. If that's not enough, it also has a scroll ball (like a scroll wheel, but for both up-down & left-right scrolling), and a strange left+right mouse button (on the sides of the mouse) that you squeeze to 'click'.

      You can customize the 3 buttons to send control-clicks, command-clicks or option(alt)-clicks as you please. For example, those who want to stick with old-fashioned Apple single-button mouse action can set all 3 buttons to send a plain mouse-click :-)

      And, btw, let's not forget about aesthetics. The top of the mouse is one continuous piece of plastic (other than that tiny scroll ball). Whether it's a left or a right mouse click is detected by the force exerted on the respective side of the mouse. After all, there is nothing more disgusting than to see an obvious, mechanical button or two protruding from the mouse, with their dirt-catching crevices and all.

  12. famousringo
    Thumb Down

    Not paying attention

    I guess Andrew wasn't paying attention when the CEO of Nintendo outlined his plan to use 'disruption' to turn around Nintendo's fortunes in the video game console market in 2006.

    You describe it as a distaste for jargon, but your views sound more like anti-intellectualism to me. These theories are not only discussed by actual business leaders, they have been successfully applied by them.

    1. Daniel B.

      Actually paying attention!

      "These theories are not only discussed by actual business leaders, they have been successfully applied by them"

      The term you're searching for isn't "disruptive", it's "Kamban". The art of not just coming with *one* new thing, but constantly improving on it and leaving your competition behind.

      1. famousringo

        Not the term I'm searching for

        I tried Googling "iwata kamban". I get the office of Watase Kamban in Iwata City.

        I Google "iwata disruption" and I get a speech Satoru Iwata gave at GDC 2006 where he explicitly cites disruption as Nintendo's strategy, months before Nintendo launches a textbook disruptive product.

  13. Mage Silver badge

    but but

    Apple hasn't changed the world.

    You can watch TV, make phone calls, create and consume information easily on a Computer based device, listen to music etc etc without a single Apple product.

    They are successful and have slick GUIs. They are very very good at Marketing.

    World changing, Innovative, Creative? No.

    1. Ted Treen


      Course you can - now.

      If there'd never been an Apple, and only a Microsoft, we'd probably still be looking at 16 colours, 1MB RAM max and a command-line interface.

      1. J. R. Hartley


        You havent heard of the Amiga, have you Ted.

        Are you Tedd Gallion?

  14. Joe Gurman

    It's in the financials, innit?

    The disruption is not in the underlying technology --- everything Henry Ford sold in the Model T, and the assembly line, existed before him --- it's putting it together to make more of something people never knew they wanted in such quantitates before that makes a business disruptive in the commercial world. When the customer demand for one maker's products (Model T's, Philco radios, Hula Hoops, iPads) puts other makers out of that business, that's commercially disruptive.

  15. dssf

    Since the author brought up Virgins and Sex...(But not the Sex Pistol nor Sexy Pistils)

    It'll be enteresting if it is discovered that Cook is the Chef behind all of Apple's greatest hits and endventions... I wonder how many would willingly become eunuchs to be part of his inner sir-cull.... hahahaha

  16. Dr Andrew A. Adams

    Academics are not parasites

    As with all professions, such as journalism, there are good and bad academics. Dismissing academics as parasites is deeply insulting to thousands who do great work in both teaching and research. It was university researchers and professors who created the Internet, who created relational databases, who produced the original work on integrated circuits and a large proportion of the rest of the soft and hard infrastructure that goes to make up computing and IT, which provides your living. This ws an unnecessary slur on a large body of people,many of whom work very long hours for too little pay (certinaly a lot less than they could get in any other profession given their talent) as it added nothing to your article's main point.

    1. J 3

      Unfair, I know...

      But journalists (well, way too many of them at any rate) are the embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger effect, it seems to me. Or maybe I'm suffering from said effect, who knows.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Academics are not parasites speaks an academic close to government ;-)

      Many academics now are, unfortunately, parasitically dependent on government grants for rubber-stamping preconceived social or environmental policies. They are not independent, and are not adding the sum of human knowledge.

      Add to that publicity-seeking pseudo scientists with an eye for a press release. The papers are full this junk.

      I would suggest you should be thinking about cleaning up your own house. Unless you think an attack on junk science is an attack on you.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Crapple is Doomed

    Old Steal It, Advertise the Hell out of It, and Sell It, Jobs never hired anyone who was not a yes boy. This is going to be fun to watch.

    1. 5.antiago

      Yes boys

      Didn't he hire some people who effectively fired him?

  18. dancecat

    "Business model"

    Andrew Orlowski's use of "business model":

    1. Marvin the Martian


      ... I've learned its "meaning" in the tech sense actually from TheRegister --- mostly in "Itanium/Itanic ecosystem" and variations thereof.

      Conclusion: ignore this article, or follow its advice and ignore TheRegister?

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: "Ecosystem"

        You have your sites mixed up, obviously.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    words to ban

    Apple words to they are over-used and dont actually match.





    'world’s most advanced operating system'

  20. Anonymous Coward


    I f*&king hate the term disruptive technology. I am watching a teleconference that is kicking off Dreamforce and I sh%$ you not they have used the term disruptive technology more than 100 times!

  21. 5.antiago

    Disruptive = ...

    Disruptive = making products that come to dominate existing market sectors (e.g. iPod, iPod Touch) or new products that create and dominate whole new market sectors (iPad, and arguably the iPhone too)

    Apple have a good track record in being "disruptive" so I'm happy to forgive them on insisting on calling it "disruptive" even if it is jargonistic bullshit, as you say. A disruptive company = a company playing the game of "new replace old" well.

    Essentially, a company with a good business model...

  22. Slabfondler

    You lost me on ecosystem..

    unless you are referring to the use of the term in business. Don't really like it there, but in the big wide world of nature its not a mere meme

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like