Apple needs office space. Apple bought office space. But instead of moving right in and saving huge amounts of time and money, Apple instead intends to destroy everything that's there and replace it with a super expensive campus of its own creation.
You see this same approach to products. The company has been criticized for making "disposable" gadgets with designed obsolescence. It's clear that when the new iPhone comes out, they want you to throw away the old one and forget it ever existed. And Apple has been far more eager than Microsoft, for example, to abandon legacy software and hardware in order to make way for the latest versions.
Apple's new building will generate its own power, using the city's electrical grid as an emergency backup. This is the opposite of what most companies do.
Apple hates relying on anyone else's "platform." That's why Apple builds its own hardware and software, sells Apple products in its own brick-and-mortar retail stores, created its own social network rather than relying on Facebook and created its own cloud infrastructure rather than licensing that functionality from another company.
Apple sees symbiosis or partnership as risky. You can’t rely on other companies to uphold Apple’s vision, and so the company feels compelled to roll its own everything.
The circle is a perfect shape, and therefore the only possible shape for Apple's giant new building. You can build a round building and still have off-the-shelf flat glass windows. But Apple is going the massively expensive route, and using custom designed and custom manufactured curved glass all around. It's going to cost a fortune, but the perfection of the form will be maintained. Most companies would never make this trade-off.
You can see this sensibility in the iPhone 4. There are all kinds of reasons to contour a phone to the hand. But the iPhone 4 is flat on both sides because a straight line is theoretically more perfect than a curve. We’re going to see a lot more of this in future Apple products.
Buildings can be beautiful, but parking lots are ugly. So Apple is putting most of the parking space for its new building underground -- under the building itself -- at great cost, even though it has plenty of space for parking. Instead, all that land will be used for parks, trees and even apricot orchards to remind visitors of the land’s original use. Why? Because trees are pretty and parking lots are ugly.
That's why Apple puts the start button on iMacs on the back, and has aggressively made its peripheral devices increasingly wireless. Buttons and cables are ugly.
Jobs pointed out in his statement that one reason for choosing the location is that it means something to him, personally. (HP bought the land the same summer he got a summer job with the company as a teenager.) Wow! That’s a pretty amazing justification for choosing a location to employ 12,000 people.
It reminds me of Facebook, which uses a blue color for everything because CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg is colorblind, and it’s a color he can see.
Star-struck Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong made a telling slip of the tongue when he told jobs: "We’re really excited you call Apple our home."
In this conversation between CEO and local government, it was clear who had all the power. One council member tried feebly to shake Apple down for city benefits, which is nearly universal treatment in California of any developer presenting a project for approval.
She asked, for example, if Apple would be willing to provide free Wi-Fi in the city, or free iPads. Most CEOs would be forced to grovel and quickly agree to such an expense if it involved approval. But Jobs basically said that, no, Apple doesn’t have to do that. Having Apple’s amazing new building in Cupertino is more than enough benefit for the city.
Jobs’ presentation to the City Council was an iron fist in a velvet glove. He was nice about it, but the subtext of his comments was essentially that "if you don't approve our plan, we (your biggest claim to fame, taxpayer and one of the biggest employers of your voters) will leave the city, and then you’ll be screwed."
Apple is similarly self-aware about its power in negotiating deals with Hollywood, partners and even customers.
One council member asked Jobs about the safety of the building, and Jobs response reassured him by saying that Apple employees are super high-quality people, and therefore the council member should trust that Apple will keep these important people safe.
If Apple would allow ordinary riff-raff into the building -- which they would never do -- then safety concerns would be valid. But no, Apple people are superior, so don’t worry about safety.
You see this same mindset in Apple marketing. Apple is for people who "think different" -- superior people like Einstein and Ghandi. Apple isn't for the suits and the Windows-using masses. Its products enable creative people to change the world, according to a strong theme in Apple's advertising.
Yesterday’s presentation to the Cupertino City Council looked like a company CEO requesting approval for a construction project. But for Apple watchers, and anyone who cares about the future of the company and the industry, it was Christmas. In Apple’s breathtaking plans for a spectacular new campus was revealed everything you really need to know about Apple – and the Apple-dominated future of consumer technology.