Kara Swisher's provocative interview with the "world's scariest economist" got me wondering what Mariana Mazzucato had written about Apple.
From Mazzucato‘s 2013 book The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths::
Apple is far from the ‘market’ example it is often used to depict. It is a company that not only received early state finance from the government, but also ‘ingeniously’ made use of publicly funded technology to create ‘smart’ products. In fact, there is not a single key technology behind the iPhone that has not been State-funded. Besides the communication technologies, the iPhone is smart because of features such as the Internet, GPS, a touch-screen display, and the latest new voice activated personal assistant (SIRI). While Steve Jobs was no doubt an inspiring genius worthy of praise, the fact that the iPhone/iPad empire was built on these State-funded technologies provides a far more accurate tale of technological and economic change than what is offered by mainstream discussions...
Individual genius, attention to design, a love for play, and foolishness were no doubt important characteristics. But without the massive amount of public investment behind the computer and Internet revolutions, such attributes might have led only to the invention of a new toy – not to cutting-edge revolutionary products like the iPad and iPhone which have changed the way that people work and communicate...
Apple’s capabilities are mainly related to their ability to (a) recognize emerging technologies with great potential, (b) apply complex engineering skills that successfully integrate recognized emerging technologies, and (c) maintain a clear corporate vision prioritizing design-oriented product development for ultimate user satisfaction.
My take: I can say with some authority that it's harder to get stories about government research agencies into newspapers and magazines than it is stories about genius entrepreneurs and their newest gizmos.
The Swisher interview is highly recommended. The designation "world's scariest economist," it turns out, comes from a headline that a male editor slapped on top of a sympathetic profile of Mazzucato that was written by a woman.