Monday, July 09, 2012

Liberal Party's Future, New Apple or Old Microsoft

Tablet computers have been around for years, but it took Steve Jobs to make them popular.

Though the Liberal Party has been around longer than any tablet computer, it shares more than a few similarities with the now ubiquitous device.

The Liberal Party has strong fundamentals and viable market share in a competitive industry, but like the early tablet computers, it is an old idea in a new world. What Liberals need is what tablet computers needed, Steve Jobs.

In 2001 Microsoft announced a revolutionary platform in personal computing, the Microsoft Tablet PC, the problem was it wasn't very popular. It was similar to a laptop but because it had less computing power it was more limited in what it could do; and what it did do, like handwriting recognition, it did poorly.

In 2010 Apple launched the iPad, and though tablets were old hat, the iPad wasn't like anything that came before. It wasn't merely a work laptop with a swiveling screen, it was personal device in every sense of the term.

Just as Steve Jobs took an old idea and put it into a modern context, the Liberal Party needs to do the same. Liberals can't just tweak their party, like Microsoft tweaked a laptop and called it a tablet PC, the Liberal Party has to start from scratch, take its old party and define it by today.

That means a party full of old organizers and even older officials can't be made new by adding one or two new policies, especially when those policies aren't even new. Legalization of marijuana was proposed years ago by the Liberal controlled Senate and decriminalization was actually Liberal government policy a decade ago.

But Apple didn't just revolutionize an old product, it sold it in a new way. The product launch was not about the product, it was about a complete new way of doing things.

In holding the largest teleconference in North America to pass policy, in being the first to broadcast a full national convention live online, and in allowing ordinary Canadians to vote for the next Liberal Leader, the Liberal Party has begun this transformation, but like Apple it can't stop improving and offering new product.

But then again, in looking at the long reign of the big red machine and its loss of dominance to a new upstart centered around one man, perhaps the Liberal Party is nothing like Apple, and instead is more like its competitor.

After all in 2001 Bill Gates held up a Microsoft tablet prototype and said that in 5 years it would be the most popular form of personal computing. Microsoft and the Liberal Party were later shown up by a rival who did a better job of modernizing their own product.

Bill Gates' prediction that his tablet computers would dominate by 2006 was off, it was Apple that took the idea and made it into a success. Coincidentally, not only was 2006 the year Bill Gates was proven wrong, it was the year Liberals were too.

In the end the future is uncertain for Liberals, either they need a Steve Jobs or they need to stop one.

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