WarGames: Google vs. Apple

Apple’s Stunning Final Blow
Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
July 30 2013 12:03 PM

WarGames: Google vs. Apple

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Apple’s stunning final blow.

Apple flag flying over the White House.
The most perfect union we’ve ever seen

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker/Slate

Reminder: Matt Yglesias and Farhad Manjoo are wargaming a fanciful, definitely-not-actually-true version of what might happen if Google and Apple went to war. You can see how the battle began here.

As of Dec. 10, 2013 Apple has:
Cash on hand
: $24 million (the executive team’s personal offshore accounts; the rest has been seized by the U.S. government)
Personnel
: 750,000 under direct control, plus nearly 4 million active-duty soldiers in allied armies
Territory controlled
: China, Cuba, Manhattan, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Austin, Chicago

“Obama—remember when he was cool?” Tim Cook’s got a bit of a weird look on his face. But then again, it’s a weird meeting. The executive team: Evo Morales, Sergei Lavrov, the board of directors, and some Chinese guys hanging out in a ramshackle café outside Havana. “But he turned out to be just another weak-kneed, bank-coddling politician. Worse, a weakling. Republicans filibuster his nominees and he just lets them. They line up with Google, and he gets on board. No climate bill, no immigration bill, no budget fix, nothing. It’s time to step up.”

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Representative democracy had a nice run, Cook proclaims. But people are ready to think different. People are ready to embrace a political system that just works. The Founding Fathers reinvented politics and gave the United States of America the most advanced operating system on the planet. Now it’s time to do it all over again.

Congress has a 15 percent approval rating. When the new system is rolled out, people might miss the old elections and gridlock at first. After all, when the iPhone was first released, it was so far beyond anything else available that people actually complained it didn’t have a keyboard. A keyboard! The next step forward in American life is, simply, a revolution.

Of course it starts a bit more prosaically than that—with a plane crash. The pilot’s a fanatic, a secret member of the Apple Army whose wife and kids have been promised unlimited App Store downloads for his sacrifice. Air Force One plummets straight into the Wilmington Amtrak station at the very time when—not coincidentally—Joe Biden is stepping off the Acela. Within minutes, TV stations are reporting that the tragedy is due to faulty directions from Google Maps.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Now power passes directly into the hands of House Speaker John Boehner. At least that’s what’s supposed to happen according to the Presidential Succession Act of 1947. But are the American people really going to let the Republican Party’s super-unpopular House leader take control of the presidency in a Google-orchestrated coup?

Amid the chaos and confusion the Apple Army takes to the streets with a more sensible proposal: Apple’s own Al Gore. There’s no real legal basis for it, but in a polarized and divided country, Democrats can be expected to fall in line behind one of their own. And it’s Gore, not Hillary or some pipsqueak like Andrew Cuomo or Martin O’Malley, who has some troops behind him. The uprisings are under way in every major American city, and the path to what’s simply the most perfect union we’ve ever seen is now clear.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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