Thursday, October 6, 2011
God bless Steve Jobs!
We never met but I'm pretty familiar with your work. Of course I'm just one of millions who lay claim to a connection with you. Full disclosure up front: I do own two iPads, and 3 iPods. In fact, my first experience with a computer at school was on an Apple IIC. Or was it an Apple IIE? Forgive me, it was a while ago.
Today, people around the world are mourning your loss but I think they forget how you'll always be with them. In fact, many people probably learned of your passing on the very devices your company created. And the "NeXT" generation who grew up with you will undoubtedly encourage the next generation to remember why Apple became so iconic.
To me, it seems like you wanted us to truly connect with our devices, almost in a spiritual sense. I know in your younger years you spent some time in India and apparently experimented with the occasional, um, organic substance. It's like you wanted technology to become part of our soul, man. Perhaps that's overstating it.
Look, I don't want to make this uncomfortable for anyone. While so many of us love our technology, Apple products included, at the end of the day it's just a bunch of ones and zeroes and silicon, right? Don't get me wrong -- I've been a geek my whole life. But I routinely question why my Apple products in particular have such a personal feel to them. And in some ways that's baffling to me since I can't open them up, I can't modify them or even replace a battery, and they're almost like a piece of delicate art. Perhaps your greatest legacy will be in recognizing how intuitive design can re-shape our lives without us even being aware of it.
Indeed, I know people are comparing you with Edison and Ford and other great American inventors and already putting you on a pedestal. And that's certainly not without merit. But I'd argue that you're unique. Like a technology that can never be replicated. Clearly you were a visionary. I've also heard you called a genius and a pioneer. I'd agree with all those, especially since you personally hold dozens of patents.
But it wasn't always easy, right? Since I've covered your career for so long, I've also heard the stories of your tough managerial style, your sometimes gruff demeanor and your well-documented ego. But I guess it all comes with the territory in some ways -- you can't make an iomelet without breaking some eggs. And I know you had humble upbringings as a child of adoption.
But as I mentioned before, all of this information comes to me secondhand. I get the feeling only a select few people really knew you. Your family and kids. Steve Wozniak. Maybe Bill Gates on some level. Some Silicon Valley contemporaries. And a trusted inner circle at Apple. But I think it's pretty obvious to everyone that you rose up to become an American success story.
You persevered through an ouster by the company you founded, you then re-built it after Apple was considered borderline obsolete and lacking innovation, and you publicly fought cancer with resolute and inspirational determination. But as you so eloquently said, death is life's change agent.
Bottom line: it's a tough day for a lot of folks. Naturally we're thinking about your loved ones and close friends and colleagues. And those of us in the tech community are speculating about how Apple's new CEO Tim Cook will fare, looking ahead to the release of the new products next week, and wondering if you were bigger than Apple or is Apple bigger than you? It's a question that can't be answered in the short term. (By the way, does the iPhone 4S really refer to "4 Steve"? I must say we were all a little bummed about no iPhone 5) In the meantime, I’m going to “think different.”
Oh, and one more thing….