Steve Jobs

I awoke to the sad news that Steve Jobs had passed away. Not that I felt in any way emotionally involved about Steve whilst he was alive, or indeed emotionally invested very deeply with any of the products that he designed, made, or sold, but he was someone that made up a large portion of the industry that I’ve chosen to start my career in.

When I look at some of the images from how Apple was started back in the ’70s they show a Steve Jobs in his garage with bits of computers lying around everywhere. It reminds me so much of places like the Swansea University Computer Society room, and all the different components lying around in there. I imagine it must have been a lot like the society meetings and various other events that I participated in with the society, and for that reason I can clearly understand how important he was for the entire tech industry – because he began his career in a similar place to me.

The early days of the silicon valley are very interesting. The start ups of both Apple and Microsoft divided the geeks into separate camps and provided a breeding ground for the horribleness of fanboys. Fanboys are like the Daily Mail of groupies – they are hugely biased, outspoken and opinionated and never help the entire progression of technology, or whichever group those particular fan boys reside. The best thing a consumer can be is a fan of a product, but also be able to point out when something is better in another. I’d like to believe I have an open mind about things, and that the choices of products that I choose to buy are well informed for the overall functions I want them to do. Hence, I bought an iPhone – the first Apple product I’ve bought, and am proud to own. I could have easily have bought a Windows phone, if my carrier supported the model I wanted, it was simply a culmination of the different pros and cons I was faced with at the time. Of all of the tributes that I have seen for him today, one that keeps making me stop to think is the one from Bill Gates. Here you have two competitors, who throughout their public interactions remained polite and respectful of each others’ business, and a perfect example of how you should behave.

It doesn’t make things for my ideal world of everybody living harmoniously and having open minds towards things, that seemingly there is a subconscious religious aspect to products sold by Apple. It makes people arrogant and obnoxious. And I instantly lose respect for such individuals who believe there can be no better – they’re wrong – there can always be better things.

The point I am trying to get to is no matter how much Steve Jobs loved his company, Apple, he never gave me the impression of being anything like the fan boys that I describe. He was interested in how good his products were, and how much people will be able to enjoy them, never seeming to use the detriment of his competitors to boost his own performance, and it is for this reason I really respect him.

I also think he has a business persona we will probably never see again. When he was fired from Apple in the ’80’s, the company started to fail – I still remember my friend laughing at another mates’ fathers’ Mac in 1997 saying how bad they’d become. There are very few people who could possibly have turned around a company to become the wealthiest technology firm in the world, and the second wealthiest in America, in a short amount of time as he did, seemingly by himself. What an amazing achievement and what an amazing thing to have seen.

Reading the many tributes that people have made makes me wonder why such pleasant memories are only recalled after someone has passed away.

Whether you are from the industry or not, you can’t get away from the fact that Steve was an incredibly important and historical person that has changed the way you do things, whether directly or indirectly. Spare a thought or two for him today.

~ by shepherdnick on October 6, 2011.

5 Responses to “Steve Jobs”

  1. Your are so right, and so balanced it is refreshing. Since 1977 I never heard reasonable arguments from either side.

  2. I like what you’ve said here Nick, an important man in the computing/entertainment world, fair enough but it’s not like he did much about poverty or hunger or disease or corruption. When you consider the size of the world it’s a relatively small percentage of the western world’s population who’s lives have been “bettered” by his product!

  3. You bring up a good point Mark, one that I have no inside knowledge on, because I believe that Steve Jobs either had no philanthropic desires or processes, or he made gestures anonymously (unlike Bill Gates’ foundation), but this wasn’t really the idea of my post.

    Charity is important to most people, but it’s not a requirement of a billionaire, and not giving money does not instantly make you a bad person. My dad taught me that charity begins at home, and maybe there’s a sense of this in Steve (although I am sure he wouldn’t have missed the money).

  4. Well said Nick, I may have made a joke or too, just joined in with the fun, but I also consider Jobs to have been a great man. He started like us, and got where he deserved to be for all his efforts. One thing that struck me was how he always followed whatever product he was producing right through its design, he didn’t just let the slap an apple on the back and say it was his, he sat with them and made sure his name was on it in a physical and spiritual sense.
    And also, I like what you said about the religious aspect of Apple products. There are a lot of fanboys out there that are border line religious zealots, I think they may actually crucify me if I mention that the battery on my Iphone isn’t doing so well lately. And there are those on the other side, the android lovers who saw Steve Jobs as some con man, stealing ideas from everywhere else. But the fact is, almost every idea has been done before, he just had a way of doing some of them better which is why I like my apple products.
    The man worked hard his entire life in an industry that he helped create, he left a great mark in the development of today’s great enterprises and even inspired fictional ones (Star Trek for example). He deserved a longer life, but I thank him for what he did.

  5. I think I was trying to draw a comparison with him being put on a pedestal or “sainted” if you like, to so many unsung heroes who really do make a difference to peoples welfare or life expectancy. I agree that being wealthy doesn’t have to equal being charitable and clearly history would suggest that generous philanthropists don’t always remain billionaires!! I think I was reacting to some over the top gushing. I presume Jobs has left Apple in a good state, and his stepping down at an appropriate time will mean that the stock markets don’t do a crazy on them. Although he was important in setting the company’s standards I suspect Apple will carry on bringing creative products to market. So will he be missed? certainly by his family! will his passing rock the world? nope!
    Not too sure he inspired fictional enterprises, according to Wikipedia it would be the other way around! ( http://tinyurl.com/69tor2m ) He was good at what he did, he was clearly set in a unique mould, he was a leader and a motivator and he got the best out of most of those he employed. Great leaders are after all great delegators! Apparently he head hunted the PepsiCo Marketing VP, John Sculley, with this pitch “Would you prefer to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?” this has gone down in folklore or urban myth as a great pitch, but it turned out that John Sculley was a bit of a disaster for Apple and Jobs! Anyway, plenty of people have died since and for all their families it’s a tragedy so I probably won’t be making another comment about him again! btw, it’s too late at night to be making much sense, I’ll look at this tomorrow and see if I’ve made any glaring errors!

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