Friday, October 07, 2011

The Real Genius of Steve Jobs

Here's one of the more ill-thought out statements to have been uttered in the last few days following the sad death of Steve Jobs. 

"'s hard to imagine a worlds(sic) without iPods, Pads, Phones etc etc."

No it's not. It is extremely easy to imagine a world without Apple products. You just have to visit the huge swathes of the planet where people don't spend their time salivating, slack-jawed at the window of their local Apple store. Only someone deeply embedded within their mostly self-imagined world of Apple would make such an indulgent statement. Some individuals (like our friend above) may be unable to imagine a world without their iPhone but billions of other people have no such problem. Most of the people of the world have to rely on the technology that is available to them at a price that they can afford.

When I have had a chance to use Apple products I've liked them. They are beguiling in their simplicity and elegance and that is their charm and their brilliance, but after that I didn't really feel they offered me significantly more than I could get from other products or at least, not sufficiently to justify the price tag. There's also the uncomfortable feeling that you're buying your way into some sort of clique. Whenever two Apple users meet, their conversation rather easily seems to turn to their gadgets and they are unlikely to emerge and re-enter normal society until they're separated from each other. I really don't want to run the risk of getting drawn into that sort of a conversation - maybe that's just me.

To go back to our friend's original statement, it is actually hard to imagine a world without computers, without telephones, but Steve Jobs did not invent either of these (despite what some people have claimed in recent days). He made exquisitely beautiful, tactile products with elegant interfaces that exploited those inventions. This was his genius and I hope he left enough of his psychological DNA in Apple that they continue to make them and thrive.

There should always a place in the world for people who can make something that is more than just brutally functional and Steve Jobs brilliantly proved that, but if Apple products were removed from the world today, telephony and computing would continue without so much as a hiccup because the brute horsepower that really runs those systems does not rely on Apple technology to perform.


Anonymous said...

Yes, it's sad that an intelligent, thoughtful man has died. But it happens every day. Let's be grateful that he lived, appreciate his legacy, and move on.

Terra Shield said...

It was more of a shock for me when I heard it on the radio - mainly because I was unaware of the cancer.

Nota Bene said...

The tragedy is he was just 56...far too young for anyone to die (although many do).

sriyany said...

Well said. He was an innovator in many ways. Found his Stanford speech very insightful though.

King of Scurf said...

I guess the point I was trying to make is that he didn't - as many people have claimed in recent days - change the world. He certainly changed the world of small handheld gadgets and he provided an alternative to the hegemony of the Microsoft based PC which is no mean achievement.

He could be, by all accounts, be rather unforgiving of the perceived failings or limitations of those around him but single-mindedness is usually a double-edged sword.