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Steve Jobs – My Take on the Man

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

I was sad to hear on Wednesday that Steve Jobs had in fact lost his battle with cancer. For the past couple of days the media has done nothing but run with it here in the US. Knowing a little about Steve Jobs and the tech industry, I heard a lot of stretched truths in all the coverage. To be honest, when the news broke into the show I was watching, and the way they started, you would have though that either President Obama had died, or Jesus himself came back and killed in a drive-by shooting. True visionaries die every day and unfortunately the news never breaks into a show to let you know about them. Was Steve a true visionary?

I guess if taking a lot of money and throwing it at something like Pixar or NeXT makes you a visionary, then no doubt Steve was one. No doubt Steve was a great front man for a really big company, but calling him a visionary I think takes it to far. If he was a visionary, you would think that he would have seen what was about to come from Gates and Microsoft back in the day. If I remember correctly, was it not his entire team that was in fact telling him what he was getting himself and Apple into back then? Is it not also true that if it weren’t for Steve Wozniak, there would be no Apple? Then again, if there were no Steve Jobs there would have been no Apple. Steve Jobs, a technology visionary or a marketing master, you decide.

Seeing as I am not a Steve Jobs buff, I had to brush up on a little history, and of course I used the always amazing Wikipedia. OK, so there was a bit of sarcasm with that last line. According to Wikipedia, it says Steve Jobs was the primary or co-inventor of 338 US patents. I know, 338 patents, we all just threw up a little in our mouths. There are a lot of electronic device, computing device, user interface for computer display, and many more technical patents. If I remember correctly, and Wikipedia can back me up a little as well, Steve wasn’t an electrical engineer, he wasn’t a designer, and he wasn’t a developer. What Wikipedia says is that he was a business person. OK, so they also say inventor. Let’s see, did Steve invent the computer? No. Did he invent the GUI? No. Did he invent the touch screen? No. Do you think he really invented speakers, keyboards, power adapters, or staircases? Will someone please explain to me what staircases he invented, and is this like the staircases in your home or is there staircases for your iPhone? I don’t think he invented anything, I in fact believe he rode on the coat tails of the amazing inventors, engineers, designers, and developers that Apple had hired. Like I said earlier, he was an amazing front man for an amazing and talented group of people. If he invented anything, it would be the mindless brainwashing and creation of robots known as Apple users.

OK, so I called Steve out a little. Actually, I didn’t call Steve out, I really called the media out who has swung from his proverbial nuts for the past few days. I definitely do not think Steve was an evil person and actually believe that he was a really good guy with such an amazing passion for technology and computing. I believe he may have assisted in some decisions which led to the success of Apple, but unlike MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and others, I do not believe he is the visionary he’s made out to have been, and I also believe that Steve just might agree with me. Never once have I heard Steve say, “I did,” nor have I heard him say “because of me.”

Will Apple be able to continue without Steve Jobs? The media are 50/50 on this. They wholeheartedly believe Steve was Apple, but at the same time a few people with a bit of common sense that realize the company was left in good hands with the new CEO, and all of Apple’s amazing talent is still in tact. Jony Ive is still at Apple, and I do believe he was the head designer behind such products as the iMac, the PowerBook, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. If I remember correctly, earlier this year Apple lost Bertrand Serlet, one of the original GUI designers at Xerox (isn’t that where both Apple & Microsoft ripped off the GUI?) as well as NeXT, and he was the principal developer behind Mac OS X. So to you media moguls out there, Apple will survive, they just won’t present the next iPhone with a blue jean clad, black turtle neck wearing, CEO. They will still come on stage and disappoint with a new product. Example, you all thought you were getting the iPhone 5 this week, only being told you are getting the iPhone 4S, but I guarantee you will all be standing in line at the Apple store, or AT&T, or Verizon, or wherever it gets sold, just to get it. Who cares if you have only had the iPhone 4 for just over a year, you will go and spend your hard-earned money, and for that we are grateful. You need the dueling antennas to get the reception you should have had from day one.

So, from me to you Steve, I will miss you. Even though I am not a Mac user or fanboy, I will miss your product launches. I will miss your true UNIX spirit as well. UNIX spirit? Yes, one thing Steve did when he presented was talk about an app and how that app did one thing, and did it well. The browser, the email client, other apps, and the iPod. Kudos to you Steve for helping create one of the largest and successful companies in the world. Thank you for all the philanthropic work you have done over the years. Thank you for showing the world there is something more than Microsoft out there. Thank you for proving you can create a mainstream UNIX-based desktop. And one last thank you, with a bit of sarcasm and fun, thank you for taking 10% of the desktop market away from Microsoft leaving us Linux people with a whole 1% to 2% stake in that market. Rest in peace Steve, you have done a lot of good work over the many years and you deserve the rest. My thoughts and prayers go out to you, your family, and your friends.

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  • My compliments. Probably the best words in these days about all this Job’s thing.

    • Actually Gizmodo just did a really well written article about the things people aren’t saying about Jobs. It is kind of a build off of where I started, just much better 🙂  Thanks for the compliments, very much appreciated.

  • I saw a lot of people slating Tim Cooks announcement of the 4S, but I’d be willing to bet that Steve knew what was going to happen, and that Tim did too. That’s quite the burden to carry on your shoulders in front of the media.

    Still, what you’ve said here is better than a lot of the things I’ve read in the last couple of days.

  • Frvespa

    I agree on most of what you are saying. I too think Jobs is being overrated. I
    His vision of technology was elitist and based on money, yet he did an amazing contribution to the world of operating systems. But people comparing him to Gandhi or Einstein?! I czn’t even begin to imagine what will be said when Gates will pass away… Unfortunelately, when Stallman will die, not a line will be dropped in the media. Sadly, as you have put it, it is not about the technology, it is about the marketing…

  • Overrated or not he (as a leader) surely brought the Apple ecosystem back to life and with great quality products. I am a Linux fan. But when it comes to usability and having some stability in my day to day OS I always turn to Apple. Talking from a developer and power-user point of view the attention to details just makes you smile whether it’s the software or the hardware.

    • Like I said in the post, he was a great front man. If they didn’t have Jobs but still had all of their other amazing talent, you know the ones who actually worked on the product, do you think they could have still turned the ecosystem around? OK, that is kind of a question where the answer will be no. Because without NeXT, Mac OS X wouldn’t have come to fruition. Jobs founded NeXT, he surely didn’t create it though.

  • Every time I see Apple users referred to as “mindless robots,” I hear “I have no earthly clue why people like that dood’s stuff so much, so I’m going to throw a fit about it in public. Everyone who values different things than I do — or things that I am oblivious to — is an idiot.”

    Apple’s done more to make computing accessible to the masses than Linux ever has. Ubuntu’s greatest strength has been its willingness to follow Apple’s lead on that, and bring aesthetics and usability to those who can’t afford Macs (or who care about open-source code).

    • Anonymous

      How do you know that? Linux is used in EVERYTHING and the Gnu toolchain and licenses have far reaching consequences for our society that will reverberate for the rest of human history.  Apple and Steve are blips, they’ve pushed the cause of design aesthetics and I’d like to remember them all for that cause more than the other harmful things. Even Apple folks would admit that without Gnu and BSD, Apple’s OSX and other products would be well designed shambles, computer science is more than just flashy marketeers who glue a bunch of existing projects together and claim to have made a revolutionary new product.

    • I for one wouldn’t call all of the Apple users idiots. The people who will stand in line for days or even weeks, those are the idiots, and yes the mindless robots. I wouldn’t say Apple has done anything for the masses when it comes to computing, as they hardly have a 10% share of the market. In this case, Microsoft has brought computing to the masses, and it is far more accessible, and yes more evil, than Apple Mac OS X has ever been. A majority of the masses shop at Walmart, Target, Costco, and Best Buy here in the United States. Best Buy is the only one to carry Apple computers. There was a post not long ago about Best Buy and that on average for every 1 Mac they sell, they sell over 100 PCs (paraphrasing as I can’t remember the actual numbers, but it was greater than 100 actually).

      I personally feel that GNOME and Ubuntu have dumbed down the desktop so much in fact that I do not like using it. I like the fact I can tinker and tweak easily with either KDE or DWM, but that is a different story for another time. Personally, Macs are for me. Are they nice? Sure they are. And obviously Macs aren’t for the other 90% of computer users in the world either.

    • “Apple’s done more to make computing accessible to the masses than Linux ever has.”

      Actually, and I don’t like to say this, I think that Microsoft did it and still do it. I’m not saying that Windows is more usable that Mac OsX, but we’re still talking of a OS that has barely a 10% of total market. I use Linux and I appreciate something from Apple and from Microsoft, I don’t want to debate about “x is better than y”, I just want to remember that Apple is not as universal as everybody tends to imagine in these days.

  • I think you miss the point of why everyone is praising Steve Jobs. You describe how he isn’t an engineer, isn’t a designer etc, but what he did do above all else in the history of personal computing pushed forward the idea that computers should illicit an emotional bond from their users, that they should be satisfying to use all day, from the way they feel in your hand to the way you interact with them.  Its that which is his single greatest “invention”, and it is that which will be the thing that is still around 100 years from now when the mouse GUI and all the other prominent developments in computing no longer matter. 

    Stephen Fry described it as being like the difference between an architect of the 60s designing depressing concrete tower blocks that get the job done but feel horrible to live in (He described them as feeling “sick”), and with modern day architects who now value that a building can change your mood and value designing buildings that just feel nice to be inside. I very much urge you to listen to the Stephen Fry interview

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