Well, unless you live under a rock in Antarctica, you have already heard that Steve Jobs died yesterday at the age of 56. Peacefully, too. Fought the hard fight against pancreatic cancer and eventually conceded honorably.
The reaction of people is largely a sad one. I mean, Steve Jobs helped define a generation – Hell, two generations. My generation was inspired by Jobs and Bill Gates. Steve Jobs was an innovator and witty speaker. He made being a geek with a computer look cool and professional. He knew how to talk to people, he understood the market.
Most importantly, Steve Jobs was a great competitor. He forced people and big corporations to think differently about technology. He wanted to build the best computer with the best technology and somehow make it affordable to the common person. Unlike Gates, he wasn’t trying to force people to use one software platform (it just comes with the territory). Unlike IBM, he wanted PCs to be more than just business machines. Unlike most cellular phone companies, he wanted mobile phones to be more than just phones. He made Apple drive markets to doing things better, and wanted them to try to be greater than Apple. He understood the business of good competition in the technology marketplace.
He also supported Pixar through their growing stages. He sank over 5 million dollars into Pixar and stuck with them because he knew they would succeed given time. Steve knew a good thing when he saw it. Pixar would not be here if it weren’t for Steve Jobs.
The other emotion people are having is one of smug pleasure. Apple is notorious for running sweatshops in China and other countries to build their gadgets. And the suicide rates are high in those factories. Some people were anti-Apple merely due their hatred for shiny technology. Some hated the iPhone (or the iBrand period). My response to them is that although Steve Jobs was the CEO of Apple, it’s often the CFO’s and the COO’s decision where and how your products are made. The CEO can suggest but the real power lies in those two positions. I’m sure it wasn’t Steve Job’s idea to employ sweatshops. We’ll never know, really.
Either way, as I have said in many posts on the Net today, he was a defining person of my generation. Throughout most of my life, I have owned something by Apple. From a IIc to a Mac to a iPod. We’re probably going to own an iPad at some point (or something similiar to the iPad). All this is possible because of Steve Jobs. Which is why I was little choked up when I watched his tribute on CNBC yesterday.
EDIT: I think President Obama said it best when he said, “There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.” That pretty much sums it up.
EDIT PART TWO ELECTRIC BOOGALOO:
I am extremely surprised about the amount of negative responses I’ve received from people in under an hour. I haven’t had one positive, feel-good one. It’s like Job’s death brought out the worst in people. Then again, recent events and politics have brought out the worst in everybody.
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