Thursday, October 06, 2011

Farewell Steve Jobs

I have never owned an Apple product and yet Steve Jobs has changed the world I live in at least four times.

Jobs and Wozniak's Apple II made the computer personal and in doing so it made the information technology revolution something that everyone of us could share in. Prior to the Apple II only geeks and hobbyists with their own soldering irons need apply.

Later the original Macintosh transformed our expectations of how humans should interact with these strange new thinking machines. It matters little that the the Mac never competed with the more generic PC in terms of sales. It also matters little that few of the ideas in the mac were entirely new. It was Jobs and the Macintosh that showed all of us what was possible.

In more recent times the Ipod and Itunes revolutionised the business of not just music but creative content generally. Again it matter little that the ideas were not particularly new. This time Apple's vision of a product with superior design that was simply better for humans to use than any of its competitors worked and
the I- brand became a tsunami that carried the new paradigm of digital media along with it.

To my mind the Iphone is probably Jobs most important contribution of all. This disruptive product has made portable computing and constant inter-connectivity a reality for millions. In so far as human intelligence can be measured not just by what is in a man's head but more by what information can he access at a moments notice then you could say that the Iphone and similar portable computing devices represent the next step in human evolution. I don't include the Ipad yet in my list of products that changed the world because it is too early yet to gauge its full impact and because I remain to be convinced that the IPad is more than just a big Iphone.

Of course there is a reason why I have never owned any Apple products. Their closed architecture, high price business model never appealed to me. In recent times Apple's vision has become even more controlling and to my mind stifling. Apple's insistence that the only software you put on their product must come from Apple's own retail channel is not just stifling, I believe it is downright dangerous. Mobile computing is too important and too transformative a technology for for one company to be allowed so much control over it.

Regardless of my misgivings about Apple's business model  I salute the extraordinary man who has made such an impact on our world and who sadly passed away yesterday at only 56 years of age.

Steve Jobs RIP

EDIT: I didn't even mention Jobs inspirational support of Pixar. I guess I am not a film buff but judging from other comments around the web Jobs Pixar work was as important as his computer stuff. 


DM Osbon said...

It's a sad day indeed.

I believe unless you've owned an Apple product then it's very difficult to fathom the attraction. I'd rather have the 'closed' environment that Apple products offer than the overwhelming variety of choice. I get what I need from Apple products. But I do agree the price is off-putting.

mbp said...

I am not oblivious to the attraction of Apple products DM - my wife and my kids have several of them. Indeed when my wife wanted a smartphone I recommended she get an Iphone even though I have an Android phone myself.

Unfortunately even though I admire the superb design of these Apple products I still think that the close "Itunes" / "App store" model is a very very bad thing for the consumer in the long run. The closed hardware I can live with its the software restrictions that are dangerous.

DM Osbon said...

Interesting point mbp but I don't see the danger or why it's such a bad thing for the consumer. Maybe it's down to personal choice or that I'm blind to it?!