I surprised myself with the emotional reaction to hearing about Steve Jobs’ passing yesterday. I guess I knew it was coming, but having never met the man, didn’t expect to have “a moment” about it. After reading words from Eric Schmidt, Richard Branson, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and President Obama (not to mention a few other people), it became quite challenging to write anything original that I hadn’t covered when he resigned. But there is one thing that I don’t think is as bluntly stated as I’d do it, so here’s my brief take.
Steve Jobs is, in my opinion, singlehandedly responsible for the concept of Consumer Technology. Or, less brief, responsible for the concept of really amazing consumer technology.
I wasn’t always an Apple fan, but I think I (almost) always respected (most of) their products. Even before I wanted a Mac, I thought it was awesome that they paid such attention to screws and other little details. Even when I thought a turquoise computer was silly, I was able to “get” why they did it. Even when I thought switching to Mac would just cause me a pain (fears of incompatibility, etc), I always kinda sorta wanted to go there. Even when I thought they couldn’t pull off success in the phone market, I had a sneaking hunch they’d do something a little, shall we say, different, than the rest.
The Apple II was arguably the first mass-market personal computer. The Mac was the first visual computing environment that put ease of use ahead of a command-line interface. The iPod was the first end-to-end solution for digital music. The iPhone transformed phones. The iPad is transforming the entire computing landscape.
Steve certainly didn’t do it alone, and the entire teams he’s had around him for years deserve immense praise. But it’s safe to say that no other inventor, entrepreneur, technologist, CEO, engineer, marketer, product designer, or anyone else has pushed the “consumer” in “consumer technology” so far as Mr Jobs did over the past four decades.
So thank you, Steve, for not just the gadgets, but realistically the entire concept of building technology for the people. You made technology, as you’d probably have put it, delightful.