While taking a bus to Anaheim,CA I had the chance to watch the recent Steve Jobs film starring Michael Fassbender, and written by Sorokin one of the best writers of his generation. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see this film in the theater I did have an entertaining 2 hours during the bus ride. I found it bizarre that I had lived through the pinnacle of Apple Inc. So I was interested in the narrative that Hollywood was going to portray and if it was going to deviate from my own having lived in the Silicon Valley most of my life. It surprises me to say that they took an interesting approach to the movie. They focused on his relationships with people from his co-founder Steve Wozniak, to his media handler Joanna Hoffman, and his daughter. Even though he is a driven man who has proved that his vision of personal computing does have space in the modern market. Steve Jobs has proved to me that people will pay a premium for products and for software services. For too long the industry only believed in the importance of business to business technology. Jobs vision was entirely based on the importance of personal computing. Which in fairness was not something many had predicted would envelop the world. What he understood more than most was that the most important thing is ease of use. From the Macintosh, iTunes, iPhone, and the iPad. He knew that people didn’t like the stylus pen and that the laymen wanted convenience. The techie wishes for customization and under the hood access. We actually like reading the source code/documentation. What Engineers sometimes forget is that for most what is important is that the technology works not how it works. This is what pushed Jobs he had a vision of how a device should work and he pushed his engineering teams to make this vision come true. Unfortunately, you need to wait for technology to catch up to your vision. Eventually, it did. Simplicity dominates over customizability. How many people actually partition their hard drives? Build their own computers? Crack open their laptop and play with the parts? Play around with robots or raspberry pi? Only the hobbyists, the future engineers, and inventors. Not the layman. In terms of the history of software history Bill Gates a better businessman than he was actually inventor, but in Gate’s defense, he was a coder at least.
But in the field of marketing, no one can rival what Jobs achieved. He sold his overpriced products based on the illusion of quality. The idea that even though the products inside the computer are the same as IBM machines that is not what matters the most. Anyone can jumble a bunch of parts together and make it a computer, but the design and care are what the consumer cares about. Apple cares. Jobs made Apple more than any company presented itself as an institution that was cool and hip. A company that is individualistic in nature. It is only now that he has long passed that I see the immense impact he had. Microsoft has tried to copy much of what Apple did but without success. Why? Their stores are configured the same, but the Apple stores are packed and the Microsoft can barely fill theirs. They missed on a trick and an important one also. The brand. The soul of a company.
So is Jobs a genius? Yes but not as an engineer. Not as a hardware engineer, or software programmer. Leave that for Alan Turning, Steve Waz, Linus Torvald, Dennis Ritchie, and many others who don’t get the big accolades. Computing isn’t sexy but business and marketing is.
Steve Jobs is a marketing genius with a vision of how technology should be consumed. And today this is still evident. Even his greatest detractors like myself cannot deny him that.
Even I had to buy a Mac after many years of denial because I wanted to develop on the iOS and other Mac platforms.
It still sucks though.