Those of you that know me, know that I have nothing but disrespect for the Apple – really, as they have been and always will be synonymous, the Steve Jobs – experience. Are their products elegant, and aesthetically pleasing? Yes. Are they easy to use? To the point that they’ve actually taken out functionality in order to dumb the experience down enough; if you have the need to troubleshoot your wireless connection, or if you want to see the underlying processes that are bogging down your computer … well, you either have to pay the “geniuses” at an Apple store exorbitant amounts of money or deal with it. What about software? Shit out of luck there too. Most of the most innovative software is still written for PC only, so you either have to run 2 operating systems concurrently, or just look longingly at your buddy’s screen. It’s safe to say I’ve never appreciated the fact that Apple has focused on seemingly secondary qualities of personal electronics like aesthetics, and, somehow, made everyone do the same.
But to discount Job’s immense impact on personal electronics is ludicrous. Like Edison and Franklin and Ford and generations of great American innovators before him, Jobs’s work changed everything. Before Jobs, there was nothing personal about electronics or computing. Computers were room sized mechanical machines, that accepted a limited set of user inputs. His work in personal computing changed the world as we know it. It changed our work, our leisure, our money, our economy, our education – literally every aspect of our lives were subtly or directly changed by the work Jobs did in the late 70s and early 80s, and again in the last 10-12 years. Without him, I’d be waiting to feed punch cards into a slot, waiting for someone else to finish feeding their punch cards into a slot, while listening to the 15 songs I can fit on a single CD, or reading a hard copy newspaper that was out of date last night. The very fact that I can post to this blog by simply clicking a few buttons and typing whatever comes out of my head, I owe directly to Jobs’s singular vision and undying commitment to perfection.
Yesterday, we lost that vision and that man’s obsessive pursuit. That the iPhone 4S fell flat on its face gives me no great pleasure today (even if I was cackling in delight after the press conference). An industry titan has fallen, and a giant chasm has been left in his place. How do you replace a Steve Jobs, not in a company, but in the world? In his own words: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose … Death is the destination we all share … that is as it should be. Because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It’s Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” Onward, he implores; to you from failing hands we throw/ the torch; be yours to hold it high. While I don’t look forward to the next iteration of underwhelming Apple hardware, Jobs will be missed. Rest in peace.