Steve Jobs passed away this week. It was surprisingly difficult to come to grips with our feelings on this matter. We do not hide the fact that we are not Apple fans, however there were admirable qualities to Steve Jobs that we cannot deny. We broke our thoughts down to a few main characteristics of the man and his legacy:
1. Trend Setter
2. Business Sense
As we discussed these virtues, we worked through the second layer, what about these virtues made us dislike what Steve Jobs stood for, and the answer was simple, we did not like that the list above was not what those sold out to Apple would list, they would list something like:
This is the disparity. In fact in the wake of his passing we have seen claims that he invented everything from tablet computers to mp3 players. We have seen friends lament as though a dear friend has just passed away. We have seen hero worship in the highest form, and most of that goes back to the list of characteristics that he managed to convince those fans were true. That is why we (and others like us) cringe at the praise. It was deception, and many were happy to have the wool pulled over their eyes. Macs are trendy, true, but there is very little in the way of innovation to be found. From mice to touch screens to GUIs, none of these are inventions of Apple, they are assimilations.
So let’s recognize him for his incredible talent, but be honest about what his talent was. He was a fashion designer for gadgets. In a world notoriously lacking aesthetic savvy this turtleneck clad “Coco Chanel” convinced his customers to spend more for a label. It’s brilliant, and it is what fashion has been about for more than a century. My mom can tell you that her Windows computer “just works” … but she does not love Windows the way Apple users love their little Apple stickers. Steve Jobs masterfully created a brand that was loved by many, and that is a talent in itself.
We doubt that the PC vs. Mac war will end soon. The people who get things done on computers will usually admit that both tools will do the job. The most savvy can do more with PCs because their PCs have better specs than any Mac. We do not mind if you want a stylish Mac on your desk, they are prettier than any PC we’re aware of. What we mind is when we hear nonsense about security and reliability come up. When someone makes the generalization “it’s better”… The fact is not only are they not better, but they are worse in many ways. “It just works” another farce. Anyone with significant computer experience can list as many (if not more) ways that a Mac does NOT work, than a PC. My computing amateur friend put it quite nicely when he said: “I know I’ll pay more for less, and that you can do more with a PC than with a Mac, but I like these, they’re really nice.” … That’s what I call an informed decision. Steve Jobs was an artist, as any good fashion designer should be, he was a genius, but not in technology, in style. He deserves respect, but for the right reasons.
As for all of the disinformation and OTT hero worship I’ll leave you with this article: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3318250.html
We voiced months ago our opinion that for many a cult of personality has formed. Cohen (in his article above) does a good job describing our feelings on the matter. Now in his passing quotes are popping up like religious proverbs. Some are wrongly attributed, and others are so uncharacteristic of his actual life that they appear to also be incorrect. There is a real possibility that some spiritual icon is forming around this. I highly suggest a look at Cohen’s article and resisting any urge you have to bring about the, as Cohen says: “beatification of the blessed Jobs of Silicon Valley”.