October 5, 2011
We got the sad news today, Steve jobs, founder of Apple, has passed away. He’d been ailing for a few years and was finally overcome. He was still young in relative terms, but apparently somebody wanted him elsewhere, so he was taken out of this world. Naturally I feel sad and full of loss, not because a ‘friend’ and an icon of my life has passed on, but because one of the drivers and visionaries of our age has left the whelm. Many of us feel alone now. Where do we go from here? In my mind there is little doubt we are living in a time of historic change, even of paradigm shift on the magnitude of the discovery of fire, or the creation of the wheel or the printing press. The fact that I am creating this note by speaking into a device with the dimensions of a sheet of paper that is wirelessly connected to a global network of computers through a satellite link is proof enough. I’m sitting in the middle of the California desert, many many kilometers from any population and yet my voice is thrown thousands of miles into space, turned into text, and returned to this device that I hold in my hand and read on a luminous screen. All this takes place at the speed of light. Such a transcription process is nothing less than stupendous! It is a magic to me, a person born before any of this was even imagined. I could even trade shares on the Tokyo stock exchange from this ‘sheet of paper’ from my desert home or any where else on this planet if I wished. This is the world in which we live and Steve Jobs was one of the drivers of this new reality.
Jobs did not create digital technology, but he did package it and make it available to the world in an easily digestible way. He always kept his company at the forefront of this revolution, driving it and directing it. History will be the true judge of Steve Jobs and his importance in shaping the changes that are taking place in the world today, but I think his contribution is significant.
Beauty has always been the hallmark of Jobs’s creations. The iPhone that I am holding in my hand, which has become the cornerstone of my life, is not only a functional device, it’s a piece of jewelry. Apple products have an elegance and class which makes them shine. Because of the aesthetic’s there is something intellectually satisfying in holding and using Apple products. I have friends who own cell phones, tablets and computers from competitors and even these products often function as well as Apples or even better, in few cases do they have the same aesthetic properties. Steve Jobs has brought design beauty and electronics together. Aesthetics are important to me and honestly I’d rather have a device that’s beautiful even though it may do slightly less than to have a product that simply works but has no beauty. Apple products in general cost more, but I’ve always been happy to pay more in order to get something superior. The design elegance and attention to detail that we see on in Jobs’s work have even spilled over into other companies. Steve Jobs has raised the bar in product design.