The day that many people in tech dreaded was coming soon, arrived yesterday.
Mr. Steven P. Jobs, Chairman and co-founder of Apple Computer; holder of over 300 patents; and all-around business genius, died of Pancreatic cancer yesterday, and the world that he changed is in mourning. He leaves behind his wife Laurene Jobs, and three children.
There is more than enough commentary available online, on tv, and in print, of course, roughly 30 hours later. The internet in particular, of course, is flooded with discussions due to the magnificent scope and earth-shattering nature of Mr. Jobs contributions to the world of business and technology. Therefore, I will limit my thoughts to what I think i can add to the conversation, that hasn’t already been said.
I have not yet read anything in the media or online about Mr. jobs passing yet. I wanted to keep it that way until after i had published this blog article, so that it’s truly my perspective.
Steve’s last great presentation
Mr. Jobs did many things very well.
One of them, that he turned into an art form, was to give great presentations about new Apple products. He was so good at it, that it came to be known as “falling under the Steve Jobs reality distortion field”. Even those that understood the phenomena, would chuckle about falling for it – every time.
Grown men and women, knowing better, would go into his presentations and come out babbling like children about how great everything they had seen was. There were always lines at the Macworld conferences throughout the night, of attendees hoping to get into product launch events.
I enjoyed this photograph of Steve and his wife Laurene, taken by a number of photographers moments apart, after he had addressed the Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) back in June. But it is really, a very sad photography. Because clearly, Steve and Laurene knew that it would be the last time that he would be able to deliver that speech.
Despite the sadness, in my opinion that is truly “a million dollar photograph”. There were a number of photographers present at the conference, so there are many different versions of this photo. Some of them, are better than others (welcome to the era of digital photography).
The photographer is unknown, but credit is due if it is found. This jpeg will be Watermarked for the photographer, along with a link to their site once I know who took it.
My 2009 interview with Lisa Amin from ABC News San Francisco
The day that Mr. Jobs took his first medical leave of absence from Apple due to health reasons, Lisa Amin of ABC News / San Francisco did the logical thing. She came to Los Gatos, CA to look for the other Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniac (“the Woz”). She found him. And she went to the Apple Store.
Somebody apparently told her to look me up, as after calling Lisa and her cameraman came to my place in Los Gatos. The main thought i shared with them was, “Mr. Steve Jobs, is the modern day Thomas Edison of our time. Everyone wishes him, and his family the very best on his health, and recovery”. Then I proceeded to hold my breath for three years:
Was Steve Jobs really the Thomas Edison of the modern computer industry?
I recently found myself with the good fortune to be in small, private debate at a conference with some of Jobs’ direct reports and advisers who worked with him closely over the years. The debate concerned whether Steve was indeed the Thomas Edison of our era, as i had suggested in the ABC video? Or, perhaps whether instead, he is really the Henry Ford of our generation. Or maybe even the Albert Einstein of the computer industry. It turns out, that Mr. Jobs had photos of all those business geniuses, on the walls of his office; and that he had studied them his whole life. They even appeared in some versions of the legendary “1984” TV commercial (which launched the Macintosh) created by Chiat Day.
Taking a run at putting “a reality distortion field” on Mr. Jobs
My thoughts go back to the day in 1990 when I presented one of my own inventions, to Steve Jobs while he was creating NeXT Computers. It was “EitherNet”, an eighth member of Chips and Technologies’ 7-chip PC chipset, that could run both PHY and MAC layers for 802.3 (Ethernet) and 802.5 (Token Ring).
We were delayed in starting our meeting, because Steve Jobs was in the lobby having his photo taken for the cover of Fortune Magazine. He was tough and mercurial, as expected; but he also extended some sizable deal-making favors afterward.
Switching to the Mac – until it stuck. And did it ever.
I switched to the Mac four times, over the years… starting with the day the first Mac came out, when i lived in New Jersey. I took it with me on trip down the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, to my Hotel Room at a Casino in Atlantic City. Using MacDraw was so enchanting, that i had trouble leaving my room to attend my conference, or enjoy the Casinos.
Guy Kawasaki talks about being similarly enchanted by MacDraw, in his 9th and newest book. It caused him to get a job with Apple as “their marketing dude”. I still run into people who tell me they “miss the MacDraw experience”…
The last time I “switched” to Mac was five years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. I no longer want, or use any Microsoft Windows Operating System or Microsoft software. Nothing, not even under an emulator or virtual machine.
Going “100% Mac OSX and Apple IOS” has been an excellent decision for me. I do use an Android-based Samsung cell phone to complement my iPhone, but that is just an experiment. The Android operating system borrows heavily from iOS and the iPhone; and is getting slicker every quarter. But overall, it doesn’t hold a candle to my iPhone.
I guess you could say i like Apple’s products
I have owned a dozen MacBook Pro 17″ machines; a half dozen MacBook Pro 15’s; at least 8 MacBook Airs of all different versions and screen sizes; a $7k “Mac Pro” desktop system; at least 8 large-screen Apple monitors; over 20 iPhones of different versions and storage capacities; several iMacs, iPods, and 9 iPads.
I can honestly say that each one was a delight, and i do not regret purchasing a single one. Not to mention all the terrific software that they run.
Like a Porsche, Apple computers are fine instruments – high quality – so they hold their value. You can often sell an Apple product for more than you paid for it, some time later, and trade into something else without taking a hit.
Apple Computer re-invented the retail store business model
I have done business in over 25 Apple stores, from the big three in New York City, to Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, Salt Lake, Renton, Portland, to every one in Las Vegas, San Diego, LA and all over the Bay Area. The level of service and the excellent attitude of the young employees has re-invented retailing.
Companies come in from all over the world to study how Apple conducts the operations in it’s retail stores. In New York City, two retail storefronts gross over one billion dollars a year; and a “super-store” is about to open, to put that to shame.
Apple Computer re-invented the relationship between a large Corporation, and the individual consumer
For $99 a year, you can get personal training on anything software or hardware, for one hour per week (up to 52 sessions per year). They will teach you how to move from a PC to a Mac, on down the list to the most advanced, esoteric software training. It rocks.
Diversity of talent… but always, “insanely great”.
Mr Jobs was the financier and the force behind Pixar Animation Studios, which he provided financing for, and ran before taking over Apple for the second time. He became the largest stockholder in the Walt Disney Company and a board member of Disney, when he sold them Pixar. Recently at Apple Computer, he was just starting to get serious about re-inventing the consumer experience in cloud computing, with the just-launched iCloud services that replaced MobileME. You can bet, that iCloud will be “insanely great” – slick and useful. Everyone that pays attention to Apple, knows that already.
Steve Job’s roots
There is a great article in the Wall Street Journal about Steve Jobs’ biological roots – Syria. His father was born in Syria, is an intellectual, loves Apple products, uses Facebook and Twitter, and is widely admired as an excellent Casino Manager. He is a practical fellow, and has a lot of charming attributes. The bigger upshot is, that Steve Jobs has roots on the Arabian Peninsula. So the Arab world is excited that he is “one of theirs”. Steve Jobs also had terrific, dedicated adoptive parents, who he appreciated and respected throughout his life.
I say, good for his Arabian roots – because the future is about BUILDING airplanes, NOT ramming them into high-rise office towers. Mr. Jobs set quite a positive example, for them to follow in the future. The Arab world should be proud; he’s a great example of another path.
What is the ultimate lesson?
Here’s what I told my kids – Alexander Bell (8), and Annette Bell (10). The lesson of Mr. Jobs life is this.
Despite the complexity of the world today – with all of the big Corporations, big Government, people yelling at you on Cable TV, the over-populated prisons, and other negatives. Despite all that being a reality today, none of that has any impact on the lesson that is pertinent here. And that lesson is that despite all of that, ONE PERSON can impact the lives of Billions of people in a positive way. Armed simply with the right attitude, and the right motivation.
Steve Jobs latest re-invention of “The Personal Computer”
I believe that Steve Jobs and Apple Computer have fundamentally re-invented the notion of what a “personal computer” is, especially with the iPad. Eventually most desktop and laptop computers will become powerful slates – with adjunct keyboards.
But then again, who knows. Because we don’t have Steve Jobs to look out the front windshield and figure it out for us anymore.
We’re going to miss you, Mr. Jobs…
Steve Bell Los Gatos, California October 6, 2011