A Pause for Thought
Just a day after the launch of the latest iPhone model, Apple's co-founder and chairman Steve Jobs has passed away. Impromptu shrines at Apple stores around the world have appeared as fans of Apple products mourn the passing of a man who tore down and built whole markets.
Look almost anywhere on the Web today, and the top story is the passing of Steve Jobs: the BBC, CNN, Le Figaro, Die Welt, The Melbourne Age and countless others. Not only in the papers, but on entertainment sites, business and media columns, Amazon's Japanese site -- pretty much everywhere.
This isn't a Princess Diana-like outpouring of random grief, but reflects the solidity and importance of Jobs' and Apple's impact on the consumer, technology and the everyday world we live in. All the obituaries, statements from people who knew Jobs all note the key to Apple's success: A singular focus on function and simplicity.
My first exposure to the iWay of life was a 2004 third-generation click-wheel iPod. I still have it, and it still works. The way the packaging box opened, like receiving a treasured item. The genius of the click wheel to spin through up to 20GB of music to easily find what you wanted was just a hint of things to come from Jobs and Apple. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Apple Way
Love or hate Apple -- and it's a lot harder to love a company that's an industry leader, no longer the snappy upstart and underdog -- no one can deny its massive influence in bringing computers and consumer technology together in ways that benefit the user.
Phones with no keys, tablets that work the second you turn them on, music players the size of a stamp -- others have invented or made such things and, arguably, better ones, but no one else has really got the product, the infrastructure, the marketing and the pure focus on doing it well, so that it "just works," right.
Apple has done that and will continue to do so -- it is hard to believe Jobs didn't have a plan for the next five to ten years. Whether the execution and the perfectionism will still be present will be something every critic on the planet will be looking for with a microscope.
But, for today, just remember the first time you saw, tried or brought an Apple product, remember the moment it came out of the box. For a few seconds it felt like playing with the future. Steve Jobs used to do that every day. He was a lucky man.
But he only got that "lucky" by being that great.