A Non-Mactard Remembers Steve Jobs

I’m not a heavy Apple-product user. My first Apple product, an iPod was three years ago – it amazed me by its minimalism(“what? Only one button on it?”), but I never got around to using it very often. But I gave up on a Mac within 30 minutes of trying it because its touchpad and usability were far too unfamiliar to me.

Yet, I can still think of many ways in which Apple and Jobs have influenced me.

What, to me, was more of an influence than the products themselves, was the man himself – the fact that so much he did was counter-intuitive.

The speech at Stanford.

The do-you-want-to-sell-sugar-water quote.

The 1984 ad.

Jobs’ disdain for market research.

The story of how he dropped out, spent time wandering India, built a company, got fired from his own company, founded companies in a completely unrelated field, came back with Apple teetering on the brink – and yet succeeded in a building a remarkable company. The way he stepped down, as they say, as his peak – and died as suddenly.

What I thought was remarkable was that he built a company like Apple without the deliberate numbers-and-scale focused drive typified my most CEOs like Welch(I cant see Jobs writing a book that sounds anything like ‘Winning’, or ‘working his way up’ like Welch).

What Apple also did differently was to focus not on money, but on great products(see this interview with Jonathan Ive – the design SVP of Apple). Apple’s design wasn’t anonymous – it was distinctive, elegant. Apple made good design profitable – Apple isn’t only the most valuable company in the world, it also makes two-thirds of the profits of the hypercompetitive mobile-phone-manufacturing industry.

This was reassurance that you didn’t need hard-nosed focus on money or ‘process’ to do well – that intuition would do just fine. All of this was inspiring, heady stuff – the fact that I wasn’t using Apple products much didnt stop me from admiring the man from what I read of him.

Steve Jobs & Wozniak
Steve Jobs & Wozniak

Apple had many failures. But even allowing for the fact that a part of Jobs’ aura and myth was because of the way he marketed himself, his has been a remarkable story. Even though I’d hardly call myself a heavy Apple-product user, I find myself amazed by what he’s accomplished – and by the suddenness of his departure.

My Twitter timeline’s been full of news of Jobs’ death this morning(and it was on an iPhone that I read this news in bed this morning) – reflecting how much of spontaneous feeling there has been about his death.

How do you guys feel about him and about Apple? What have been your memories?

Strong as Jobs’ legacy is, do you think Apple can carry on and continue to be the remarkable company that it’s been?

Watch Steve Jobs’ Stanford Speech Video.

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