A few thoughts on Steve Jobs

I’m not going to try to write some amazing Steve Jobs tribute, as that has been done over and over this week (by people who can make it far more interesting and informative than I could), but I do have a few thoughts that have run through my mind since the news of his passing a few days ago…


1.
It makes me sound like a total nerd, but in my adult life, I estimate that I have been either directly interacting with, or at least in the presence of an Apple product more than 50% of my waking hours. And that is probably a very conservative estimate. Perhaps this just says that I haven’t been on enough camping trips, but I think that is pretty incredible.


2.
Pretty much everything I have ever done to earn a paycheck has been made with an Apple computer (and primarily Adobe products). Seriously. Every paycheck. Also, most of the projects I did to earn my college degree. Granted, a machine is just the means to actually get the work produced, not the thought and strategy behind it. But given that I use the technology to produce the visual look and feel of a piece, it’s pretty important.


3.
The majority of my current information gathering and news reading, as well as personal entertainment is through the display of an Apple product. The exception is television, though I do stream Netflix through my Apple TV. Did I mention that I also call, iChat and occasionally video chat with my mom through Apple devices? I got her a used MacBook a few years ago. She has recently purchased a new iMac and iPad 2. You know what they say, “Once you go Apple, you never go back.” Well, maybe that’s what they say about something else, but I think it’s true for Apple products. :-)


4.
I was re-reading this article from Fast Co. Design today (though it was published several weeks ago following his retirement announcement) entitled “What Made Steve Jobs So Great?” and it reminded me that you used to have to page through a thick manual of instructions every time you bought a new piece of technology, gathering information about how you could actually make the thing work. Starting with the iMac, Jobs presented a “it should just work” way of doing things. Take it out of the box. Plug it in (or in some cases not). Turn it on. You’re off.

At first, Apple continued to include a small manual with some bare bones instructions, but basically, if it wasn’t self-explanatory, Jobs thought it wasn’t designed well enough to hit the market. There is really something to be said about that kind of attention to detail, product design, interface design, etc. Within 10 years, Apple products were shipping without any kind of instructions at all. The article mentions toddlers gesturing through iPad apps and menus and I’ve seen evidence of it myself. Recently, I saw my two year old nephew navigating an iPad and playing games on it before he was even able to speak. Pretty amazing. That article is a pretty good read if you get a chance.


5.
When the iMac came out, it was the first time I can remember a consumer product having all of the different “flavors” of plastic that would allow the consumer to feel like they could make a more personalized purchase of a mass-produced item. The number of other brands / products that saw how smart that business model was and started copying it can not even be counted. And not just in consumer electronics.


6.
This is not earth shattering news to anyone in the industry, but the product and interface design, packaging, and advertising of Apple products has been as groundbreaking and influential to design as any other brand. Not to mention, Jobs cared about typography and made sure everything looked as good as it worked. They’ve been rewarded by now being able to claim their stocks are as valuable as any company on the planet. Not bad for a niche technology company that could never compete with the IBM’s and Microsoft’s of the world.

That’s about all I’ve got. To Steve Jobs, thanks.


 


 

The list of Apple products I’ve owned, starting my freshman year of college is as follows (in order— text below / shown above):


PowerMac G3 Aqua (Not pictured…I forgot that I had it until after I originally wrote this post. It was stolen from my dorm room over Spring Break of my freshman year in college.. insurance upgraded me to the G4)

PowerMac G4 Graphite desktop and monitor (Still have it. Still works, though really just for music and web browsing)

iBook G3 Indigo clamshell (To this day, probably one of the coolest designed products I’ve ever seen… it had a handle!)

Original iPod - 5 GB (Five physical buttons and a plastic wheel that actually turned… and was built like a brick. Still have it. Still works)

Titanium PowerBook G4 (Shipped running both OS 9 and OS X… you could choose which you wanted to boot into on startup)

iPod – Now referred to as iPod Classic {pre-color} which still functions as my primary portable music playing device on road trips)

White MacBook G4 (Replaced the PowerBook after about 5 years, which I thought was a pretty good run for something in the world of computers… sold it to my sister and is still going strong)

Time Capsule (Broadcasts the entire internet invisibly throughout all the rooms in our apartment!… also a wireless backup and storage drive)

16GB iPod Touch (One of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received from my then girlfriend, now wife… you don’t let those get away)

32 GB iPhone 4 (For anyone running a small business — or a fantasy sports team — the iPhone will change your life)

Apple TV (Crap. Also not pictured. Oops. Well, it looks like the Time Capsule but smaller and black)

MacBook Pro IntelCore i7 (Pixels have never looked so good)

 

I know what you’re thinking. No iPad? Well, maybe the next version with the Retina display will suck me in.

iMatt

Update: My place of employment, Periscope, gifted me a $500 technology credit at FirstTech… iPad 2 acquired!