Recently I have finished a biography of Mr. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. Now, you may know that I don’t like Apple (or at least I don’t like their approach to customers). Reading that book only convinced me that I am right, but I suppose there will be millions of people out there who will think differently. It’s OK.
I tried very hard not to be biased when reading, but I couldn’t help thinking that Jobs was a… well… how to say it? OK – in my opinion only, from reading this book and not knowing him personally, he was a prick. I would not want to know him as a human being, and I would not really want to work with him, despite all the hype.
The beginning of Apple lies in stealing an idea from Xerox and making it better (as much as the beginning of Windows lie in stealing an idea from Apple). Then this “making things better” strategy coupled with close system approach to business is what made Apple what they are today. Competition with Windows – and later Google – is what shaped the computer business, as those two companies preferred open system strategies.
We can of course draw some lessons from Jobs: attention to detail, fanatic obsession with a product and all things (design, software and hardware) related to it, conviction in decision making and having beliefs which made making those decisions easier and shorter. Consequence in approach and perseverance in getting your idea through to other people. Imagination and freedom to experiment. Ability to see so-called big picture while taking care of small details – and many others. He did, after all, change the shape of music business, created app industry worth billions today – so he was not all that bad. For all those things, he has my respect and admiration. Because of those things, I doubt really if anyone else at Apple now can walk in his shoes. Can this person come up with more products or services in Jobs style? Small hint – you want to know what is coming, check Apple patent filings…
The book though, somewhat indirectly, teaches us something about ourselves. Apple would not be the company it is today if we, as consumers, did not purchase its products. Why do we prefer to be led by our noses instead of having freedom of managing own data, viewing content without limits, or setting or connecting our devices to whatever we want? Are we so lazy or so stupid? Or maybe both?