He would have smiled at the irony of it. His greatest competitor launching a flagship product targeted at his company’s device, a day after his birthday.
Mind you, not many seemed to have noticed the coincidence. For a few years after His passing, every February 24 had been marked by an outpouring of tributes and emotions and books, about the man who everyone acknowledges has been the most charismatic CEO in tech history. Even his enemies concede he has done more than any other human to make the smartphone such an integral part of our lives – at the time, some manufacturers had even advised us to steer clear and focus more on life itself (hello, phone life balance).
It has been almost seven years since Steve Jobs left us.
And, actually, until Tim Cook tweeted about His birthday, many of us had totally forgotten. The geek brigade was too busy getting excited about an event that Apple, ironically, had never attended – the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona.
Seven years is a long time, isn’t it?
A lot, of course, has happened since. Chinese brands have defined the budget premium phone, there are as many cameras as processor cores in devices, some phones have more RAM now than the first iPhone had storage, and yes, we struggle to use today’s iPhones with one hand. Indeed, the world has changed.
But a lot has also stopped happening, in this time.
Leaks have replaced launches. (We are no longer surprised by them anyway, as every phone feature is either deliberately or deliberately accidentally leaked). Gadgets seem to have become much more about numbers than feelings — or as some would say, specs rather than experience. The world of technology has become as much of a nuisance as an asset – it’s par for the course to be told by total strangers to stop using phones, get off social networks and other potentially life-changing behaviour. Presentations have got sleeker and more predictable. There’s a lot more material out there.
And a lot less magic.
Would it have been different if He was around? It is tempting to say it would. After all, He was bloody minded enough to ignore what the market wanted, at the time. “A lot of people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” is one of Steve Jobs’ most repeated quotes. Some found him insufferably arrogant, but even they can’t deny that He was the world’s last unpredictable CEO out there. You never really knew what happened when Jobs got on stage – hell, he even did physical contortions once when the presentation for the first iPhone crashed – many believe it was his greatest presentation ever.
He would have been 63 today. I wonder sometimes if he would have still worn a black turtleneck, battered jeans and white shoes. Would he have shrunk or looked more wizened. Perhaps he would have done something with what remained of his hair…a ponytail maybe, who knows? One doesn’t know. One never did. That was the magic of Steve Jobs. You could love the guy. Or hate him. Call him the closest thing to a God. Curse him as a blot on the human landscape. Hail him as a tech enabler. Despise him as a promoter of premium niche products.
But you could never ignore him. Or the technology or product he was talking about. He didn’t just think differently, He DID differently too. And made the world realise what he was doing. That, perhaps, is his biggest contribution to our world. Not the Macintosh. Not the iMac. Not the iPod. Not the iPad. Not even the iPhone or the hundreds of apps that have since come our way.
It was Jobs who showed us the simple fact that technology could be both interesting and accessible. And hey, fun to follow. He put theatre into technology. And no matter how charismatic he himself was, the product was always the star. Always. Which is why for all the talk of his ego and arrogance, somehow I feel he would have approved of people being more worried about technology than about his birthday.
Would things have been different if he was still around? I don’t know. I just know that without him, they’re are not the same. Happy belated birthday, Mr Jobs.