Friday, October 21, 2011

Steve Jobs, Frank Lloyd Wright and Coco Chanel.

Good Evening Everyone,
Much, probably too much, has been written of Steve Jobs' life, death and the further trials and tribulations of Apple, but as a recovering Apple evangelist (ca 1988), I feel the need to spend some electrons on it.

While it is not a term in common use any more, I suspect that a classical writing of history would put Jobs in the "Great Man" category, though perhaps with a better family life than the typical Great Man. A revisionist would spend all of his time focused on the foibles and failings of Jobs, pointing out that he was a perfectionist, an information control freak, and an intellectual bully. Gawker has a fairly detailed story on the downsides of interacting with Jobs, and if you get tired of all of the wedding cake flavored obituaries, have a look.

For me, though, the emotional connection to Jobs shows that the world lost an artist a little over two weeks ago, one that affected much of our everyday life. Anyone involved in the computer industry knows that Gates was the better businessman, Wozniak a superior engineer, Kay a better researcher, Kapor the leader in charitable work (though Gates has done well recently)...but Jobs was Frank Lloyd Wright dealing with civil engineers, or Coco Chanel working with seamstresses. His taste, and his taste alone, mattered.

Apple, in Jobs 2.0, could see the opportunity to take drab beige boxes and make them colorful, combining software, hardware and music together to create and dominate the portable music market, and after twenty years of hearing about how gorilla arm made touchscreens unusable, building a mediocre phone but awesome palmsized computer, followed by the smashing success of the iPad....not a bad run for a guy who took time off from computing to go build a movie business and get rich all over again by selling it to Disney.

RIP Steve. I never knew you, but my life is better for it all the same.