RIP: Steve Jobs
I will admit that I was shocked when I heard Steve Jobs had died last night. I was sitting on a train, with people looking at me strangely when I openly said "Oh my God!" It was only a month and a half ago when Jobs handed the torch to COO Tim Cook. At the time we all speculated on Apple's future, but assume Jobs would be around for 20-30 more years before passing. This was a big surprise to many.
I guess Steve's ailments were worse than we were led to believe. For those who might now know, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004, and went on a long struggle with it, while at the same time still trying to run Apple. He finally stepped down as CEO in late August of this year.
My past relationship with Apple
It's no secret that I've not ever been a deep fan of Apple. I had originally used an Apple II back in the early 80s, when one was put in my school classroom. At the time I didn't even think or wonder about Windows or Mac OS, as neither existed. Over the years, I grew from a Commodore 64 into a Windows 3.1 machine.
As I went though college, I started to really notice what many now love to call the "Apple fanboys" or "Cult of Steve". They were the few who used Macintosh computers and yet constantly held an elitist opinion that seemed more annoying than anything. It would be of ridicule that many of us used Windows and had not "seen the light", some even referencing the idea of the famous 1984 Macintosh ad where we just happily accept what is there.
I'll say it, this is a lot of what initially turned me off to Apple products. I'm not totally judging Apple on this, but it was part of it. Let's also throw out there that my first time using a Mac was in the late 90s when Steve was working on NeXT and thus the people I hear all the time about were running Apple into the ground. Regardless, I was happy with my Windows PC.
Over the years, I had ended up in Windows environments when I got into doing web work. I think a lot of it simply was because these were startups that couldn't afford Macs, and in the beginning a lot of web designers/developers were using Windows PCs, as Macs had been the domain for sound, video, and print design. It actually wasn't until 2003 that I finally ended up working in a Mac environment, although the machines they put me on did not leave me with a good impression of Apple.
So here we are in the present day, and while I am typing this up on a better working Mac at my current job, I still seemingly never gave Apple the loyalty I've seen others give. Sitting next to me is an Android tablet, and my desktop and laptop at home are both running Windows 7. The only Apple product I currently own is my iPhone.
I think about when Jobs pushed us to "Think Different" in his old ad campaigns, and I usually like to equate that with "Think for yourself". That's a push many made back in the early 90s with the whole "Generation X" thing. I never fault Apple fans for their love of the company and their devices, but I do roll my eyes when I see the cult worship become insane, like with Antennagate.
I like that I never really pledged loyalty to anyone in the technology world, because it's how I look at "Think Different". I like having choice, and it's something I've always pushed every time Steve made a decision I didn't agree with. I'll always be amazed when I meet DJs and designers who think I'm not "serious" or "the real deal" because my laptop doesn't have a glowing Apple logo on it. In my opinion, they're the ones literally misunderstanding what Steve was pushing.
How Steve affected my life
I will not sit here like some and believe all Apple users are "sheep" or make jokes on how Apple will fare now that Steve isn't around. My hope is that his life, the positive things we remember of it, will inspire millions. Not to buy or build Apple products, but to keep pushing the envelope to build a better world.
Let's be honest. How many of us regularly listen to vinyl records or even CDs anymore? I remember my brief stint at Best Buy, when the first iPods came out. Granted Creative and iRiver had MP3 players on the market first, but it was those iPods that captured attention, and then years later I could not go anywhere and not see those white headphones. I bought my first iPod in 2005, and now I can't fathom going back to any other way to listen to music.
Look at video even. Not just movies you can buy off iTunes, but the ability to rip and convert your DVD collection to play on all these devices from all the companies. I remember getting on an eight-hour flight to Europe, and having put a bunch of movies on my iPhone. Not even just to pass time in the flight, but also to have something to watch when I'm chilling in a hotel room, and everything on their TV is in a foreign language.
Who ever thought we would pull up
our boarding pass on a tablet?
The Android tablet I mentioned. We can talk back and forth on comparisons, but I remember tablets before the iPad. They were laptops with a flipping screen. Now they're 7 and 10-inch slates that we consume media on. We have to thank Steve for that.
How about the Windows on my PC? Windows 7. I remember the commercials where someone said "Windows 7 was my idea", and I jokingly admit that it was really Steve's idea, as I see plenty of similarity between it and OS X. We can even go back further and say it was Xerox's idea, but the move to turn computers from command lines into "point and click" with a mouse was the drive both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak pushed.
Look at the world we live in now. We hold personal communicators and use slate tablets like we saw in Star Trek. We easily access information from all over the world and share it with one another. We do amazing things with these hunks of metal and plastic all the time. Steve Jobs wasn't the only person to thank for this, but he's one of them.
That's an easy question. We push on. We strive to think bigger, better, different, and build the world into being more amazing than it was. I don't care if you're a designer, DJ, programmer, engineer, lawyer, doctor, secretary, construction worker, etc. We can sit forever in mediocrity, or push like Steve did, and hopefully Tim Cook will.
I never sat there thinking he came up with everything originally. I mean, look at that Xerox OS that later became Mac OS and Windows. However, I give Jobs credit in seeing new ideas and saying "this can be done better". It's why I use an iPhone as opposed to a Blackberry. It's why I try to get off paper and use my email, laptop, smartphone, and tablet to handle the tasks. It's why I always push myself to do my work better, and yet to always think for myself, aka "Think Different".
We may not have always agreed on everything Steve, but I thank you for what you gave the world, and hope you're getting some much-deserved rest.
Share your own thoughts if you like.