RIP Steve Jobs

OK. Steve Jobs.

Now, I have never met the man, and yes, I admire him. He took a pretty screwy idea, and set up a small company in his parents’ home. He created the Apple computers.

I had some experience of them. The old Apple IIe used to grace a table in my parent’s home, too. I got it to learn Visicalc which, I was assured, would earn me a fortune. It was so crucial to small businesses and departments. Just that one spreadsheet package, I was told, would earn me fortunes.

Well, perhaps due to my incompetence with computers, it didn’t. In fact, I earned very little from those little boxes. All right, nothing. I sold none.

Some while later, I was tempted to work for Apple again, when they brought out the first Mackintosh. A tall box, with this time only one floppy disk drive, instead of the IIe’s two, this had the brilliant concept of WIMP. Not something you hear about too often nowadays, WIMP at the time was revolutionary. That’s what Apple said, anyway. You haven’t heard of it? No? Can’t have worked, then.

WIMP was the result of collaboration between Apple and Rank Xerox. Remember them? It stood for Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointing device. In other words, everything that is used on computers today. Yes, it was Apple who took it out as an idea and made it work.

(I used to try to sell the Xerox systems after leaving Wang. Nice, big screens, but the technology was so out of date by then, I had to quit the firm because of embarrassment in case I sold one).

And that was my last involvement with Apple. Except I am typing this on my third Apple iMac, while in front of my my iPad is charging, and the iPod is playing in the kitchen.

My latest iMac. Gosh, it's lovely!

My life is not Apple. I use the computers because I have far fewer fears about bugs and viruses infecting my work. And, of course, since I’m an author, I do depend upon the fabulous Scrivener software, which works best with Apple. It also integrates with my iPad. And my phone.

Ah, but that’s where the problem lies. It integrates with my HTC phone. I don’t need Apple.

Steve Jobs did a fabulous job of bringing new ideas and concepts to the market and selling them really hard.

BUT – he was a raging capitalist, red in tooth and claw.

For all the tear-streaked liberals and lefties, who even now are mourning their leader, all I can say is, he sold to you beautifully, folks.

He was no liberal. Apple under him sold high-value goods to people who could hardly afford them. But the aspirational sale worked. He got them spending their hard-earned funds on Pods, Pads and computers. He spawned cartoon strips about Apple users, he got debates going. But he was a fabulously successful businessman.

He didn’t keep manufacturing in the US to maintain US jobs. He moved manufacturing to a far cheaper location in China. And the records appear to indicate that the staff there do not enjoy the benefits of a western lifestyle. Did he care about green issues? Of course, he may have done as a caring father, but as I understand it not one of his millions ever went towards a charity, nor towards planting a tree. Tell me if he did.

No, Jobs was a fabulous showman who could sell any new product. Videos of his sales presentations will no doubt be archived for future generations. But what he was also good at was sharp business practices, feasibly, in trying to block any other company competing. Look at the court cases all over the world against Samsung. Look at the arguments he had with the music industry, with the publishing industry.

Not because he was a socialist trying to bring computers to the masses for as little as possible. No, he was trying to make a monopoly of his business. The brand of Jobs and Apple were inextricably combined in that business.

And now he’s gone, and the business, I foretell, will start to unravel.

Not because I think he was a super genius who could out think his successors. No, it’s just that the world he created has changed almost everything. The iPods are already losing sales in competition with all the other devices coming available. The iPads are fighting against an eruption of vast numbers of different devices. God knows which will win that market. I have a feeling personally that the HTC will be my next purchase, because with that there is a pen. And it means I can stop printing to paper, and achieve much more on the tablet. I wouldn’t have realised that without the Apple iPad, but already I know that my phone (also HTC) is probably better than an iPhone.

The great thing Jobs did was think outside the box and bring to market ideas which were of their time. iPods were an ingenious concept, superbly executed. iPads were positioned just at the time people were looking for easier, more fun access to their games and surfing. Without Jobs at the head of the company, what says Apple will be able to come up with these sorts of game-changing ideas in the future?

I am like so many people now – not brand loyal. Apple won many wars, but the little battles are wearing down every product line Apple has.

Which I think is sort of nice.

Steve Jobs created a wonderful company, in much the same way that Dr An Wang did when he built Wang Laboratories. Both companies thrived under their leaders’ autocratic control, both were determined to built excellence and quality into their equipment, both were dedicated to vast profits. Both left their businesses early, both returned to take over again.

Wang collapsed – from 35,000 jobs worldwide, it went to fewer than twenty in one year. I have a suspicion it’ll take a little longer than one year for Apple, but I wouldn’t invest my money in the firm now.

Still, RIP Steve. You did a lot of good for computer users all over the world.

Even if I never could sell those bloody IIe machines …

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Comments
4 Responses to “RIP Steve Jobs”
  1. Mark Morritt says:

    Nice blog.
    You have made some good points about Jobs, that perhaps needed to be made before his legions made him as iconic as his products. He was charismatic, innovative, far-sighted and ruthless. All the ingredients of a successful leader in today’s cut-throat world of commerce.
    Personally I have never succumbed to the iPhone, although that may be snobbery as it seems as if every man and his dog now has one. The iPad is magnificent (I am writing on one now), but at the same time I am already reviewing the tablets coming onto the Market with an eye towards my next purchase.
    What next for Apple? It’s hard to say. For at least six months now I have wondered about their next step, and early reports seem to indicate that the next generation iPhone is not going to cut it. Whoever takes up the reins should not try to become Jobs 2. After all, does anyone really go to a fruiterer or even a grocers anymore? No. We all go to a supermarket, where the is far more choice.

    Like

    • I don’t have an iPhone. God, I wanted one! But now, I’m glad I don’t, because the HTC I have is a better tool, I think, for what I need. I agree about the iPad, by the way!

      Like

  2. Carole Schultz says:

    Thank you, Michael. The blog was very insightful, and gave room for thought. I was just saddened at the death of someone so young.

    Like

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