Let me first just say that I am a longtime Apple fan. I bought my first Mac ( a Performa) back in 1994, several years before Steve Jobs returned to lead an amazing turnaround at the company. I always thought that the Mac was just outright better than machines based on the IBM PC in terms of ease of use. As a non geek, that was important to me. I still use a Mac as my home computer to this day, and would not consider using anything else in that capacity. They are powerful, easy to use, and reliable. As a fan, I have read more than one book on the history of the company. It is a fascinating story with lots of colorful, brilliant characters.
Having said that, I’m getting a little tired of the, let’s say, deification of Steve Jobs. I’m certainly not trying to be dismissive of what he accomplished in his life. Frankly, he accomplished a hell of a lot. I’m just asking for a little perspective, is all.
Maybe my problem is really with the media and the way they have been covering his life, death, and remembrance. To listen to the talking heads blather on about his “genius”, you would think he was the most brilliant person who ever lived. They talk about how he “created” all these products, including the Mac. He never created ANYTHING. Steve Jobs’ brilliance was in the ability to see the technology available at any given time, imagine how it could be used in new ways, and prod and motivate his engineers to put it in a polished, easy to use product. His attention to detail was legendary, and appreciated by end users like me.
Did the man help shape the technology and music industries? You bet he did. Did he ever use focus groups in product development? Not a chance. He knew that the average person, in general, doesn’t know what they want until you show it to them.
But we also have to remember that he had the good fortune to be growing up at the right time and in the right place. Silicon Valley in the early 70’s. His vision (along with Wozniak’s technical skills) made personal computers, as we know them, a concrete reality for the average person. His status as a founder of Apple Computer gave him the clout and finances to get the Mac project up and running. He accomplished amazing things in his life, and should be celebrated for that.
The man was brilliant. But an authentic Genius? I don’t know. That word, in my opinion, is reserved for a handful of people in human history. Einstein. DaVinci. Maybe I’m wrong – it’s happened before.