Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Billions Don't Impress the Grim Reaper

I was, for the longest time, no fan of Steve Jobs. He seemed a little manic, and I'm guessing that led to his early successes and middle-era failures. He was always a visionary: he just was off in his timing. Hubris, as I saw it, didn't help.

When he fell so hard from grace, I thought he had it coming. Trouble is, people that replaced him, like John Sculley, made him look good. I remember some time, perhaps at the beginning of his comeback, circa mid-90s, he was on Fresh Air, and he told Terry Gross something to the effect that, "We [Apple] had a technology lead of 10 years, 10 years, and in a matter of five years, we were 10 years behind." It was an amazing fall.

When Jobs launched the iMac and the comeback began, I wasn't rooting for him. It was all gimics and, yes, I was so against the elitism (more of the fans than of Apple or Jobs, but...) and the cultism, and with each improvement of the brand, each new success, I was resistant. I was a PC guy, a VW, under-the-hood proletarian, and I was having nothing of this frou-frou, this cultism.

I won't dwell on what won me over, only to say that I, like so many others, was finally won over. Jobs did the impossible: he dispelled his reputation from the Lisa, the Newton, and, with the iPod, showed that he got what the others didn't. With iTunes, he showed that he knew hard ball better than the proletariat. Only a tough guy could cut through the bullshit and make the record moguls know the game was up and they'd better get on-board.

I admit I didn't care or need the iPhone because I don't want people to find me easily. The iPad I liked better but wished it was more accessible, price-wise, to the people.

As for Pixar, that was management genius. He knew how to acquire property and make it flourish. No Chain-saw Al was he.

Pixar v. Disney demonstrated more of the same. Mess with Steve Jobs over distribution or some such? Weeks later Disney owned Pixar, and Steve Jobs owned 7% of Disney. What's left to say?

It's not important that I like affordable computing for the masses, more Ford Focuses in the hands of people and fewer BMWs. So what? Steve Jobs made stuff that people had to have, and he did it with style, drive, and determination. And the stuff rocked, it broke boundaries. An Edison? I don't know, time will tell. But Lord knows he put together a great shop down in Cupertino. May it live long and prosper.

Steve Jobs RIP.

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