I was fighting a bad flu and throat infection, and working through email back log and also checking in on twitter as usual today afternoon. And then I saw a tweet from Associated Press ( @AP) that Steve Jobs died. I just was stunned. I could not move, or even think for some time.
I did not know him – never met him, never heard him live, I did not even buy as many Apple products as most people – but I thought all this time that I knew him well somehow. I have a feeling I am not the only one feeling that way now.
“Game changing” is an often used term in the enterprise software world – and I, and many others have rolled our eyes many a time when we heard the phrase. And I have lost count of the number of times people have explicitly held enterprise world to Apple’s standards to make a point that it is not in the same league yet. Steve Jobs set the gold standard for game changing, and it is a bar set high enough not to be challenged that easily.
When people said “consumer” – they meant Apple for the most part, and when people said “Apple” – they almost always meant “Steve Jobs”. How many people are in that league? Maybe Henry Ford or Einstein and a couple of others. Just being alive during his life time feels like an honor.
I have read many times that he was stubborn, controlling and so on. Another person with those qualities might not have succeeded – but Jobs did. And I believe he did so because he understood exactly what the customers needed and wanted, often before customers themselves needed or wanted any of it. And he was able to articulate it to the world in a way that was unique to him. If the rest of us can aim to move in that general direction – I think the world will be a better place in many ways.
His products were not perfect. I complained bitterly on battery life of iPhones for ever. But despite constantly having to charge the thing, I cannot even imagine using a blackberry anymore. I have switched phones before for not having good battery life, but the iPhones features far outweighed this problem for me. He wowed us with products, got us hooked with near perfection from the first release – and then got us to upgrade (spending more money) with subsequent releases. Now – that is genius right there in my eyes.
I don’t know how many other CEOs had the mix of an artist’s soul and a technician’s brain. He used them both in the right ratio. Plus he proved to be a great CEO in the traditional sense too – hiring the right people, and managing for the long term. We saw how Apple ran succesfully with a COO leading the charge, when Jobs was out on extended leave. And the moment he could not do that job, he resigned. He did not have to hunt for another CEO – he had that already from within. Is there any wonder investors constantly kept faith in Apple, despite knowing that Jobs might not be there for ever?
And yet today, we must reconcile to the fact that like the rest of us, he was a mere mortal. My big regret is that I never got to meet the man in person. If I tried hard enough, I am sure I could have made that happen. It is a good lesson for me not to postpone important decisions for ever.
To the best designer yet in my lifetime, to the best CEO yet in my lifetime, to the best innovator yet in my life time , to the only true game changer yet in my life time – You will be an inspiration for this and many generations , and will live in our thoughts for ever.
Rest in Peace, Mr.Jobs . God Bless