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Friday, October 07, 2011

R.I.P Steve Jobs: A Tribute

sjobsA couple of days ago I posted the following on Facebook.

“iPhone 4S hardly looks worth wait though Apple fanboys will still queue to get one. Some people would buy a dog turd if it had Apple logo on”

Given the news that Steve Jobs had passed away came less than 48 hours later, that comment might appear at first glance a little harsh. Look a little deeper and you’ll see a compliment about a man who was one of the greatest technological visionaries and business leaders of the last 30 years.

Is there another company out there that can claim a customer base as loyal as Apple’s?  A customer base that will continue to buy in to any product produced, a customer base that has grown and grown in recent years to make Apple so big, they are now one of the world largest companies and have larger cash reserves than the US government.

Let me put my dog turd comment in to perspective with a real world example.
When the original iPhone launched I worked for another mobile phone manufacturer.  At the time all people were bothered about were features (primarily number of megapixels in the camera) and what price plan a phone would be free on.  Essentially if your phone had bigger numbers than the competition and a lower price point you were on to a winner.  And then came the iPhone.

If the company I worked for at the time (or any other mobile manufacturer for that matter) had gone to the mobile networks and said, “here’s our new phone, 2 megapixel camera, no MMS, no video record, only partial Bluetooth support and no 3g, oh and by the way you need to sell it for nearly £300 but the your customers also need to take an 18 month contract paying at least £40 a month of which we want a cut so you’ll have to give your customers fewer minutes/text/data than they would get on any other phone for the same price”, we’d have been laughed out of the room and probably never got to do business with them again.  Yet that is pretty much what Apple, a company with no history in the mobile market did and had major networks fighting it out with each other to get exclusivity on the iPhone.

And that’s the genius of Steve Jobs.  He was able to make people want his products so much that as a complete newcomer to the mobile market he was able to dictate the terms of the deal in a way far more established companies such as Nokia, Motorola and Samsung had never been able to.

It’s not that something such as the App Store was an original idea, just that they were the first company the networks allowed to introduce such a service.  I remember see loads of cool stuff on prototype phones that never made it to the final model because the networks wanted total control of the user experience and services phones could deliver.  Apple and Steve Jobs changed that.

The iPhone itself wasn’t revolutionary, metaphorically speaking other than its UI it was the dog turd of mobile devices for its time, but it did revolutionise the mobile phone industry, just as the Macintosh and iPod before it and the iPad since have helped redefine sections of technology.

People who know me, know I am not Apples biggest fan (not that I particular have any hatred of them either), I don’t own a Mac, iPhone or iPad and don’t see that changing anytime soon.  But without the vision and genius of Steve Jobs, I wonder how many of the gadgets I do have and love would be the same as they are today.  So for that I say, thank you Steve, and may you rest in peace.

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