An Apple A Day

6 10 2011

The whole world knows it by now. In this era of rapid telecommunications, it took only an hour or so for my Facebook Wall to light up with news, pics, and tributes in memory of Steve Jobs. His death marks the passing not just of a life, but of an era. His forthcoming biography next month will no doubt rocket to the top of the best seller list.

That Steve Jobs revolutionized the way we compute is an understatement. It also misses his broader impact. Yes, we can all revel at the tales of how he and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computers in 1976 in a garage (hey, aren’t all tech startups launched in a garage?). We can ooh and ah over pics of those first efforts. We can even wax philosophic over Steve’s ouster from Apple in the 80s, only to see him return to prominence their in the 90s. That’s all great reading, and would make a nice coffee table book.

But from my angle, he was one of the best marketers to ever live. Yes, that’s coming from a marketing kind of guy, so take it with a milliliter of secret sauce. I really don’t think Steve will be remembered for computing as much as what he did with it all. As I chimed in on a friend’s FB post last night, “Bill Gates may have helped put a PC in many homes and offices, but Steve Jobs put the world in our hands.”

Steve (and notice how we Apple acolytes refer to him in the familiar, not formal) understood what people wanted, even before we knew we wanted it. Or needed it. It wasn’t until the 21st century that Apple came into its own, and it was all because of his visionary leadership and product development.

To wit:

  • iPod (2001)
  • iTunes Music Store (2003)
  • iPhone (2007)
  • App Store (2008)
  • iPad (2010)

Good luck finding someone among us who has not been impacted by one or more (or all) of these. Will somebody please pass the Kool-Aid?

No one masterminded the art of hype better than Steve. His art of understanding consumer needs and wants was bettered only by his ability to command their attention. There are no Windows Rumors sites. Few care at all when Bill Gates speaks. People don’t line up at Microsoft Stores (yes, there really is one) to buy the latest whatever.

You see, Steve Jobs created excitement in our lives. Far more than the computers he sired, he truly did put the world in our hands. Literally. The last decade has seen his “i” lineup of lifestyle products become ubiquitous to the point of even becoming generic. His iTunes Store helped stanch the flow of money lost to music piracy. And his App Store made it possible for us to re-imagine how computing can be done while on the go. Oh, and think about this: all those “i” products were gateway drugs to getting laptops and desktops into people’s homes. I know for a fact that’s how it happened in my house.

When all is said and done, after the flowers have faded and the eulogies are no longer posted to the social graph, Steve will be remembered for the marketing master he truly was. His words to the Stanford Class of 2005 will be printed and quoted for many years. His legacy will live on, even though his successors have mighty big shoes to fill. And we will pay silent tribute to the man every time we pick up our mobile devices and see the world through his lens.

I know that my life is the better for it.

Dr “Be A Yardstick Of Quality” Gerlich

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