Today would have been Steve Jobs’ 57th birthday. Certainly in my lifetime, no one person has revolutionized so many different industries as Steve Jobs. The personal computer, music, retail, movie, mobile phone, app and tablet industries were redefined by his insight, efforts and marketing skills. Who even knew what an App Store or a tablet was before Apple introduced them? Even those who knew what a tablet was couldn’t come up with a good reason to have one.
As a contemporary of Steve Jobs, I can remember hearing about these guys building computers in their garage in California and thinking how cool that was. (As a frame of reference, while most women ask for jewelry from their husband for a wedding present, I asked for and got a TRS-80. Total geek.)
Our son was not quite three years old when Pixar released Toy Story in 1995 so I actually had a valid reason to go to the theater to see the movie. I had heard much about Pixar and Steve Job’s purchase of it from George Lucas a decade earlier. I was intrigued to see what all of the fuss was about. I had never seen anything quite like it and it is still one of my favorite movies today.
It is often said that Steve Jobs told consumers what they wanted and I think that’s very true. My favorite story from Walter Isaacson’s book, Steve Jobs, is when Mr. Jobs talked about Apple’s aversion to focus groups. He said Henry Ford was much the same way. Mr. Ford once said that if he asked the pubiic what they wanted, they would have replied “Faster Horses!” because they didn’t know that there was any other option or that they could want anything else. Steve Jobs definitely prescribed to the same philosophy. Who knew that we wanted to carry around 1,000 songs in our pocket, wanted a phone that was also a computer with email and internet access on it or wanted a tablet? And who knew what in the heck an app was? The answer, of course, is Steve Jobs. While a true pioneer in the ‘home computer’ market, neither he nor Apple invented the mouse, a GUI OS, music players, smartphones or even tablets but he understood what features were necessary to have them deliver good ‘user experiences’ and ultimately become wildly successful consumer products. While Apple was not always the first to offer these products, Steve Jobs understood, some would even say preached, the importance of a good user experience.
Often overlooked in terms of Apple’s impact under the tutelage of Steve Jobs is the impact to the overall consumer products industry beyond the products themselves. If you consider the amount of ‘support’ industries (app developers, publications, or manufacturers/suppliers of accessories, for example), the impact of the Steve Jobs suite of products is pretty staggering.
I definitely live in the ‘Apple ecosystem’ at home and will miss hearing about ‘one more thing’ from Steve Jobs at the Apple events.