I find myself incredibly sad and bitter about the passing of Steve Jobs today. Ashley told me the news while I was preparing Carson’s bedtime bottle tonight and I felt like someone punched me in the stomach.
I never met Steve Jobs. I never corresponded with Steve Jobs. I’ve never been to any huge Apple event. I barely own any Apple products, save my beloved iPhone. I’m far from what you’d call an Apple fanboy, and yet ever since I heard the news I’ve felt like someone close to me has died. I’ve felt like crying all night.
It’s difficult to overstate the loss that the world has suffered today with the passing of Steve Jobs. You may not like Apple. You may not like any of their products. You may not like the cult-like following they developed over the years.
But you have to love Steve Jobs.
Why? Because Steve Jobs stood up to Stuff That Sucks and was a champion for Stuff That’s Awesome.
Look around you and you’ll find that there aren’t nearly enough people or companies doing either. Look closely and you’ll find a few people and companies that are doing it, but not nearly to the level that Steve Jobs was.
Most people do enough to get the job done. Most companies do enough to get the job done.
And that’s why most things these days are good enough but not awesome. It’s why your car is good enough to get you where you need to go but you’re not telling everyone you know to go buy a Camry because of how amazing it is. It’s why most restaurants are an okay place to go and fill your belly but you’re not dying to have your next meal at Applebee’s because it’s so outstanding. It’s why our government is the way it is. It’s why our schools and universities are the way they are.
They’re good enough. They’re not great. They’re products of people saying, “What can we do that’s marginally better than what’s out there now? What can we do to just keep things moving along?”
Steve Jobs asked, “What can we do to amaze people? What can we do to set this industry on its ear? What can we do to blow this whole thing up and put out something that not only doesn’t suck, but will blow people’s minds?”
People forget that only 5 years ago, in 2006, the cell phone industry was pure shit. Nokia, Samsung, and Motorola were churning out only slightly better renditions of the same shitty phones they had been producing for the past five years. Two main buttons. T9 typing. Shitty software. Shitty interfaces. It took tons of clicks to do anything worthwhile, and even then the functionality was lame, at best.
There was no excuse for it being 2006 and the state of mobile technology being that poor. But it was because the big players of the day didn’t embrace Stuff That’s Awesome. They were content to give you slight improvements on the same old shit, year after year, because there was nothing better out there.
Steve Jobs said, “Fuck that.”
He knew that things could be amazingly better than they were. He willed Apple to produce the iPhone, and boy did they deliver.
The iPhone was a revolution in every sense of the word. The hardware. The software. It was a whole new paradigm for what a cell phone could be.
Ashley got a new Samsung Galaxy SII a few weeks ago and it’s an incredible machine. Great graphics, big screen, cool Android interface. And you know what? It owes everything to the iPhone. If you think that Samsung would have produced something so cool in 2011 if the iPhone had never been invented then you’re kidding yourself.
Mobile technology is the next great frontier for computing and Steve Jobs single-handedly put it 10 to 15 years ahead of where it would have been simply by saying, “Fuck this. We can do better.” The rest of the industry had no choice but to step up their game, and we’ve all benefited as a result.
The iPad is a similar story. The tablet fad came and went in the early 2000s, but it took the iPad to look at the industry and turn it on it’s head. Now everyone is trying to put out a tablet that can compete with the iPad. And all because Steve Jobs looked at the state of things and decided that we could do better.
Technology has become so core to who we are now as a society that the loss of someone like Steve Jobs is a huge blow to all of us. Even if you ignore all of the work that Steve did with Apple, NeXT, and Pixar prior to the iPhone – which would be a huge disservice – and concentrate on the major advances he spurred in mobile technology in just 4 short years, just imagine what innovations he would have inspired had he lived another 30 or 40 years.
It really breaks my heart. It actually angers me. Here is a guy with such vision, such dedication, and such leadership; a guy who spawned a generation of developers, designers, innovators, fans, and friends; a guy who helped create the most important industry of the last 100 years out of his garage, and what does he get in return?
Cancer. Dead at 56. Thanks for playing.
It’s all just so unfair.
You can disagree and say that the iPhone and iPad aren’t the greatest things since sliced bread and haven’t helped lift society to greater heights. I get that there are more important things in the world than gadgets and that Jobs didn’t exactly bring us world peace by producing $500 mobile devices.
But you have to agree that Steve Jobs was a guy who was never happy with the status quo. We need more people like that in our world if we’re every going to get out of the messes we keep creating for ourselves. If all of us tried to stand up to Stuff that Sucks and champion Stuff That’s Awesome in our careers, our communities, our families, and our relationships – even for just a few moments a day – then the world would be a much better place.
RIP, Steve Jobs. May your contributions never be forgotten. May your convictions be an example to us all.