It will be a day on which the residents of Silicon Valley take time out from their busy schedules, lift their craned necks from their screens of code and pause in remembrance of perhaps the greatest pioneer to ever influence the way we do the little things.
When we listen to music, we listen to MP3s, often on our iPods. When we search the web, we very well might be using our iMacs or our MacBooks. We read magazines on our iPads. When we make a call, we might very well be tapping the little green phone icon on our iPhones. To illustrate this point, I’m writing this article in Word for Mac.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Apple is not the only technology company that has had a huge impact on the way we live our day-to-day lives. To ignore Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, etc. would be foolish.
That being said, it is almost universally acknowledged that there’s something different about Apple and its products. And it is widely acknowledged that that is due to the late Steve Jobs, founder of both Apple and Pixar, famous for his ‘casual uniform’ of black turtleneck, Levi 501s and Nike trainers.
What he lacked in his own fashion is more than made up for in the attention to detail – near perfection – of Apple products. And it’s this attention to detail, this effort, and this philosophy that the world is now missing.
Just like the Apple logo has a bite out of it, the world is now missing a sizeable piece of its creative heart. To pre-emptively defend myself against accusations of being a slave to a brand, I need quote only the brilliant President Obama: “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it”. It’s stirring stuff.
Whilst the more feeble-minded Internet users have already begun churning out poor jokes at his expense, my thoughts have been pre-occupied with Steve Jobs since the moment I found out about his death.
Obviously, I have never met the man and have nothing to say about the claims that he was, at times, a ruthless businessman and not always easy to get along with (what great mind is?), but I definitely count myself among those inspired by what he did: a man who had the confidence to think that he could ‘change the world’ and actually pulled it off.
Steve Jobs gave himself a salary of $1 a year: financial gain was never his aim. He said: “remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose”.
There are dozens more quotes like this, all proof that Jobs was not only an innovator, but a philosopher. “The world has lost a visionary”, as Obama said. How was he a visionary? Because unlike many businesses (Microsoft is a prime example), Steve Jobs didn’t want his company to make products that just did what they were supposed to.
He wanted his company to make products that worked well – but not just well, exceptionally well. Not only should they work intuitively, he believed, they should look aesthetically pleasing, both inside and out. To this day, I have never heard someone criticise the look of a MacBook Pro: it may well be the best-looking piece of technology ever created. This is to say nothing of the way the iPod and the iPhone revolutionised the way we listen to music and contact one another. Everyone knows that Apple are meticulous in their design and their work ethic.
But the other thing that I think sums up the brand is their minimalism. If you visit the Apple website, you will be greeted by a site that has swathes of white behind the familiar black font. Every single page on that website – just like all of their products – is scrupulously checked and double-checked to make sure they fit in with the philosophy of Apple.
You just don’t find that sort of effort anywhere else in the world on a large scale. Whilst we may have lost the man who brought us the most iconic creations of the twenty-first century, and whilst Apple may face a somewhat uncertain future, Steve Jobs left us one last gift: the knowledge that “the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do”.
1955 – 2011