Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

“The file system management is just gonna be an app for pros and consumers aren’t gonna need to use it”

Ole Begemann has a great find about Steve Jobs thoughts on file systems:

in every user interface study we’ve ever done […], [we found] it’s pretty easy to learn how to use these things ‘til you hit the file system and then the learning curve goes vertical. So you ask yourself, why is the file system the face of the OS? Wouldn’t it be better if there was a better way to find stuff?

Now, e-mail, there’s always been a better way to find stuff. You don’t keep your e-mail on your file system, right? The app manages it. And that was the breakthrough, as an example, in iTunes. You don’t keep your music in the file system, that would be crazy. You keep it in this app that knows about music and knows how to find things in lots of different ways. Same with photos: we’ve got an app that knows all about photos. And these apps manage their own file storage. […]

And eventually, the file system management is just gonna be an app for pros and consumers aren’t gonna need to use it.

What Steve is describing is how iOS works, and how people will be able to use OS X Mountain Lion. For power users, the file system is great, but for your average computer users, it just makes everything more complicated. You would be surprised with how many people don’t really know how to manage a file system.

And if you don’t know how to use and manage a file system, you’re not getting the most out of your computer, you’re misplacing files and you are probably unhappy frequently with your computer. Or you become one of those people who stores everything on the desktop, because, hey, that’s at least one spot that you know how to reach. Of course, your desktop then becomes so cluttered that it’s useless for storing files.

There are limitations to the iOS model (how do multiple apps access and work with the same file?), but it is a system that works very well for novice users. An iPad is much easier to pick up and use than a Mac or PC, and a large part of that is how much easier it is to manage files.

Facebook releases top 40 most shared articles in 2011, list dominated by 4 news orgs

Facebook’s list of top 40 most shared articles in 2011 contains stories from only six news organizations.

A few things that stand out to me:

  • Hard news is not very popular. Opinion pieces are. The one major exception was the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
  • Yahoo! is struggling but Yahoo! News is a major destination for news and its stories — largely not hard hitting stories — are popular on social media sites.
  • The top five most shared stories — except the top one about the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan — are all largely fluff pieces.  Gems such as “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps.” CNN in particular is really good at these link-bait stories.
  • The Wall Street Journal has only one story in the top 40. This is no doubt largely due to the paywall that the Journal has set up. The NYT’s 20 story meter on the other hand clearly encourages more sharing. Any pay wall that doesn’t even allow people to taste your journalism is probably doomed in this social era. How will people even discover if they want to pay for the Journal? The NYT at least encourages people to try before they buy and its meter is built to work well with social media.
  • The Washington Post is low on the list. Will the new social reader app change this? I’d really like to see next year’s data.
  • Steve Jobs, his life and his death were popular on social media sites.

The real Apple TV (a computer for a TV).

For the longest time I’ve believed that a real Apple TV — a standalone TV product — would not happen.

People don’t buy TVs like they buy computers. They rarely upgrade and usually do when their current TV starts to go. And what could Apple really bring to TVs beyond a better industrial design and much nicer user interface?

But the rumblings have grown louder. And when Steve Jobs said before his death that he finally cracked the TV market, I knew that this might actually happen. And for Steve Jobs to say he “cracked it,” means he has something big up his sleeve.

For this TV to be a success, it would have to transform TV. It couldn’t just be the best TV available; it has to reinvent TV. The Apple TV/iTV would have to be like the iPhone was to the mobile phone market.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are ways that Apple could crack this. Apple would have to make the TV into a computer in the mold of the iPad — friendly, enjoyable and approachable. It would have to be something that people think of as more than just a dumb box that pipes in TV programming.

This new TV would be the true center of a family’s digital life. It would not only do TV, movies and sports well, but it would also do photos, music, games and, yes, apps, well. It would link up to your smartphones, tablets and laptops. It would be like making your TV into a computer, in a good way.

This new TV will be similer to Apple TV set top box. In a perfect world, perhaps the current Apple TV would be Apple’s dream, but the problem is that most people already get a free set top box from their cable company. People haven’t been keen to add another one.

It’s increasingly looking like the only way to usher in a new era of TV that is more user friendly and much more connected to people’s digital lives is to create a dedicated TV. I don’t expect the Apple TV set top box to go away, and, in fact, I could see it becoming much more popular after a dedicated Apple TV is released.

But this new TV will be much more than just a TV with an Apple TV built in. Rest assured of that. The Apple TV makes a standard TV better, but that’s still a standard TV with a bad user interface and hard-to-find programming.

Below are my thoughts on what the dedicated Apple TV/iTV will be like. This is based off of what I’ve read, my years of following Apple and my own intuition about digital video.

One plug design

First, we can all agree that this would be a very good looking TV. It would most likely have an all glass front that spanned the entire face like the iMac, iPad and Apple’s 27-inch display. It would probably have an aluminum back. And it wouldn’t require a rats nest of wires to make it useful.

Out of the box the Apple TV/iTV will only need one plug — the power cable. It will have built in wifi and be connected to a myriad of Internet services that will allow users to download and stream movies, TV shows and sports content. No external boxes needed.

The central hub for this TV will of course be iCloud. In iCloud all of your TV shows, movies (this will eventually happen), photos, music and other multimedia content will reside. This will be the center of your Apple TV/iTV experience. The best part is that all of this content will also work on all of your other devices, making it seamless to consume this content at home and on the go.

It will also have a built-in and hidden antenna for viewing over-the-air broadcasts. It might support cable card (not sure on this though). Most likely, Apple will try to reimagine TV from something that you watch at a specific time to something much more ethereal. You watch TV when you want to. No DVR to mess with.

A DVR is a hack. The new Apple TV is a reimagining of TV.

You buy, rent and stream movies straight to your TV, no external boxes or discs needed.

Oh, it will play games too. Video games, with no big, loud, expensive console required.

Yes, you’ll be able use other boxes to with this TV, but it will require only one plug out of the box. And for most people that will be all they need.

This will be the TV of choice for chord cutters. View TV and movies on your schedule, with an incredibly easy to use user interface.

I also believe that this TV will have surprisingly good audio, just like the iMac and Apple 27-inch display have. Perhaps taken to another level. TVs have really bad audio, especially considering that this tepid audio is being paired with large and beautiful HD displays. Home theaters are expensive, hard to set up and not exactly attractive. Most people could benefit from having better built in speakers.

At the very least, expect this TV to have a 2.1 sound setup that has rich sound and good bass. It’s entirely possible, however, that this TV will have surround bar technology built in that will provide a surround sound experience.

Will this replace a good dedicated home theater set up? No. Will this audio be much better than most people are used to? Yes. Will this audio be completely hidden? Yes.

The design will be a big part of the allure of this TV. You’ll be able to do so much with just one cord. This TV will be strikingly beautiful.

It’ll just work

Plug the TV in and sign into your iTunes/iCloud account. That’s it.

You’ll also be able to sign into other digital accounts such as Netflix, Hulu+, MLB, NBA, etc. There will also be YouTube, Flickr and other online services.

No sources to manage. No wires everywhere. No maddening and slow UIs that make no sense. This will have a UI that anyone can grasp and use. It will be fast, unlike many cable and DVR boxes.

But the biggest switch will be that the concept of time will be gone. The cloud doesn’t care about time. Why should you care about time?

If you want to watch the Wonder Years, just ask your Apple TV how you can do so. No wondering when an episode might be on.

Sports? The current Apple TV already supports the streaming options from the NBA, NHL and MLB. I expect the NFL to be added by next fall. Instead of worry if a game that you want to watch on TV is on, you’ll just be able to watch it.

Gone will be the days of wondering if what you want to see if actually available. But won’t this be expensive? Instead of spending $50-150 a month on cable, you can put that money towards just viewing the content that you want.

Maybe the only sport that you care about is baseball. The MLB package is $100. That’s a month or two of cable. Now, however, you don’t have to worry about whether or not a game is on — you get them all, not just local games. (Except for those stupid blacked-out games, but that concept will eventually go away as digital distribution takes hold).

Maybe there are a few shows you really, really like. It will be cheaper to buy every episode of the shows you really like than to get cable. Or you can stream the shows from Netflix or Hulu+. But this sounds confusing, right?

View content by what’s available

The Apple TV/iTV will solve the balkanization of video content problem. Right now, you can view video content over the air, on cable, on Netflix streaming, on iTunes, on Hulu+, on set top boxes, etc. It can be really time consuming to search all of those services to see if what you want to see is available. But what if you didn’t have to search all of them?

The Apple TV/iTV will throw all of the content that is available to you in one searchable stream. You can search for what’s available to watch right now — over the air, cable, iCloud, Netflix, NBA/MLB/NFL/NHL streaming packages, etc. The TV will have apps for all of them, but it will also allow users to throw all of this together and view it as one giant content feed.

Why should you have to search iTunes, your iCloud account, Netflix and Hulu+ for a movie you want to see? The Apple TV will allow users to just search for a movie or TV show and the TV will intelligently show you it from across those services. Already own it in your iCloud account? Then we’ll show you that. Don’t own it, but it’s available on Netflix or Hulu+? We’ll show you that. Don’t own it and not available on those but available on iTunes to stream or buy? That’s your option.

It just works. Why should users have to even care where a TV show, movie or sports game is located? They just want to see it, and they’ll be able to, because this TV will just work.

User interface and remote

The user interface will be nothing like a standard TV or cable set top box. The UI will be similar to what is currently offered by the Apple TV set top box. In addition, I believe there will be a way to intelligently search through all of the content available to you. That will be the killer UI paradigm.

The remote will be simple, of course. Perhaps as simple as the current Apple TV remote. Or perhaps it will be a touch screen, similar to an iPod Touch.

With the Apple TV set top box, Apple has to have a cheap remote. Apple also knows you already have another remote that can change the volume, channel and input sources. A touch screen remote could greatly simplify navigating a TV.

By going touch screen, the remote can be exactly what it needs to be in a given situation and nothing else. A remote with buttons has to be all things at all times. That’s why they’re so confusing.

It’s certainly possible that this TV will come with a basic remote ala the current Apple TV and then allow for users to use their iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads as more full-featured remotes. How many people would buy this TV and not own either an iPhone or iPod Touch?

Or maybe Apple just throws in the cheapest iPod Touch with every TV. Why not? The Remote App for the iPod Touch is great, and Apple can easily make it even better. It’s especially great when you can enter text using the onscreen keyboard.

Rest assured, the UI and remote will be nothing like a standard TV. Apple will not be releasing a Sony TV: a really nice TV that looks like a nicer version of a competitor’s TV. Apple will release a TV nothing like what is out there.

Facetime

This will be one of the monster killer features of this TV. Apple will have more than 100 million Facetime devices out by the time this launches. Those devices will be able to do Facetime video chats with the Apple TV. Facetime on a computer is fine, especially for one-on-one uses, but it really breaks down for using it with multiple people. When I chat with my brother, his wife and two young children, it’s hard to really do this when their sitting around a computer Web cam.

Imagine be able to sit on your couch and do video chatting. The whole family could be sitting with you and you’d be able to get a lot more in the frame.

Because this will be built into a TV, the camera should be quite good, allowing for 1080p video conferencing. TVs are thicker than phones, tablets and computers. This will allow for high-quality lenses. The Macbook Air, due to being so thin, can’t do HD video chatting. But the Apple TV will be able to do great video chatting.

Bringing Facetime into the living room will take video conferencing to the next level. Facetime has tried to be video conferencing for the rest of us, but this will really cement that idea.

Airplay and mirroring

Perhaps two of the best reasons to get the current Apple TV set top box are AirPlay and mirroring. With AirPlay, you can send video, audio and photos from your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to your TV. You can go pumpkin picking with friends, take photos with your iPhone and then all view them on your TV when you get back by sending the photos from your iPhone to your Apple TV. Or you can rent a movie on your iPad, watch part of it on the train and then come home and finish it on your big-screen TV. It’s pretty nice.

Mirroring takes it to the next level. With mirroring, the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S can mirror what is being displayed on that device to a TV. This means that people can see what you’re seeing on your iPad. This is great for presentations, showing people how to use an iPad, surfing the Web and more.

The Apple TV/iTV will have this built in. No separate box needed. It will just work out of the box.

Having this just work out of the box will really make these features more accessible. People are creating a lot of content on their phones, but phones aren’t a great way to display content. The Apple TV/iTV will solve that issue.

Games

The iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad have been surprising video game hits. Now Apple is pushing the iPod Touch as a portable gaming device (the most popular in the world). The Apple TV will most likely run on iOS and run on the same hardware as the iPad. The iPad 2 can do HD video and play some pretty good looking games.

The Apple TV will have at least iPad 3 hardware, if not better. It will be able to do graphics in the same class as the PS3 and Xbox 360. People will be able to use iPhones and iPod Touches as controllers.

I don’t expect this to hurt so-called hardcore games — first-person shooters and role playing games — I do expect it to be great for the casual games market. I know many people who would never think about buying a PS3 or Xbox 360 that own a Wii.

You’ll get great looking games right out of the box. Even if you don’t buy this TV for games, you might just pick up a few to play. Imagine playing quiz games where you have four different iPhones to enter in answers? Or party games? Or digital board games?

For these kinds of party games, this Apple TV will really excel. The ability to have four touch screen controllers for a video game will allow forms of video games that current dedicated consoles can’t do. How cool is that?

Will Apple develop controllers beyond iPhones and iPod touches that people can buy? Not sure about that. But this TV will at least have the power that Apple could release controllers that could be used for hardcore gaming.

Apps

I would bet anything that this TV would run on iOS. Just like it could run video games, it could also run other apps developed for the Apple TV. At the minimum, the Apple TV/iTV will allow users to display what they’re doing on their iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches to this TV. I expect more, however.

Games are a certainty, as I’ve mentioned before. I believe this will not be as open as the App Store for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Rather, certainly classes of apps will be allowed. Games, audio applications, digital books with illustrations (The Night Before Christmas on a 50-inch TV, anyone?) and maybe some other apps.

Maybe Apple’s app and game model will be based on around Airplay and mirroring and that the actual apps and games will reside on other iOS devices. That’s possible, but it won’t matter much. Either way, this Apple TV will be able to use apps and games on a big, beautiful TV.

If you love the status quo, this isn’t for you

I believe this TV will accept HDMI inputs, and you’ll be able to hook up a cable box or video game console to it. But if you really like your current set up, this isn’t for you. This isn’t for people just looking for a more attractive TV.

This TV will be for people who don’t like the status quo, just like the iPhone was for people who didn’t like Blackberries and Windows Mobile phones with tiny screens and big keyboards. This TV will be for all the people upset that TVs are so hard to use and are such bad citizens of the Internet. This TV will be for people who don’t care about time and just want things to movie and TV shows.

This TV will be for people who value simplicity. This TV will be for people who have the Internet at the center of their media lives.

This TV will be for people who prefer Netflix streaming over getting physical discs in the mail.

For many people this TV will be harder to use. If you’re really used to the old paradigms for viewing TV, this might be a radicaly shift that won’t work for you. If you’re someone who has watched TV shows online and streamed movies, this new way of using your TV will be a breath of fresh air.

Conclusion

I think the Apple TV/iTV is real. I believe that Apple has working prototypes. Will Apple actually release a production product?

I’d put that at about a 75 percent chance that they do. Just because Apple has a pretty good prototype doesn’t mean this will be successful. And just because Apple thinks what they have is good, doesn’t mean they’ll release it. Insanely great is the bar they want to hit.

The iPhone wasn’t just good when it was released — it ushered in a new mobile computing era. Either this product really reinvents the wheel or Apple won’t release it. The Apple TV Take 2.0 is doing much better than the older Apple TV. Apple could just decide to keep making better Apple TV set top boxes with better iCloud and iTunes offerings.

Apple needs to get movies into iCloud. Imagine being able to buy and store movies in the cloud and be able to watch them on a variety of devices whenever you want? Apple needs that first. Apple also needs the NFL (the PS3 already has this, so it should happen) and some other content licenses first (ESPN, anyone?).

I would expect the earliest you would see this product is mid-2012. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was still a few years away. This product hinges completely on access to high quality digital content. Not enough is available right now. This product would fail today.

Once NFL Sunday Ticket comes to current Apple TV and movie studios allow movies to be bought and stored in iCloud, then you can really start looking forward to a real Apple TV. Those are the two main stumbling blocks right now.

What I have laid out here would be a revolutionary product, and if anyone could do it, it’s Apple. I hope they do it. The current state of TV is atrocious.

This TV would be a great product for people who enjoy getting content digitally and who don’t enjoy dealing with cable and all the assorted boxes making their living rooms ugly. I don’t have cable. I don’t like paying for a product that gives me a bunch of stuff that I don’t want and not nearly enough of what I want.

What I’ve laid out here is all feasible and is what we deserve. Will our lack of competition and net neutrality derail this dream? Let’s hope not.

We deserve TV like this.

Steve Jobs and never giving up hope (and rocking it until your last days)

Two things are clear to me with Steve Jobs and his death: He never gave up hope, and knowing that he was dying lit a fire beneath him that fueled incredible creativity.

Even if Steve knew the end was near, his actions showed that he never gave up hope. He presented plans for a new Apple campus just a few months ago. He moved forward with plans for a new home as well.

This is why I was surprised to hear of the news of Steve’s death. I figured if he was really sick, he still wouldn’t be spending his time presenting building plans to the Cupertino City Council. Surely, someone else at Apple could do that.

Steve was still occasionally going into work as well. He even did the Keynote at this year’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, just four months before his death.

I thought that he had merely come to terms with the fact that he would never have the energy to be a CEO again. Being a CEO is beyond a full-time job. It’s long hours and lots of stress, especially if you want to be a wildly successful CEO like Steve.

A lot of people spend years and even decades in poor health. In reality, Steve didn’t know how to half-ass life. He didn’t know how to slow down and not work towards his life goals.

He presented his plans for a new campus for Apple to the city council because he cared so much about that new, one-of-a-kind campus and building, and he wanted to make sure his vision came to reality. The new Apple campus won’t be completed until 2015 at the earliest, and Steve knew at the time that he would probably never get to see it. But he wanted to make sure it was done right. Steve built things that will last long after he is gone, and he wanted to make sure that they those products, buildings, ideas, ideals, etc. were good long after he was gone.

I have to believe part of his working until the end was that he never gave up hope. Even if there was a 95 percent certainly that this was his last year, you never know. And so while many people would wallow at being taken from this Earth too early, in knowing that their final days were probably not far away, Steve kept up hope and kept working at building products and ideas that he believed in.

I can’t imagine Steve sitting in an in a recliner watching TV as his health slipped away. That wasn’t who he was. He was a fighter until the end.

Indeed, it appears that knowing that his time was limited lit a fire beneath him. The iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iCloud, iOS, Macbook Air and the resurgance of Mac OS and Mac hardware happened after his cancer diagnosis. He ran Apple like a man who knew that if he made a big mistake, it might be the last thing people remembered him for.

We all know that we’re going to die. But we don’t understand it. That’s what keeps us pushing things into the future. That’s what keeps us in jobs that we don’t like. That’s what keeps us from living the life we really want.

Steve Jobs, his actions and his incredible Stanford graduation speech have taught me so much about how to live life. How to love life. And that today, not 10 years from now, is when you should love life.

Go watch Steve’s Stanford graduation speech. Live life. Love life.

Run wildly through life. Make a dent in the universe.

Episode 16: Honor Steve Jobs by learning something new, something outside your comfort zone

We dedicate this week’s episode to Steve Jobs, but rather than send up his life’s work, which we already did after he retired, we decided to salute Steve Jobs’s legacy of thinking different and of learning new skills.

This episode looks at education and how school almost beat the creativity out of him. This episode also encourages students to look outside their majors, to take random classes and to experiment.

The original Macintosh and personal computers owe their great typography to Steve Jobs randomly taking a calligraphy class (or rather dropping into it). Steve was a life-long student. While Steve Jobs may be best known for founding a great tech company, his appreciation for design and the liberal arts really helped move the industry forward and helped make computers more personal.

More journalists should learn about technology and computer science. More engineers should learn more about the arts and writing. We could all stand to know more than just our majors and careers.

What made Steve Job great was not that he was the world’s best designer or engineer, but rather that he could get people to put it all together. He understood at least a little bit of everything that Apple did. That allowed him to get designers, hardware engineers and software developers to work together to create products that were a cut above competitors.

Perhaps the best way to honor Steve Jobs is to learn something new. Go ahead, go outside your comfort zone. Think different.

Listen to this week’s episode:

 

Download the MP3

Show notes:

The future of journalism is linked to technology. Tell newspaper columnists this.

The future of journalism is inextricably linked with technology. There is no way around that. And journalists who don’t get that are actively holding journalism back.

Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson wrote a piece about Steve Jobs and technology that was so off base and so out of touch, one would almost have too assume that it’s satire. Maybe he is auditioning for The Onion:

Before reading this, you should know the following: I do not own an iPad, an iPhone, an iPod or a Mac. I abandoned my typewriter only recently. In short, I have not enlisted in the digital revolution and have kept my involvement to a desktop computer, e-mail and the Internet…

By history’s measure, Jobs’s achievements are tiny. Transforming the music industry is not the same as transforming society. There are many technological advances that had a far larger impact on society: antibiotics, air travel, air conditioning and television. By contrast, many of Apple’s products are gadgets, as commentators have noted. Their ultimate social impact may be less than Facebook’s.

The work that Steve Jobs did on personal computers, smartphones, tablets and general usability for technology far outweighs some of the “big” examples that Samuelson exposes. The television? Honestly, that’s nothing compared to computers.

Many tech savvy people of my generation are forgoing traditional televisions because Internet-connected devices are so much deeper and more powerful than a TV. Standalone TV is a blimp in history that will be replaced by Internet video (all video will eventually go over IP, and this transition is already underway).

Steve Jobs and his works are big because they brought computing to the masses. The Internet and personal computing — PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc. — are some of the biggest advances in human history.

Steve Jobs worked to take technology and make it usable for non-technologists. He helped democratize technology. That is huge.

For a journalist to not understand technology, when technology is disrupting journalism so greatly and allowing for journalism to do things that it could never do before, is somewhat mind blowing. Samuelson is not some Podunk journalist. He works for one of the best news organizations in America.

I expect more.

We become journalists because we’re addicted to learning and reading. We simply have to know more about our world around us. Samuelson, a good political reporter, would be a better journalist if he was more curious about technology.

Hat tip to Daring Fireball.

The marriage of technology and the liberal arts

I don’t want to live in an ugly world. And neither did Steve Jobs.

Design matters.

Design isn’t just how a product looks — it’s how it works and feels. Steve Jobs and Apple made beautiful products, and I hope Steve’s commitment to a beautiful world lives on for many years to come. Beauty is more than just skin deep, especially when it comes to technology.

Steve made products that you were proud to display in your house. Products that you enjoyed using because design was an integral part of the product itself, not just a shell over some technology. Steve insisted on creating products that were design focused, because how you use and interact with a product is just as important than the technology itself.

Many think design is just veneer. That design is just style. That it’s not substance.

Good design is the core of substance. Good design makes something easy to use. Good design makes something fun to use.

I strongly prefer using products that are easy and fun to use. Without Steve Jobs, I think we would have many of the same technologies that we have today: personal computers with graphical user interfaces, smartphones with robust Web browsers, portable MP3 players, etc. But without Steve Jobs, I’m afraid we would live in a world with just technology and no design, culture or soul. This technology would be harder and less enjoyable to use, and I fear it would of the province of technologists alone.

Too many technologists and engineers don’t value design, usability and the liberal arts. Steve Jobs cherished them. As a technologist with a liberal arts background, Steve Jobs and Apple always spoke to me because they were more than just a computer company that only cared about computer components.

Apple under Steve designed computers and music players and software and phones and more that were a pleasure to use. For years I had to use Windows machines at work. They typically got the job done like Ford Crown Victoria does for a cab driver, but I rarely enjoyed using the actual machine. It always felt like using a machine.

I would go home at night, relax and work on personal projects on my Macs. I enjoyed the experience of just using a Mac. When I was away from my Mac and my beloved OS X (I used it full time from 10.1 onward), I would get antsy to get back to my computer. It was more than just a machine, it was my sidekick.

The difference between what Apple produces and what many other technology companies produce is that they make products that allow people to do something while also enjoying what they were doing. Steve and Apple make technology centered products that speak to non-technologists. To produce a truly great computer or phone or piece of technology, everything matters: the hardware, the software, the physical design, the user interface design.

Steve understood that better than anyone else, and I think it’s precisely because he didn’t see himself as a technologist alone. Steve cherished the arts. The world would be a better place if more people did.

Steve Jobs’s legacy is the marriage of technology and liberal arts.

Thank you Steve. You helped us live in a more beautiful world.

Style is substance

Stephen Fry explains how those who think Steve Jobs was just style over substance don’t get it:

As always there are those who reveal their asininity (as they did throughout his career) with ascriptions like “salesman”, “showman” or the giveaway blunder “triumph of style over substance”.  The use of that last phrase, “style over substance” has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a marvellous and instant indicator of a fool. For those who perceive a separation between the two have either not lived, thought, read or experienced the world with any degree of insight, imagination or connective intelligence. It may have been Leclerc Buffon who first said “le style c’est l’homme – the style is the man” but it is an observation that anyone with sense had understood centuries before, Only dullards crippled into cretinism by a fear of being thought pretentious could be so dumb as to believe that there is a distinction between design and use, between form and function, between style and substance. If the unprecedented and phenomenal success of Steve Jobs at Apple proves anything it is that those commentators and tech-bloggers and “experts” who sneered at him for producing sleek, shiny, well-designed products or who denigrated the man because he was not an inventor or originator of technology himself missed the point in such a fantastically stupid way that any employer would surely question the purpose of having such people on their payroll, writing for their magazines or indeed making any decisions on which lives, destinies or fortunes depended.

On Steve Jobs pursuing greatness

This nugget from an Esquire piece on Steve Jobs stood out to me:

For another, he pursues his unitary vision through binary means, like all great despots. He says yes. He says no. He has established a personal dichotomy by which a thing is either great or it’s shit, and he holds to it. He starts there. Jobs’s “first go-round at Apple, the company used to pride itself on being the first,” says another former employee. “Like Newton. Remember Newton? It was the first PDA. It might not have worked, but it was the first. That’s not what they do now. Now they start with what makes an existing experience crappy. And that’s where Jobs is a genius. That’s where his ruthlessness comes in. He’s ruthless with himself, ruthless with other people — he’s also ruthless with technology. He knows exactly what makes it work, and what makes it suck. There were MP3 players before the iPod, but they sucked. So he’s like, Okay, what do we have to do so that they don’t suck? Same with the iPhone. A lot of phones had Web browsers before the iPhone, but nobody used them. Why? Because they sucked. Now even people without iPhones are using the Web browsers on their cell phones. But that’s because of the iPhone. And that’s what he does. He makes the experience of technology better.”

The heart of what made Apple so great under Jobs 2.0 is that it focused on making really great products and not being the first at something to say they were the first. The iPhone was not the first smartphone — although many would say that pre-iPhone smartphones weren’t very smart — but it changed the game completely.