I don’t like Steve Jobs. This does not mean that I know the man, this does not mean that I would not like the man if I knew him on a personal level – maybe he is one of the most like-able guys around. But I don’t like the man. Let me rephrase it – I don’t like Steve Jobs as the CEO of Apple. But’s lets be honest, he does not deserve the medical problems he has.
Apple stock plummeted when Apple announced the temporary leave of absence of the CEO – and the company lost $20 billion or corporate value within the day. That hurts. And in my opinion that means that investors don’t think Apple has the strength to go on on its own if anything would happen to Steve Jobs that would cause him to be out of the running permanently with Apple. It sounds to me that people who (think they) know a lot of investing and corporate businesses simply do not have the trust in Apple to survive if Steve Jobs would be gone.
Now, I don’t like Apple too much, but I do walk around with my iPod which I love and let’s be honest, they make pretty beautiful designs and make the IT world think about usability again. My not liking of Apple is more about the details; the vendor lock-ins, the controlling of what you can and cannot run on their devices and the treatment of their audiences and customers.
But one of the things you have to give a hand to is that Apple at least made IT companies rethink what was happening and should be happening. Microsoft is beaten around about usability since Apple start introducing OSX, Google tries – and is partially successful – to participate in this competition to become the people’s choice on devices too.
But now rises the question, is it Apple or is it Steve Jobs that we are fans of here? Steve Jobs has not been responsible for neither the iPod or the iMac – which in its turn started the revival of the Macintosh computers. Neither was he the man behind OSX. So my question is if he is a real innovator. With my knowledge about the world of IT and about Apple, I would say he is not. But without him – for certain – Apple would not have flourished like it did since the early 2000’s. Keep in mind, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late ’90s, and that was after the introduction of the iMac and OSX, and development of the iPod was already going on strong. When Steve Jobs returned to the helm of the company, things started to look up.
So I think Apple makes a perfect example that innovation does not require creativity alone. OSX – especially when it was introduced, was a whole new way of presenting an OS. Microsoft has not come close to the user experience yet. On the other hand, Apple has not come close to the integrity of Windows yet (yes, sure, there will be a lot of you out there flabbergasted by that remark, but talk to the people who really need to work with reliable systems for corporate platforms… there is a reason why Apple stopped their server OSX production and never got a hold of that market; it is *nix or Windows).
Apple alone has redefined the concept of a handheld device. And they did these innovations both with and without Steve Jobs on the helm. There are some very creative people working in Cupertino who do not get all the credit they should receive. And they do not receive the trust of their investors that they should.
Steve Jobs is a charismatic man, and when you hear him talk in all simplicity you feel comfortable and you want to agree with what he is saying. Standing in his casual clothes, walking around – he is a salesman on a high level and knows the game of how to engage people. And then he has the products to engage people with. Even though the products might have better competition out there; if I have to listen to a sales pitch of Steve Jobs or Steve Ballmer chances are I would be more inclined to buy something from Jobs than from Ballmer… even though I might resent the choice later on.
So, yes, in my opinion Steve Jobs is a huge portion of the success of Apple, although the company behind the man should deserve a lot more credit for the success of the company. But then, you cannot avoid the reality that without someone who knows how to bring it to the market – that company might as well be doomed.