Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Goodbye to Steve Jobs

I am not an Apple fan. I don't own a single piece of Apple hardware, have never even really seriously considered buying one, and often find some of Apple's business practices as distasteful as those of Microsoft.

No, I wasn't an Apple fan. But I was a Steve Jobs fan.

When the historians look back on our time in history, they will signal out a few people as relevant, game changers, revolutionaries, and visionaries. Steve Jobs will be one of those people. Arguably, Jobs was one of the most forward thinking and visionary CEO's in all of tech. He could make or break a new product by uttering one word:

"Sexy"

If Jobs said your product was sexy, you knew you had a hit on your hands. You knew hoards of Apple fans would soon be lining up at your doorstep to buy from you and you knew that you had a really good product because Steve Jobs didn't utter that word unless he really believed it. He was a harsh critic but he was usually right.

I remember last year when Apple bought a music service I really liked then closed it, I emailed Steve to express my disgust. To my surprise, he emailed back. We exchanged about 10 emails before he finally said 'sorry then, don't use iTunes'.  I was pissed off but I felt good at the same time. Out of all of the people I didn't expect to respond to a customer complaint, Steve Jobs was at the top of my list. But he cared about Apple and its customers. He didn't want to see customers unhappy but he also had an acute sense of business reality and he wasn't afraid to express that.

Steve led Apple through some very tough years, saved their ass on occasion, and pushed things to incredible popularity in a way that no other corporate leader could ever have done. Even poorly designed products from Apple had a huge cult following because, largely, the Cult of Apple was really the Cult of Steve Jobs.

Today, Steve died after a brave and long battle with pancreatic cancer. It wasn't totally unexpected but it still was shocking. Though I am not a friend, family, or even associated with him as a customer, I feel as though the world - not just the tech world, has lost someone we can never replace. My heart wells up as I think of where we'd be without Steve's brash, brazen, leadership and how far we've come because of it. He will be missed. But his influence will be felt for many years to come: through the company he built to the lives he's influenced, and through the dreams he's nourished.

Steve Jobs, my hat goes off to you sir. Tonight, the only words I can think to say to you are 'thank you'. You have shown us all what 'sexy' really meant.

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