By Greg Mills
We all knew Mr. Jobs is fighting cancer or the aftermath of it. Despite knowing he was on medical leave, it was very reassuring that he popped up at product releases to a thundering applause. Turning over the reins to Apple when there are still unreleased new products in the cue, that need refining, must be the hardest part of his work at Apple for him to relinquish. Steve Jobs is a compulsive perfectionist and he demanded a level of elegance unseen in so many products.
Demanding the impossible and forcing Apple engineers to find a way to do it was his strong suit. Being named as an inventor in numerous patents is only the tip of the iceberg of his creativity. Thinner, faster, smoother, more intuitive, fewer steps to operate, simpler, logical, cheaper to manufacture and fitting into an overall plan were the things Steve looks at in new product development.
The logic of Apple software icons and button placement alone is a science that is still not understood by the bulk of product designers. I have a microwave oven made by Sharp that has a giant icon button for popping popcorn, but the start and stop buttons are unremarkable and buried in a number of text only buttons making it hard to find the most used buttons in poor light or without reading glasses.
A lot of dumb mistakes made in product development cost nothing to do right, if anyone with the power to force a correction even notices the flaw. At one point I stuck a green dot over the start button and a red spot over the stop button and the microwave seemed a lot more compliant with the standards of icon use I expect from my Apple computer products. That microwave design would never have gotten by a Steve Jobs final inspection without that obvious defect in user interface being fixed.
The colored stickers eventually wore off, and we are back to the Microsoft sort of learning curve due to stupidity in design. We have owned that microwave for several years now, and it still ticks me off when I can’t find the right button quickly.
Apple has actually developed a school for employees that teaches the Jobsian way of thinking. While his sarcastic and demeaning manner put off people who had more pride in themselves than was warranted, the market place repeatedly validated his opinions. While employees wetting their pants just accidentally taking the same elevator as Mr. Jobs seems a bit over the top, Steve is a powerful presence for good as well as bad.
The contribution to society Steve has made will live well beyond his mortal life. This is not an obituary, the man still lives and his brain is still the super computer of creativity it has always been. The plans for succession at Apple certainly will provide for a continuation of the vision Steve Jobs has had for Apple, the most valuable company in the world. What a fitting tribute to Steve Jobs that just days before he passed the reigns on to Tim Cook, Apple surpassed Mobile/Exxon in market cap valuation.
I expect some volatility in Apple share prices for the short term, but the iPhone 5, iPad 3 and the next big thing are certainly just around the corner. That it might take more than one person to fill in behind Steve Jobs isn’t a problem. Tim Cook has proven to be able to lead the company from a business standpoint, and Jonathan Ives is an artist in the design area,
I expect the executives at Apple to recognize the talent of staff in the form of recognizing and promoting the people that think like Steve Jobs. I am still bullish on Apple and hope and pray that Steve Jobs is with us for a good while longer.
That is Greg’s Bite for today