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One good apple

There have been about 849 million words written about Steve Jobs in the past five or six days, so why not add a few more, right?

It’s always sad to see a truly original character exit the scene, and Jobs was certainly that. A man who knew exactly what he wanted and never settled for less. That’s rare. It’s rare because it’s incredibly difficult to pull off. Perfectionists are difficult to work with or for, and there has been no shortage of stories about Jobs’ unrelenting drive and perfectionism.

earlyapple

But he was also a good salesman. In fact, that may have been his true gift and greatest contribution to the modern gadget scene. He wasn’t the nuts and bolts (or should I say soldering iron and resistor) guy after all, that was Wozniak. And when you think it about it, after they scrapped their original operating system and moved to a UNIX-based platform, all Apple was really selling was a different computer interface in a different box, and on the surface that’s a tough sell (ask Microsoft and IBM about O/S2).

You could get into an entire utilitarian-object-as-fetish-object thing when discussing Apple, but that discussion tends to make a lot of people who love Apple cranky. I’ll just say that it’s quite a feat to foster a club-like atmosphere for a consumer product and Jobs and Apple did that better than anyone else.

A great deal of that comes down to personality. If you gave Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer the first generation iPhone and told them to sell it to people, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. Because, let’s be honest, Gates and Ballmer are not cool. Larry Ellison is kind of cool, but I don’t necessarily think people would buy a phone from him either. He’s cool in a I’m-way-cooler-than-you-and-we-both-know-it kind of way, while Jobs had a knack for seeming like the coolest guy who could conceivably be your friend in the real world. You could probably find Ellison on an experimental Gulfstream G750 somewhere over a large ocean, drinking highballs with Hugh Hefner, Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu and Alec Baldwin while Jobs was in the Apple offices pacing up and down the hallways demanding more, better, faster. Rocking the non-ironic turtleneck all the while.

Admittedly, I have never bought an Apple product, so it might not come as a shock that I’m not convinced that things would be much different today if there were never a Steve Jobs. We would still have smartphones, notebook and tablet computers. But things would have almost certainly been a lot more boring. And my hat is off to anyone who makes the world a less boring place.

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