Thursday, October 6, 2011

My thought on Apple and Steve Jobs

Every time with the passing of a global icon, there expect numerous tributes to commemorate the life and success of that individual. The last time was Michael Jackson, and now it is Steve Jobs. It is a bit unfair to MJ by comparison, but Steve Jobs certainly has a much broaden scope of impact to the world. He basically died when his legacy and achievement are both at the peak. I’m not gonna go into the details of his life in details as the media is gonna covered them in depth in days to come. What I’m trying to blog here is about something more personal about my view of Steve Jobs and my history with Apple products so far. Well, it’s not extraordinary, just a recollection, that’s all.

My first contact with Apple’s product is Apple II when I was a kid. An older neighbor who lived upstairs of mine had an Apple II. I didn’t know what a computer was till that time. I saw a monitor that looked like a TV and a flat box with keystrokes that looked like a typewriter. I saw the word ‘Apple’ on it and saw some primitive game being displayed on the screen. That’s all I remembered. Then, the second time, actually the first time I used an Apple product were the Macs in the computer lab in my freshman year in college. All of us were using MS-DOS, WordPerfect and Lotus 123 for school works. But, there were Macs in the lab with something called a ‘mouse’ for navigation that looked so petite and unique, I didn’t use them extensively, but remembered using the Mac to make cover page of my term paper. That’s when I first realized the beauty of having different fonts for selection. However, as MS ruled the world and Apple’s products were very expensive back then, I didn’t come in contact with any Apple products for few years until about a year after iMac was released. At first, my first acquaintance of an all-in-one desktop was just impressive. Now, it might sound dumb, but nobody actually had seen any PC that is colorful. The semi-transparent dark green back, the curves of the iMac itself and the mouse just made PC, a dull boring product, looks pretty. I didn’t own an iMac, but just came to play with it briefly in a friend’s home. Since then, I started to pay attention to Apple’s products through the press, particularly Steve Jobs’ keynotes. I still remember the hula-hoop that he used to show the wireless iBook laptop….

The first Apple product that I owned was the iPod Video, believes to be the version 5 of iPod. Being a music lover, I had 2 other MP3 players before (an Aiwa and an iRiver), both of them were merely ok but not great. The huge size of hard disk of the iPod Classic was big (30GB) compared with the others, just time-saving in managing my music library back then was certainly enough to convince me taking this gadget every time I’m out. I really enjoyed clicking the wheel and looking at the pictures of albums with easy selection. Since then, Apple’s product has been with me everyday and become a part of my daily life.

Not to mention, at the start of becoming a user of iTunes, moving from Window Media Player, I couldn’t tell how much better iTunes is over WMP or others like the RealPlayer. However, since I loved my iPod, I had to buy into the developing Apple ecosystem. I actually didn’t enjoy it that much until much later on when podcasts and apps were available.

Meanwhile, being an Apple product user myself, I just getting more and more interest in the product news about this company. Then, with the announcement of iPhone in 2007, I immediately knew that it would be the next phone that I would buy. Before that announcement, I was trying to figure out what phone would fit my needs in the sea of phones with various functionalities, i.e. those Nokias! The closest one that I thought I would get was a Smartphone from Dodpod (I guess that company was folded and sold to HTC or something), but that phone was wicked expensive and as large as a ‘soap’. I didn’t wanna carry a soap in my pocket all the time. But, the iPhone just solved my problem. It wasn’t about the App store at that time, cuz it wasn’t available right at the start, but the slim size, the multiple functionalities, the simplicity of home button and the multi-touch! Just amazing! Well, I think I’m a relatively ‘rational’ Apple fan. In spite of my admiration of the iPhone, I didn’t get the it until 3GS was available, when my Samsung phone was indeed broken and 3G on iPhone became faster enough to meet my expectation. In fact, I got my wife an iPhone 3G for almost a year and let her to use it while I was an active ‘part-time’ user. Just to got a feel of the product before I got one myself. Finally, I was able to say goodbye to the days when I had to carry a phone and an iPod. Since then, I can tell you that I’ve been a happy person because of what has come along with the iPhone. The Apps helps me to organize and entertains me. Especially with the expansion of my family and the duties that come with it, I became more and more relied on my iPhone on both work and entertainment, as it is the only gadget that is convenient for me to use on the go.

Besides being a music lover, iTunes’s podcast and iTunesU brought a whole new world to me to quench my thirst of knowledge. I’m not a smart man, would be a lie to you if I’ve become an expert of anything after learning from iTunes. But, the discovery of podcasts on iTunes really gave me a lot of infotainment that it still can’t be found elsewhere in terms of scope and easiness in access. I listen to podcast on my iPhone everyday, even more than music. Cuz, I see music as a form of entertainment that can be timeless. I could listen to a song recorded in the 70s today and still enjoy it. So, I’m sure I would be still happy listen to a song recorded today in 10 or 20 years later. But, podcasts to a greater extent have a time factor. So, it would be fine to listen to a ghost story few weeks later, but it would be kinda worthless to listen to a tech news podcasts just few days old. As such, I really thank Apple to make such library of podcasts so easy to access.

Being a follower of Apple, besides the limited support I can show through product purchases, following of the news of the company and Steve Jobs has become my hobby somehow. The more I read about Steve Jobs, the more I find this person fascinating. By all means, he is neither a saint nor perfect. But, that’s the beauty of getting to know a successful being that he is a human after all. He has faults, he failed before. But, what is more important is that we can learn so much from this person through his ups as well as downs. See how insanely driven he is to be perfect and how he doesn’t compromise on status quo to produce products that most professionals will be happy with. Selfishly speaking, we would love to see him being healthy to live much longer than mere 56 years. From now on, we can only think ‘what Steve might do if he is still running Apple’ in all future product releases or when the company is facing problem. However, pulling back and looking from above a bit, his body of works in last 25 years have already shown us the ‘Steve’s ways’. For those who are smart enough, they have a way to follow. He has already achieved so much: Mac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Able to make just one of them would already leave that person a mark in tech history, but doing them all (yes I know he didn’t do all by himself, but he is an undisputed leader of their development) just put Steve Jobs up in company with only few in an exclusive class in human history of development. Given his ongoing struggle with his health in last few years, he has done more than possible for us as a tech and business leader. He basically changed the life of hundreds of million of people for God sake! I think that his legacy is likely to remain in effect to us and our next generation or two.

What really strike me the most is actually what he said in 2005. Steve Jobs gave the commencement address to the graduating students at Stanford. He told them the secret that defined him in every action, every decision, every creation of his tragically unfinished life:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Since he is neither an educator nor a politician, he didn’t make many public speeches or give interviews. What we know from him, besides from his works themselves, are just sound bites here and there. So, that speech at Stanford, given his in illness while dealing with the uprising of Apple, the combination of those experiences gave us a surprising insight of this man’s mind through that speech. I guess that speech though it is short and brief, it is significant and valuable enough to be used in life education for students of all sorts.

At the end, once again, I just wanna say ‘Thanks Steve for everything you have done, may you rest in peace!’

No comments: