Jobs Opening

1 commentArtists

Steve leaves (Click to link to the letter).

Today, Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple. While this is hardly a shock, it is certainly an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of a man whom many, including myself, consider an inspiration. While the story of how Steve Jobs turned Apple around from a faltering niche player to the most valuable company in the world is already the stuff of legend, I think the man’s greatest achievement is in the dissolution of boundaries.

Boundaries define the world we live in. They delineate the rich from the poor (or, as is often the case, keep the poor away from the rich), neighborhoods from slums, the exclusive from the commonplace. When boundaries are universally acknowledged or upheld, they become borders: between classes, races, political parties, and nations.

At the level of Technology and Entertainment, conceptual boundaries exist(ed) between luxury (Bang & Olufsen) and function (Sanyo), Professional (Avid) and Consumer (Sony), Businessman (IBM) and Artist (Apple, in its early days). Practical boundaries existed between tablets and computers, mouse and keyboard, phones and laptops, desktops and laptops, stationary and mobile. Legal boundaries existed between music you own and music you rent, originals and copies, box editions and downloads.

Over the years, with products like the Mac, iPod, iTunes Music and App Store, and of course the uncontested iPad, Steve Jobs and Apple continue to erode these boundaries to the point of almost total dissolution. Long considered a luxury computer, the Mac is now accessible to the masses, finally outselling the PC. The iPod slashed across classes to become synonymous with and even replace the phrase “portable music device.” Their retail outlets (the succinctly named Apple Stores) take on the form of a luxury boutique (with all its material trappings), combining the beautiful minimalism of modern design with the accessibility and openness of a public venue.

Their products allow the average consumer access to professional grade tools for multimedia production, bringing the ability of self-expression to anyone almost independently of financial and educational means. In other words, creativity is now the ultimate determining factor, almost unimpeded by socially imposed restrictions or even technology. While Android and Windows wallow in their own lofty goals of being everything to everyone and thus fragmenting into different versions in the latter case and multiple form factors in both cases, Apple keeps it simple. It has one Operating System in OS X (which with Lion is already merging with iOS, which powers its mobile devices), one iPhone, one design aesthetic (silver and black), one target demographic (“the rest of us”), one keynote speaker.

“Make me one with everything,” said the Zen Master to the hot dog vendor. As a Buddhist, Jobs has always agreed. The business world is in constant need of a guru, and his departure has left the position wide open.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ambar November 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm

You really make it seem so easy with your prsatnteeion but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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