Ten Years Without Steve Jobs

Originally published at: Ten Years Without Steve Jobs - TidBITS

It has been a decade since Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs died. Apple commemorated the occasion on 5 October 2021 with a brief video on its homepage that it has now posted on YouTube.

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I still remember the day. My wife had stayed up and heard the news when it broke and I was asleep. The next morning when I awoke and started to rise to make coffee she put her hand on my chest, stopping me, and said “I’m really sorry, Steve Jobs passed away last night, I heard on Twitter.”

It landed on me, surprising me as it did, I went up to the kitchen and searched online reading news pieces, then turned to Twit Live, the stream from Leo Laporte. It was probably midnight in California, I don’t know which host was on but someone was taking calls and folks were calling in with their stories.

This guy, a regular guy who had a computer repair business, said that how he had grown up and where he had grown up, meant working in the plant or not working and that Apple had given him the opportunity to define his own work and it be interesting and rewarding, that he had raised his family with the income from his business starting from his first Mac back in the day. The gratitude was palpable, I still recall his blunt honesty about how he felt.

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This very moving video is now available at Tim Cook’s Twitter page:

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Just to be a contrarian here…

There’s no doubt that Jobs was a visionary. However, I do wonder if Jobs may have died just in time to best preserve his legacy.

Apple was stalling in 2010. Android was out, and Samsung became a better selling phone. Meanwhile, Jobs was doubling down on skeuomorphic design while the overall design of the iPhone was getting discombobulated. It seemed that the reel to reel look of the podcast app was more important than how usable it was.

Once Jobs was gone, the iPhone interface was reworked. Skeuomorphic design was eliminated. Control over the OS was loosened. Design elements from Android were borrowed. The iPhone grew in size. Multiple models were introduced. There are now eight different models you can buy. How much of this would Steve approve?

There are times when visionaries get in the way of their company. Ford almost went bankrupt because Henry Ford refused to replace the Model-T. Edison was pushed out of control of Edison Electric because he wouldn’t consider AC power, Edison Phonograph couldn’t compete against Victrola. Edison Moving Pictures lost out to Hollywood.

Jobs’ vision was needed to create the iPhone and iPad, and they grew beyond his vision.

I wish less of it would have been approved, actually.

I miss Steve’s focus as well as his willingness and ability to get involved in the actual product. Show me another Fortune 50 CEO that does that and does it as well as Steve did.

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I’ve had similar thoughts. He was looking into things like touch screens, voice control, and all-in-one computers in the early '80s. The iPad was the culmination of his vision. His work on this earth may simply have been done.

A keyboard and trackball free iPhone debuted in 2007, and it was a totally, completely, 100% touchscreen, revolutionary interface design that was completely unique among mobile phones. From that moment in time, Steve Jobs really did change the world of telecommunications. And Steve worked in tandem with Jony Ives on iPhone and Mac interface design. To date, the interface that Jobs and Ives developed is still the industry standard starting point for mobile phones. And although I was carrying on like a banshee here on Tidbits Talk that Jobs would probably destroy Apple if he enters an already super saturated market, the minute I saw iPone’s revolution design and interface, I was totally floored. And I did very willingly eat crow about iPhone and its somewhat skeuomorphic interface. And in tandem, there was the introduction of the App Store. And not long after, iPhones with Retina Displays and and for the time, really good cameras. The somewhat skeuomorphic made it easy for new users to quickly locate and and access whatever stuff they wanted to.

The somewhat skeuomorphic design of the original Mac interface was truly revolutionary as well. At a time when personal computers were becoming standard on desktops, being ably to quickly locate and access applications, documents and projects was a tremendous selling point in a DOS driven world. Yes, the stupid leather and bookcase design were examples of bad skeuomorphic design and deservedly were the subject of ridicule, they did not linger for long.

And don’t forget how somewhat skeuomorphic design made 1984 not be like 1984.

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Tim Cook. And although I do not like anything about Facebook and/or Mark Zuckerberg, he does meet that standard. Sunder Pichai of Alphabet is another good example. Though Jeff Bezos did recently back away from Amazon, he’s earned a place on this list.

I must respectfully disagree. Tim Cook is a process genius and a bean counter. He is not a product guy. Steve Jobs presented new products himself. Cook never does. Tim Cook was taught by steve the importance of reading customer e-mails.

Sundar Pinchi cannot be reached by customers. He moved an excellent product support organization from the US firing great product support engineers and replacing them with low paid poorly educated typical Calll Center drones.

I still use Google Fi but dumped Google Voice due to lack of any meaningful support. And i used YouTube since there is no viable alternative.

Bezos was a genius and very involved in product until he got super rich and faced a midlife crisis, cheated on his wife, then divorced her and traded up to a new, younger and more attractive partner.

Of the three you mention, only Bezos was, like Jobs, the founder of his company. Only Bezos can be said to have changed the world in a revolution of new retail paradigms.

Bezos was wise to step away from Amazon and retire to the board. Amazon is another virtual monopoly without viable competition and Bezos was probably bored with it.

All these companies are money machines and the management teams are all top notch. I am a stockholder in all three and as a stockholder I am very pleased with their financial performance.

But to compare Cook and Pinchi to Jobs? Not even close.

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I agree that the design was revolutionary. Unlike most people, I know the Mac interface wasn’t anything like the Xerox Parc interface.

However, it was Jon Rubinstein who was head of design and software at Apple. He headed software and design. When Jobs died, he was replaced by Jonathan Ive who brought a new flat design astatic to the Mac and iPhone. Ive unified the iOS interface. It had actual layers. Sheets always went over the background.

When the Mac first came out, there was a disk that came with it to train users to click, double click and pull down menus. The iconography was important because it was never seen before.

The world is a bit different now. Touch interfaces are well known. Even babies know how to touch and swipe. All desktop computers have mice, menus, and icons. Buttons don’t need to be three dimensional for me to know their buttons. Calendars don’t need to look like the one I have on my desk. Contacts doesn’t need to look like a spiral notebook.

I too would like a little more design control. The touch interface is getting overloaded. I’d like to see the iPad switch from a touch centric interface to a more Mac like interface when a keyboard and pointing device is added. Why not have a menubar and keyboard shortcuts? I feel that computer desktop interfaces are a bit too overloaded.

What’s the desktop for? It’s either packed with crap or barren like a desert. Should we use tags rather than folders as an organizing principle? A decade ago, it was a stupid question. Now people know what tags are.

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Just one counter example…Steve Jobs was never involved with the development of Apple Watch at all, and Steve had no involvement in Watch apps, services or any of the many health oriented scientific partnerships Watch is involved in, including Fitness+. Tim Cook Was not only successful in creating Watch, he changed the world with the many features and services Watch offers.

Air Pods are another. And don’t forget Apple Pay, Apple credit card, Wallet and its new financial services stuff. There’s Apple News and News+. Though I’m personally not a gamer or a fan of Apple TV or TV+ and Arcade, these are totally Tim’s innovations. He also has kept expanding Music’s offerings, including services that benefit artists and producers.

Though not in so many words, Tim more or less told Intel to perform obscene acts upon themselves and their crummy chips. He was responsible for developing Apple’s own chips which are currently smoking the competition in terms of speed, battery power and longevity. He also accelerated Apple’s hardware and software development cycles. Though he worked closely with Steve on the development of iPhone, after Steve’s death he developed Face ID and other stuff, and also kept iPhone cameras ahead of the competition. He also developed the Mac Pro and Pro Display. He expanded the iPad line and developed iPhone SE.

In addition to turning Apple into the world’s first trillion $ company, and in to the world’s first two trillion $ company, he’s kept Apple’s stock price and market capitalization soaring. He did all this and more while keeping Steve Job’s vision for easy and delightful, highly outstanding, high quality products and services alive and thriving.

Tim was also the first Fortune 500 CEO to publicly admit to being gay, and he’s very vocal about equal opportunity for all.

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No other personal memories of Steve out there?

He replied to one of my emails. I had that. He spent it pointing out the error of my ways of course but I’ll not forget the shock of getting it.

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One takeaway from Steve’s presentation style I took on was his overall approach to launching anything new.

  • tell them briefly what they’re going to hear about.
  • then tell them in detail what you’re here to talk about.
  • then tell them what they just heard, in summary.
    People hear it three times, in outline, in detail and in summary.
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An old, common and effective speaking strategy:

Tell ‘Em What You’re Going To Tell ‘Em; Next, Tell ‘Em; Next, Tell ‘Em What You Told ‘Em – Quote Investigator

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The original iPhone launch took 80 minutes but was mesmerising with so many revolutionary features. Steve took the audience along with each reveal - brilliant!
There are many copies online. This one is OK:

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I like this take from Dr. Drang’s, which was made after Steve Jobs death, but reposted on Twitter on this 10th anniversary: Jobs was simply Right about the role of computing in human lives…

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My favorite Steve Jobs moment is when he’s talking about how beautiful the new Mac iBook is, then picks up the iBook to show the audience the screen, and the audience suddenly realizing there’s no cord for the Internet on it. It was the introduction of WiFi.

Steve even took a hoop and passed it around the MacBook as if he’s doing a magic trick. You can see him grinning from ear to ear. He loved doing that and the audience’s reaction.

At that point in time, you knew everything was going to be okay at Apple.

The 13:46 minute mark.

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Sorry to tell you but Tim Cook is not a product guy. He is an outstanding administrator and bean counter and delivers the profits quarter after quarter…

But if Tim Cook were a product guy he would have fired Craig Federighi, a nice guy and a great presenter, who has yet to lead Apple software to a single best in class Application.

Nobody beats Apple’s OS. Based on Mach and enhanced by Steve Jobs at Next, it is as Jobs would say, insanely great.

But name an app, any app, developed by Apple under Tim Cook and Craig Federighi that might be considered best in class. I can’t think of a single one.

The space between insanely great and bad is called mediocre. Apple makes mediocre application software.

Tim Cook killed the Touchbar because Apple’s Touchbar Management software was useless. Look at Better Touch Tool running Aqua Touch to see the possibilities.

The Finder. Hasn’t been updated since it was released in 1984. Look at Cocoatech’s PathFinder 10 to see the possibilities Tim And Craig are blind to them.

How about cut/copy/paste in Clipboard management. Same concept since 1984. See the Paste app for a truly modern clipboard manager.

Default Folder X lets you set up a default location for every app that save files.

So sorry Tim Cook is an outstanding CEO but neither a visionary nor a genius.

Sundar Punchi doesn’t ever listen to customers. I had to give up the free Google Voice to buy a better and better supported product.

Punchi fired a great US support team and moved all support to India, where the cultural differences prevent effective communication. Penny wise but pound foolish.

But there is still a lot of brilliance and innovation at Google and they’re not afflicted with the “not invented here” syndrome that shackles Apple.

So in conclusion there was only one Steve Jobs, and he did in fact change the world. Steve refused to do any market research because he said “people don’t know what they want until I show it to them!”.

[quote=“fogcitynative, post:18, topic:16865”]

I have no interest in an Apple watch. All the software you mention is for the watch. Not familiar with any of it.

I am not a gamer either. Although I subscribe to the package that provides everything.

As a stockholder I am glad watch, arcade and health are successful, but I am the wrong demographic for those products.

Apple TV+ created the great series The Morning Show. I am a huge fan but TV programming isn’t application software.

I.prefer the interface on Spotify to Apple music.

I like News+ In concept but again the interface is difficult to navigate.

Sorry I don’t care who invented or promoted it, but the Touchbar is great with the right software. Have you yourself personally ever evaluated Better Touch Tool?

Apple has stuck by Siri for years yet has never made it actually work when compared to Google’s voice recognition software. But you don’t see Apple killing Siri the way they killed Touchbar after only a few years

Do you use any third party apps with your Mac? Or are you a 100% company guy using only apps that come from the App Store? Clearly if you are using Apple’s watch, everything on it comes from the app Store.

I could not go back to just using Apple’s Finder. Again, have you ever actually used Pathfinder?.

And how can you be happy with Apple’s clipboard management?. To my knowledge Apple has no clipboard management software. Have you ever used any third party clipboard management?

How do you handle folders on your Mac for saving files? Do you just use Apple’s Pictures, Documents, Movies, and Downloads and navigate to them from the sidebar in Finder?

I agree totally that Apple is better than Windoze and Android. In truth Apple has no real competition. They are a virtual monopoly. Sure they have competition and users have choices, it is just all the choices are inferior.