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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Steve Jobs RIP

RIP Steve Jobs. To be honest as a marketeer I had to admire the man. His impact was immense. I know the technogeeks have always been snobbish about his products, but they deliberately and sulkily under estimated the huge influence he had on technology and the general public. Perhaps other people did develop products earlier but they did not create markets in the way Apple have. People may go on about walled gardens and the like but the fact is he took technology and truly turned it into culture, creating objects that are pleasurable to hold and use, that focus on what the public want to do (even if they did not know it) and that don't need to be explained with a hundred page instruction manual.

Every time Apple brought out something new like the iPad an "expert" would always say, "I'm not sure it is has a point. I don't see people buying this." But the public did, in their millions. Great marketing is about creating demand, Apple have done that and where they have gone the rest of the industry rushes to catch up.

I bought my first Mac years ago in PC world. I was just about to buy a replacement cheap PC and was queuing to pay when I saw an iMac. I had a play and was hooked. Yes it cost more but I liked the fact I was getting a computer for my home not some ugly beast made for an office. Importantly it would do what I wanted straight out of the box, organise my photos and music. And what a box it was. Gorgeous heavy board that provided a thrill to open that I have not had since I first pulled the shrink wrap off a record as a child.

And that brings us to music. The iPod is the greatest music device ever (except for the turntable). The first MP3 player I ever owned had a 32mb drive. Later ones always seemed annoying to use. I now carry 80 gigs in my pocket, in a simple, elegant device. The arrival of CDs never stopped me buying vinyl, but to be honest digital storage of music has made me rethink.

The iPhone may be a poor phone but really, who uses an iPhone primarily to make phone calls? If I go away travelling I take an old Nokia which has a battery life that lasts weeks. To be honest when you can  text, email, tweet and update facebook so easily actually holding it to your ear and speaking into it seems a bit of a bizarre throwback to another age.

And finally, like everyone else I ever meet speaking at events I have a MacBook which serves me well. But that still does not mean I don't want an iPad...

I think the point about technology vs. culture is worth repeating. The PC is technology, the Mac and its associated products are Culture in all senses. Their reach and impact on people. Their long established link with creativity. Their focus on elegant simple design. The intuitive nature of their controls.

Apple famously once booted Jobs out of his own company over a disagreement over direction. He returned and took them to greater heights. Let's hope the people left in charge understand what he added to the company and emulate it.

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