Thursday, October 06, 2011

Farewell to Steve

I sat down with my iPad last night to catch up on my blog reading and the first thing I saw was about Steve having died. We knew it was probable, but it was still a shock. When someone is so much larger than life, you don't want to believe they are bound by the same physical laws as the rest of us.

Apple started in 1977, at a time when I was becoming increasingly absorbed by computers. My first job (only job really, other than Axon) was at a local computer store. In the service department I repaired countless Apple II's. I remember when we first saw the Lisa, and then the Mac. It's hard to communicate what a revolution it was. Nowadays the world is filled with similar amazing gadgets, but not back then.

What a long way Apple has come, and a bumpy road at times. As an entrepreneur myself at that point, I remember my shock at Steve getting kicked out of his own company. Apple struggled and Microsoft grew to dominate. Back then we could not have imagined Apple ending up bigger than Microsoft. (Any more than we imagined Microsoft overtaking IBM.) And the idea that Apple would become the most valuable company in the world would have seemed like total fantasy. Steve returning to Apple and leading it to world domination still seems like a fairy tale.

Steve's abilities as a showman and salesman were alien to a geek like me. To me, what set him apart was his focus on design and user experience. Obviously, he didn't personally do all the design work. But I have to think he played a huge part in gathering and guiding his team, and shaping their culture and priorities. I can't help but wonder how things will change at Apple with Steve gone. In the short term, they will, no doubt, continue on much the same path. But in the long run, I wonder. (Just as I wonder how Axon will change when I'm not there. Not necessarily for the worse, but inevitably different.)

I don't agree with everything that Steve and Apple have done. Their closed, controlled, curated (and taxed) world is not my ideal, but it's hard to argue with what they have achieved. Apple's financial accomplishments are impressive. Even more impressive, is that they have one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings. What other company has grown so large, and yet still pleased so many people?

All in all, his life was an insanely great story.

We'll miss you Steve.

1 comment:

Larry Reid said...

Very well said, Andrew. It touches all of us from that era a little more than the rest, I think.