The public reaction in India to Steve Jobs' death surprises me. India doesn't have a single ‘Apple Store' (stores we have are resellers), apple products in the country are ‘insanely' overpriced and most of us don't own an Apple product, yet we can feel a personal loss on his death.
This is the magic of legends for, ideas and inspirations know no boundaries. People relish seeking inspiration, and nothing triumphs like the one that with comes with a story. Steve's is an amazing story: born to an American college girl off a Syrian immigrant, adopted by working class parents, dropping out of college, ousted from the company he formed, only to come back and not only take Apple to unprecedented heights but also, and as he famously persuaded John Sculley, ‘Change the world'.
So much has been written about the genius whom we know so little. People like Steve are born one in a generation, and carry an aura with universal appeal. He may be dead now, but a part of him will live on through the invention he passed on to humanity, and Steve himself will live on through the inspiration he fills in the hearts of millions of his fans.
An inventor with more than 300 patents, ranging from those in software to screen technology to packaging, and even glass staircases; a leader, who transformed Apple into the world's most popular brand; a philosopher whose ideas have left a lasting impression and a visionary who dreamt, planned, executed and conquered.
Steve Jobs didn't ‘think different', he just thought from a ‘different perspective'. He did no market surveys or, for that matter, marketing stunts; all he did was, he saw from the eyes of the user. Sounds simple, yet so compelling, as is the case with the gadgets his company developed.
Critics say he was a ruthless boss. The best trait of great leaders is their ability to extract the best out of others, Steve exemplifies exactly that. Another remarkable thing was his professionalism. When Steve returned to an Apple in tatters, he went in for a major revamp. At the Boston MacWorld conference 1997, in his trademark spell-bounding ‘Stevenote,' Jobs surprised everyone when Bill Gates popped up on the giant screen, announcing Microsoft's collaboration with Apple. Many ridiculed him for that, but 14 years hence, you can't help but revel at his strategy. Steve knew Apple had to rise slowly and steadily, his partnership with Microsoft helped Mac Computers, which used Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and other Microsoft features, until Apple engineers developed platforms like Pages, and Safari which, of course, outperform the Microsoft counterparts.
Gift of choice
Steve's contributions extend much beyond the evident and acknowledged Apple products. In U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden's words, “He democratised technology.” Perhaps, this is his single biggest contribution. He gave us the power of choice, he led the competition in which the ultimate benefactor was the user. Mac did it for personal computers, iPhone ushered in a new era of the smartphone market, a domain which continues to show exponential growth, keeping on astounding us with products which keep getting better and better with each passing day. Of course, all of these, apart from adding newer segments like portable multimedia player and tablets to the electronic industry.
The chieftain from Cupertino came and changed the world for the better, through his innovation, and his ideas. The enigmatic wizard succumbed to what he called ‘the single best invention of life,' only to leave behind a story, which will inspire generations to come.
In Mir Saqib's immortal words:
Zamaana bade shauq se sun raha tha
Hum hi so gaye daastan kehte kehte
(The world was listening with great relish; I myself fell asleep while relating the tale).
(The writer, a student at the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)