Thursday, October 06, 2011

I'll say it if no one else will...

This blog post will no doubt generate discussion (and probably visceral hatred) but the news has been made of Steve Jobs' (Former Apple CEO) tragic death. I have watched a torrent of news clips and Facebook updates deifying the man. Yes, let me be clear, his death was tragic. I don't mean to belittle the ravages of pancreatic cancer or of Steve Jobs' legacy as a business man and entrepreneur. He knew how to make money and sell stuff.

However, I always thought Steve Jobs was the epitome of the worst elements of consumer culture and big business. Yes, he made gadgets and computers chic, but let's be clear about what he did before we canonize him as a saint. He made people addicted to gadgets they didn't need, most of which (the gadgets not the people) are now in land fills because his ability to sell anyone anything made his latest gadget all the rage and the now obsolete one went right into the trash. Apple was always at the bottom of Environmentally Friendly Corporation lists.

His smug attitude and violent temper were the stuff of legend, and I think these attitudes filtered down to the people that bought his materialistic gadgets. I never cared for Apple products because most Apple users I know mirrored his smug, "I'm so superior because I have an Apple product" attitude. I never understood why this was exactly, because Apple products treated their users with contempt. You pretty much have to use the Apple computer or product operating system as is. You had no freedom to alter it in any way. All Apple products I ever tried operated on a completely "take-it-or-leave" operating shell which I always thought infantilized the users.

Likewise, I never thought anything he came up with was all that original. There were MP3 players before the IPod. There were user friendly operating systems before the multi-colored Macintosh computers. There were touch screen phones before the I-Phone. Jobs genius was in tweaking things and reselling them. If that is something worth deifying, then so be it.

Yes, his death was tragic, but Steve Jobs, like anyone else, goes into the Arms of the Almighty only because of God's grace, not of anything he did of his own free will and intellect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My son used to write a tech column for a famous business weekly. Every time he wrote something even slightly negative about an Apple product he would get death threats. Death threats!!

I personally love having an iPhone (have not upgraded it in 2 years and have no need or desire to). But I remember very well when I built my first computer in 1990, it was a PC because even to build, not buy, an Apple was expensive, proprietary and too out of range for low income. Apparently my attitude was prevalent because 95% of the computers were PCs for many years and 75% of the software written was for PCs. That wasn't exactly a genius move by Jobs.

Nonetheless, he was pretty visionary and I do admire his work.