Steve Jobs Ends an Era

The news that Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple isn’t yet a day old, but already there are tens of thousands of articles about him adding to the internet. Here is another one.

There aren’t many stand-out characters in the world of technology. Names that normal people know. I can name Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. That’s it.

Bill Gates resigned as CEO of Microsoft after becoming too rich for our tiny minds to comprehend. He was a loved character that pioneered PCs as we now know them. I remember DOS as a kid, and I remember very vividly in 1995 when the latest Windows dropped. It was a while before I actually used it (underprivileged childhood) but it was magical and revolutionary. As far as operating a glorified calculator goes.

But Gates acquired his wealth in a game of monopoly. Many businesses were crushed by the sheer size of Microsoft. One could argue that innovation was stifled, competitors silenced and consumer choice limited. There still aren’t any competitive operating systems or office packages on the market.

Steve Jobs has a very romantic story with Apple. Jobs co-founded the business, went through a very public breakup, worked his way back up from scratch, rejoined and turned the company back around to it’s current dizzy soaring heights. One pretty impressive CV.

He is a funny character, a silly dress sense, vegan, Buddhist; the list goes on. A college dropout with a passion for design and typography.

His first act after returning to power was the dramatic cuts imposed on the vast range of products that were bogging Apple down, from hundreds to less than ten. I can’t think of any other company that works like that, but I bloody wish I did. (Even as I’ve typed this much, HTC have released seven new phones.) Each product launch after that was a huge deal. This only worked because Apple was now a solitary brand. Jobs cut all links around licence deals and used exclusively Apple manufactured hardware and software. As you probably know, this worked well.

I’m a fan of Jobs but I can’t say he’s a nice person. Like his nemesis Gates, he is a hyper-capitalist. Hungry, stinking rich and taking advantage of America’s Big Dream to kill all competition. Apple’s exclusivity helped the brand develop, but Jobs pushed it too far, killing any other brand that tried to exist in the same market. Even today in the EU, Samsung can’t sell their flagship Galaxy Android phones, because they look like iPhones. Apparently things looking like other things is illegal in America. On that logic, I’m not sure why Steve hasn’t sued us all for being bipeds or wearing glasses.

Today, we don’t have MP3 players, we have iPods. We don’t have smart-phones, we have iPhones. Tablet computers don’t exist yet, because the iPad got there first and destroyed any growing seeds of competition. High end consumer electronics are dominated by this ruthless brand. But they are, put bluntly, amazing works. I’m writing on a MacBook Air, and it’s perfect. However, because of this culture I’ll never own any of Apple’s other crap.

I hope he’s okay. Mortality is a cruel thing, and despite my views on Apple, they’ve sure invented some cool and handy stuff. As with Microsoft products, I do boil when I think about the lack of competition, especially when they dominate so many markets. But the iPod, digital music downloads and all that; he’s done a good job. I just can’t help but think someone else could’ve done it better, if it wasn’t for America’s ruthless monopolies.

As for Apple, they won’t suffer. They’ve blagged the iPhone and the iPad all they can, and the iPods of today are dead thanks to music on smart-phones, so Apple will burn out at some point soon. Computers are dying out and so will Macs. Tim Cook is his replacement, and he’s done a good job since Steve’s been off. So nothing to see here, despite the stock price falling by 7 percent on this news. (That’s amazing, for one person to have such an influence.)

Here’s to Steve Jobs. It’s been very entertaining. The products with those silly apple logos on have really changed the world.

You will be truly missed.