October 2011 Archives

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

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steve.jpgWhen I first switched on an Apple Macintosh computer in 1987, the first thing I saw was a tiny icon of a computer smiling at me. The "Happy Mac" eventually disapeared fifteen years later, but I still see it as an (if you excuse the pun) iconic example of Steve Jobs' philosophy of what computing was supposed to be about.

You could instantly see that Jobs was always emotionally involved in what Apple was doing. His keynotes weren't your average business presentations, they were events that everybody looked forward to. When he introduced a new product that he was excited about, like the iPhone, his eyes sparkled, and his enthusiasm translated to everybody in the room. Even when miscommunication happened (as during the early stages of the iPhone 4 release), it seemed to be because he was so emotionally connected to his products.

Jobs didn't just market products emotionally, he had them designed so that they would appeal to users in an emotional way. From the Happy Mac to the first bondi-blue iMac, to the first version of OS X that looked "so delicious you want to lick it". It's probably why the products create such strong emotional responses and why discussions between Apple users and Apple haters tend to heat up to ridiculous proportions.

Under Jobs' guidance, the company placed priority on preventing anything that could disrupt the emotional interaction between user and computer; this is the main reason why Apple's interface guidelines and the restrictions the company places on developers are so strict it's legendary. Still, the result speaks for itself: if people talk about hitting a computer or throwing it out the window, they never talk about an Apple Mac.