I suggested earlier that I was glad Steve Jobs has gone, and despite the abuse I received for saying it, I stand by that point of view. It’s not that I dislike him as a person – I’ve never actually met him. As a businessman he was one of the greats – something I will come back to. But in terms of the effect he has had on the world, he was not a genius visionary, instead he was possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to the technology industry and therefore I cannot mourn his passing – just as I would not be sad if say George W. Bush or Gordon Brown departed this planet tomorrow.
As I said previously, as a businessman he was one of the greats, in less than twenty years he took the almost bankrupt company he founded to being the biggest technology company in the world. (By market cap at least – I would say IBM and Microsoft are bigger, but that is an argument for another time.) If that was it, I would say it’s a sad day and move on, but Jobs was more than a CEO, he was the all encompassing leader and figurehead and is therefore inextricably linked with his company, so therefore I feel he is personally responsible for all the damage he has done to the technology industry.
So what is his crime in my opinion. Simple, putting style over substance and brainwashing millions in the process. I cannot think of a single apple product which I would say is purely functional and without flaw. Take the iPod – it is probably the best of all the portable media devices, and yet it cannot be used without iTunes which alongside MacOS and Quicktime (Notice a pattern) is possibly one of the worst pieces of software ever written. Likewise some of their laptops seem to want to slice your wrists open at any given opportunity and lord help you if you want to change a battery on their mobile devices. In short his biggest sin is selling people stuff that looked good, but didn’t do anything particularly well, or in fact any better than the stuff he copied his ideas from. Then he charged a fortune for it and locked customers into a vicious cycle (Back to the great businessman again.)
The worst thing Apple and Jobs have done though is turn the technology field into a litigious pissing match. Yes, I know there were lawsuits before Apple got big with the iPhone and stuff, but since then, everybody now sues everybody over this that and the other. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple doesn’t have a patent for “The automatic production of male bovine excretory matter”, soon to be launched as iBullshit just prior to them beginning to sue livestock. The other thing is that they have brainwashed people to such an extent that the technology industry and even Apple themselves are now being hampered by it.
Take the launch of the iPhone 4GS for example. I am sure Apple put lots of work into building it with new technology but people didn’t care since it wasn’t new and shiny so they could go an show off with it and people might have thought they still had an iPhone 4. That’s of cause assuming they can actually sell it, since they have been sued by Samsung, no doubt in retaliation for Apple suing them. As for everybody else in the tech industry. They are all now measured against the style of Apple, so it doesn’t matter how good your tablet is, if it’s a millimetre thicker than an iPad, it’s a failure. If your laptop isn’t finished in razor edged aluminium then its a failure and so on, and according to their customers at least, if it doesn’t begin with the letter i, then it’s a failure.
In short, I’m not sorry to see Steve Jobs go, since he started something that is now moving with such momentum, it is going to be years, if ever, before the technology industry gets back to normality, with function taking the leading role.