Goodbye, Mr. Jobs

Well, that was sudden.

Only a few months after handing over the reins at Apple, Steve Jobs passed away yesterday from cancer.  He was 56.

What impressed me most about Jobs was he not only founded the company that defined personal computing – he almost singlehandedly revived the same company after more than half a decade of mismanagement.  It’s hard enough creating something great from scratch, but it’s infinitely harder to take something enormous that’s broken, fix it, and turn it into something great again.

Of course, Jobs has made plenty of decisions that many have found puzzling and downright unfriendly, perhaps most famously choosing to ditch the floppy drive on the original iMac.  But in spite of his flair for presentation and design, he seems to have steered clear of the more wanton gimmickry that has infected so many of the tech industry’s high flyers.  Pretty much every year Microsoft demos another ‘new’ idea, only to abandon it and move on to the next ‘big’ thing, once it becomes apparent that people aren’t embracing it in the fashion they hoped.

To appreciate Jobs’s legacy, you only need pick up one of those late-model Windows Mobile handsets and place it alongside an original iPhone.  It’s the contrast between something that evolved over years in conference rooms and something that was painstakingly designed from the ground up.  Jobs showed that when it comes to design, no amount of market-research and man-hours spent in meetings can substitute for genuine vision.

Rest in peace.

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