October 22, 2011

You've Got a Friend In Me

Image from TechCrunch

Before I begin, I would like to tell all those reading on RSS feeds or receiving this post by email that this post will be very media rich, and so I would recommend that all the aforementioned people read this on the actual blog site (thecompblog.com,  for all those who don't know) to see all the embedded videos, links and photos. To add to that, this is not a post to be read in haste just before bed, or while half conscious at school or work. Take time with this post, watch the videos and read the linked articles to fully enjoy it! Make sure you CTRL + click (PC) or CMD + click (mac) to open the links in new tabs.

I had previously written a post detailing my deepest sympathy for Steve Jobs. I kept it simple, not listing everything that was going through my head as, firstly, I did not know how to place them in and secondly, because I knew that is not what Steve would have liked, I imagine.

But this is a post on everything else. Over the past 2 weeks, I have been inundated with articles about Steve Jobs. This was not a bad thing, to be clear! It was very interesting to see the outpour of strong feelings for this man, and as I have said before, it is still hard for me to fathom the loss. This is a curation of articles, photos and videos that I have found recently, which state exactly what kind of man I believe Steve was.

I would like to start with Steve's 30th birthday present from Apple: a video containing a multitude of things, from apple adverts to clips of Steve's keynotes, played with Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages". It starts off with the quote:
To Steven Jobs on his thirtieth birthday.
For the first thirty years of your life, you make your habits.
For the last thirty years, your habits make you. 

Tragically, Steve never lived to see out the next thirty years. He had died at 56.

When the news broke that steve had died, I was sleeping, but TechCrunch had posted the story on my Twitter feed, listing out the email Tim Cook sent all employees, a statement from the board of directors and Steve's family themselves. I could actually hardly believe it, until I saw the apple website, which, to quote the Fecund Muser, dealt the final blow.



That [email protected] email was only one way in which people were able to convey their feelings (for which, apple put up a nice stream of the over one million emails they got). Apple stores around the world turned into makeshift shrines for Steve. MacRumours wrote a story on some of the things people were doing. An old student from my school (CEO of EducationApps) paid tribute at the Palo Alto  apple store himself and posted the pictures he took on his Twitter page.




Aside from the ongoing stream of messages, Apple also paid its respects by flying the flags at the Infinite Loop campus half mast:


A private ceremony was held at Stanford university for friends and one only for apple employees at the Infinite Loop campus. Unfortunately, media were not allowed in, so the mourning world were not allowed to see the apparently beautiful ceremony, but there is camera footage of the crowds standing outside to listen.


At the end of the service, the theme tune of Pixar's "Toy Story" "You've got a Friend in me" was played, as Steve nurtured Pixar into becoming the biggest animation studio worldwide. Apple stores also closed early and shaded out the windows so employees could watch a live feed of the event.

A few guys also decided to make a huge portrait of steve out of 4001 sticky labels!


The BBC posted a few stories, including all of Steve's great quotes, an obituary and a story of the many tributes worldwide. I have personally found the BBCs obituary to be the best one out of the many I have read. It is the most clear and actually sticks to the style of an obituary.

Walt Mossberg, the presenter at the D conferences, wrote an article about his experiences with jobs on and offstage, detailing the kind of man he was. Walt was also the person who hosted the first ever conference between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. While many expected it to be a complete disaster, both acted as respectful ambassadors for their companies. I have put the very long video below just for ones interest.


Steven Wolfram, the founder of the WolframAlpha project, came out and told the world his meetings with Steve, while he was developing Mathematica, later to become WolframAlpha.
To me, Steve Jobs stands out most for his clarity of thought. Over and over again he took complex situations, understood their essence, and used that understanding to make a bold definitive move, often in a completely unexpected direction.
Steven Fry wrote a long, but heartfelt article on his personal blog. It might not sound like it, but trust me, it is possibly the best article describing Steve as a man and a visionary.
But what was Steve Jobs? He wasn’t a brilliant and innovative electronics engineer like his partner and fellow Apple founder Steve Wozniak. Nor was he an acute businessman and aggressively talented opportunist like Bill Gates. He wasn’t a designer of original genius like Jonathan Ive whose achievements were so integral to Apple’s success from 1997 onwards. He wasn’t a software engineer, a mathematician, a nerd, a financier, an artist or an inventor. Most of the recent obituaries have decided that words like “visionary” suit him best and perhaps they are right.
TIME Magazine did a special on Steve, using some great photos, taken by Diana Walker, TIMEs White House photographer for 20 years. Some of the portraits are really outstanding and the small commentaries provide even more insight.

Steve Wosniak, a cofounder of Apple and a good friend of Steve's, spoke with reporters about his death.


MacRumours were continuously updating their initial story regularly to include the condolences and pictures from the likes of President Obama. In that article, there are 3 videos. Don't watch them, as it will ruin the next part!

I would now like to talk about Steve as a CEO Although he was so much more than that, I believe his actions as a CEO define his morals, and possibly, his shortcomings.

MG Siegler of TechCrunch  wrote a fantastic post just after Steve had resigned as CEO of Apple.
The fuss is about all of the fuss put into making sure every pixel is exactly where it should be on every screen, in every program, all the time.
It’s his mixture of charisma, enthusiasm, and authenticity. We want to see Jobs on stage showing off the new products because we know that if he feels good enough about them to present them, that they’re going to be good.
He also presents exactly what I believe will happen to Apple as a result of him no longer being there.
It’s a bit odd to think about the day after Steve Jobs retires as CEO of Apple, but what if when he says “Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it”, it’s not just a platitude? What if he’s saying it because, like other Apple employees, he knows what’s coming?
Here are a few clips of steve speaking in a variety of situations about what the companies values consist of.




There we have it! "People call us crazy!" The perfect transition to my next piece!

Many long-time readers will remember my post on the great "Think Different" ad from Apple. It was an ad campaign that basically kick-started Apple back into a time of prosperity after the 12 dark years of Steve's absence from the company. Steve gave a presentation to announce this advertising campaign, outlining the core values of Apple and to promise that Apple would never let these slip.


[As a side note, I believe Sony has now suffered from neglect. Just saying…]

If you watch the video to the end, you would have seen the original "Think Different" advert. That is what Apple is about, and we will come onto "bits and megahertz" shortly. [Megahertz? ha! All technology geeks out there will get the joke]. I would like to quickly show you another verso of this ad, but this time, narrated by Steve himself.


If you think about this clearly, Steve actually describes himself in this version. While he would not have known it, many tech bloggers have picked up on this small, hidden treasure. The ad was never aired and only recently emerged following the death of Steve.

Apart from inspiring great products, one can argue that Steve was one of the great public speakers. From making audiences howl with laughter through unsuspected surprises, fending off tough questions to dealing with even the biggest of muck-ups, Steve did them all.

Here are a few examples of each. The first video is Steve demoing the dashboard feature. Just for reference, Longhorn is the codename for the failure that was Windows Vista (and the joke is that Apple already knew that).


…and a slightly longer, more extended one…


Steve's showmanship really was something to be praised. The following video was from the time, when Apple were making the long, and in some cases painful, switch over to Intel chips.


…and the Intel ad…


Steve was one of the best in his field when it came to dealing with bloopers and problems onstage. Most recently, the iPhone 4 Wi-Fi failure!


…and a montage of old and new bloopers…


"Massive branch prediction logic, that, I don't know, predicts branches". This is the way Steve managed to humanise technology, not to talk about "bits and megahertz", but what it can do for you, how it will improve productivity, how it will increase free time. Those are the things people actually cared about, and its what made Apple such a great company. As Steve is unable to moderate Apple any longer, there is a risk that Apple will loose that value, as seen at the most recent October keynote, where they went on and on about "dual-core processors" and such. This video is from the March iPad 2 keynote.


He wanted to humanise tech, so that the world could use them. The only problem was that there was no place to go if one had a problem or wanted help.Thats where the Apple Retail Store comes into play. They provided a central hub, if you like, for the person-to-person interaction, and not just a page of meaningless specifications.


Unfortunately, I don't think they still have that hotline to Cupertino anymore!

Thankfully, we are nearing the end of this post, but before I conclude, I am obliged to show the Stanford address Steve gave in 2005. It lets us take a step back and see Steve as a human, and not a CEO, but It is also one of the rare times that Steve opened up about his health problems.


Now, I found it very hard to come up with an end to this post. What have I not covered? Is there even anything left to say? After having a short brainstorming session, I came up with something completely obvious, something that defiantly deserves to go into this post.


The classic "One more thing"! Steve's signature move for almost every Apple keynote. 

And so, with that, I end this post! It took me a total of 3 weeks to compile, organise and write this post, and at the end of it all, I have a nice portfolio of memories and a good feeling that I have laid out a half-decent complication of all the articles and videos I watched flowing Steve's death.

He shall be missed, but, as my good friend Henry Dyer says, life goes on, yet his legacy will remain within every computer, whether mac or PC, smartphone and modern technologies, wherever they may lead us. A man like Steve rarely comes about and I am honoured to have taken part of the ongoing technological revolution. I, however, still believe that Steve had something very, very big waiting, his final master stroke, his last creation.

Farewell Steve, and as ever, we shall all be waiting for the next "One More Thing…"

Update 1: It looks like I have some other people who agree with my "One More Thing…" thesis. MG Siegler wrote another good article about what Steve has been working on, quoting the soon to be released biography, "I have finally cracked it!".

Update 2: Apple have put the memorial video up on their website, allowing the world to see it, just as long as you have an Apple product and software!

Update 3: A journalist from CNNMoney has written an article outlining his perception and experiences with Steve.

Update 4: Mona Simpson, Steve's biologcal sister, has written a eulogy for him, citing his last words: Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.