The way I see it, Steve Jobs will be remembered for having created the world’s biggest corporate cult, a cult so blinding in its hold that its devotees no longer cared if others were making more technologically advanced products at a lower price. As far as they were concerned, if it was not an Apple, it would never be perfect.
This is not to say that Apple devotees were mindless zombies. Okay maybe they are but you could not blame them, just like you could not blame a moth for flying into the flame. Jobs was that awesome.
Like those who claimed to speak to Gods, Jobs delivered Zennish koans and inspirational commandments . Like cult leaders, Jobs abhorred technological and organizational glasnost, used a fearsome legal team to pursue anyone who was perceived as a threat, even a nineteen year old blogger and was intolerant of criticism to the point of being petulant—he removed all books of John Wiley and Sons from Apple’s retail store because they had published a book about him that he did not approve of.
But unlike other prophets who merely promised great joys in the great beyond , Steve Jobs actually delivered in this life. Year after year, Apple came out with stunning technological products that shook up the industry with unfailing predictability.
How did the man do it? It’s impossible deconstructing the methods of a genius (if it was possible, I would be one) but one thing is obvious—for Jobs, technology was never really a list of technical specifications or about making a set of “See I do better than yours” benchmarks. It was about getting into the very head of the customer, to understand what exactly makes us “love” something.
Humans are drawn viscerally to good-looking people, who are also simple to understand and interact with us in a pleasant manner. Jobs was successful in engineering each of these things into Apple products—-they were always invariably drop-dead gorgeous, had very simple, intuitive “Why didn’t I think of that before” interfaces and provided an user experience like nothing else in the market. And once he had done so, competitors would bang their heads against the door as much as they wanted and scream in impotent rage “But our products have better tech specifications and cost less”—but to no avail.
Better luck convincing the Pope to become an atheist.
Creating this kind of a global religious reverence to something that is sold in the marketplace is unprecedented in the history of the world. It’s all the more remarkable when you realized that the basic idea of all this from the mind of one man, who blazed through the twilight zone of technology, art, design and marketing, in a way none has before.
And perhaps, no one ever will.