When is the world going to stop talking about Steve Jobs?” “I don’t know, as soon as Christians stop talking about Jesus?”
The untimely passing of the techno-icon has led to a deluge of skepticism, criticism, praise, and wonderment for the most influential man this world has lost in some time. This tidal wave of fanaticism will no sooner pass as mourners continue to create, post, and share digital tributes to the man who drove a consumer device-shaped wedge into interpersonal relationships. As a corporate tribute, Apple offered the equivalent of lowering its flags to half-mast by closing a number of retail stores for one hour during the memorial service.
Shortly after each person copied and pasted Apple’s eloquent tribute to its co-founder, the discussion of legacy trickled to the top. Where does Steve Jobs stand in history?
Jobs was a man relentlessly driven by success. His ferocity and tunnel vision led him to achieve monumental fame and fortune, but it also severed friendships and business relationships. And while I do agree with many of his mind-over-matter tenets in regards to mental health and remedial physical illness, I cannot deny the fact that his refusal to undergo potentially life-saving cancer surgery for nine months expedited his demise.
Jobs unleashed more grievances from the grave than any man in recent history. Given the coincidental release of his authorized biography weeks after he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, it was as if he had the last laugh in any dispute, public or private. Once a mentor to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and an associate of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Jobs told his biographer, “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank … to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product.”
“They are scared to death because they know they are guilty,” Jobs said. The man needed two sentences and a biographer to launch a final attack on Google. We’ll see if it works; it took Dickens three ghosts and 30,000 words to scare Ebenezer Scrooge straight.
I doubt that Google suffered any notable damage. If anything, it adds a negative eccentricity to the memory of a man who scorned philanthropy, and often called former acquaintances cheats and liars. While it’s never good to have the godfather of “i” pit two multibillion-dollar companies against one another, remember that more than 550,000 devices running on Android are being activated each day and Apple sold 3 million fewer iPhones than anticipated in the July-September quarter. Personally, I couldn’t be happier with my Samsung Galaxy S phone, and I like the idea of a free software system that can be used to create any device. This was the methodological split between the teacher and his students. If Google truly believes in free and open software, does it even believe that software can be stolen? Do they care?
Among his many legacies, Jobs will be forever championed as a man of great focus and control. When Page replaced Schmidt as Google CEO, he reached out to Jobs for insight. Jobs offered Page these tips, which I believe define Jobs’ legacy:
• Surround yourself with loyal lieutenants.
• Don’t let Google get lazy or flabby.
• Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up.
• Focus on five products and get rid of the rest. See also: point two.
Jobs will be remembered as a cultural icon who, with Jonathan Ive, sculpted a new frontier in consumer electronics. While his last words may have been used to sling bile at accused thieves, we must remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
What is your take on Steve Jobs’ legacy? Email [email protected].