by Curt Finch

Steve Jobs—Products for the People

Oct 18, 20114 mins
AppleComputers and PeripheralsConsumer Electronics

Let’s go invent tomorrow rather than worrying about what happened yesterday.

-Steve Jobs, May 30, 2007

Just two months ago, I wrote about the significant role that Apple has played in the consumerization of IT.  Jobs gave us so many monumental moments in technology history, from the original Macintosh all the way to the iPad.  It stands to reason that his death feels monumental, as well.  Apple says that they have lost their “creative genius” and they are certainly right.  Jobs had an uncanny ability to see what could exist in technology and then create a product that was not only functional and beautiful, but easily accessible for the masses. 

There’s a very strong DNA within Apple, and that’s about taking state-of-the-art technology and making it easy for people…people who don’t want to read manuals, people who live very busy lives.

-Steve Jobs, September 22, 2005

There is such a strong desire to understand more about Apple’s creative genius that one book, I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words is being rushed to appear this month instead of waiting until its originally scheduled March publication date.  I, Steve is a collection of quotes from Jobs that have been compiled into one book by George Beahm and published by B2 Books, an imprint of Agate Publishing.  The book almost hauntingly ends with Jobs’ letter of resignation as CEO of Apple.  I spoke with Doug Seibold, president of Agate, about this book.  “Our book is going to be the very first out there that is really a collection of Job’s own words,” said Seibold.

The roots of Apple were to build computers for people, not for corporations.  The world doesn’t need another Dell or Compaq.

-Steve Jobs, October 18, 1999

For Steve Jobs, the focus has always been on consumer products and inspiring creativity.  Especially in our current economic state, we need products that empower our knowledge workers to be as creative as possible.  That’s what Apple products were designed to do.  Jobs also incorporated art with technology. 

Seibold describes it almost like a mathematical equation:  “At the intersection of simplicity and elegance you find optimal functionality — they reinforce each other.  Jobs believed that if something is simple and if it is elegant, then it is going to be as functional as it can possibly be.  In order to find functionality, you need to seek out that simplicity and that elegance. That’s what Jobs was always looking for – it was his whole approach to his business.”  And from the beginning, Apple used this stance to differentiate themselves from other companies, from IBM in the 80’s, to Microsoft and Dell in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

We designed iMac to deliver the things consumers care about most—the excitement of the Internet and the simplicity of the Mac.  iMac is next year’s computer for $1,299, not last year’s computer for $999.

-Steve Jobs, 2004

Jobs had a goal of always looking ahead in technology and providing products that consumers could not have asked for.  As Seibold describes, “Jobs was able to figure out where things were going, to see different things that were out there, to put them together brilliantly in the product that they created, and to market and promote the hell out of these things and convince people to adopt them.” 

And indeed, Jobs changed the environment of technology multiple times, especially in recent times with the demand of mobile devices largely pushed by the iPhone and the iPad.  And even though Apple doesn’t go after the corporate demographic, their products affect businesses in a big way.  Now with the push of mobile devices, more and more businesses will have employees working during non-traditional work hours or outside of the office.  That will be a huge change that businesses will have to deal with.

We’re not going to be the first to this party, but we’re going to be the best.

-Steve Jobs, April 8, 2010

Will Apple be able to continue Jobs’ legacy?  Apple says that “his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple,” which is encouraging.  Seibold had this to say about the current Apple culture:  “My sense is that they’ve developed a much stronger culture than they may have had in the 80’s…I believe that [Jobs’ death] is something for which they’ve been preparing for a long time.”  Time will tell if Apple can continue Jobs visionary thinking into the future.  I hope so.

Quotes reprinted with permission from the forthcoming book “I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words,” edited by George Beahm, Agate B2, October 19, 2011.