In my time I have witnessed the outpouring of emotion that tends to come with celebrity deaths. None of these though, with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, quite compare to the response to the death of Steve Jobs. There were, as I'm sure everyone is aware, outpourings of grief.
Some of these seemed a bit over the top and seemed to give a bit too much credit to a man that was, after all, primarily an executive at an electronics company. Beneath all of the typical praise from the masses though was an undercurrent of scorn for all of Jobs' foibles and all of the things he could have done better and questions about the viability of Apple without its long-standing leader.
Jobs, like most humans, was not perfect. He certainly did some things that he shouldn't have. He was though, perhaps, emblematic of his generation. Jobs, like many baby boomers, was idealistic in his youth and then seemed to grow more conservative and interested in money as he aged. Jobs was interested in open-source computing and open-source architecture, but in later years there were laws in some countries, including the United States, designed almost exclusively to prevent tampering with his company's products.
However, using the occasion of his death to point out his flaws and misdeeds seems like territory usually reserved for the Westboro Baptist Church. Jobs is gone, after all. Pointing out his shortcomings so shortly after his death can serve no purpose but to hurt his friends, family and co-workers.
I think that despite becoming more conservative as he aged, Steve Jobs remained a visionary in terms of the types of products consumers wanted. A better way of putting it, though, is that Jobs built a company that was visionary in terms of the kinds of products consumers wanted. Those who are concerned about the viability of Apple without Steve Jobs obviously do not understand the man, the company he ran or the attraction to the brand.
Steve Jobs was excited about technology and excited about his company to the very end. He also tended to hire people who were excited about technology and Apple products. If you walk into any Apple store you will find that one of the qualifications for getting a job, even at the retail level, with Apple is enthusiasm for the company, the products and the user community.
Shortly before Jobs death, much was made of the wealth of Apple. At $380 billion, it was pointed out, Apple was worth more than "all of the illegal drugs in the world," among other things. Apple had, and has, the wealth, the clout and the culture to attract the best and brightest designers, engineers, programmers, marketers and executives from around the world. It seems a bit premature to predict the death of such a company within days of the death of its founder. Apple may have started out as a three-person operation with hand-built computers, but that was a very long time ago.
In conclusion, Steve Jobs was not perfect. There is no doubt that within a few years there will be enough written about the man and his career to fill a library, or at least the available memory of an iPad. He did, however, build a great company that made great products and that profoundly influenced technology and the daily lives of millions of people. If all of the remembrances and celebrations bother you, try to avoid the Internet for a few days. It will all die down, just like it always does when an icon passes away. People need their moment to grieve and to remember, it is part of the human condition.
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