My brother gifted me a 2nd generation video iPod back in 2006. That was my first brush with an Apple product. That was such a turning point. “You’ve tasted blood”, mocked a friend of mine, “and this is a point of no return.”
He was so right. 7 years and 3 more apple products later, I find myself using these products as if they were a “natural extension of myself” – much like what Jobs envisioned his products to be. So much so, that without knowing anything about Steve Jobs, I was a fan of the person behind the product. I was in awe of a man whose attention to detail and quest for perfection, changed the way the world functioned.
He pushed the enveloped, created products that create a new market, new secondary matter of applications accessories – millions of dollars, countless jobs! And as much as I believed that it was never a one-man-army, it was somehow believable that Jobs was the fountainhead of that vision.
When Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, I was engulfed in a sense of remorse – as if someone close to me had died. As if someone who cared about me was no more. Ironically, I hardly even knew the person. Apart from his dramatic product-launch presentations and press clippings, I hadn’t read and heard a word about this man.
So when I went in to watch “Jobs”- the movie, I went in hoping to see a person full of insight, full of passion and someone so content with creating concepts and products which revolutionized the worlds. Purely on the basis of what I saw in the movie, I came back far too uninspired by Steve Jobs as a person.
He cared too much about his product to care about the people involved in its making. He sought a certain perfection that only he could envision. Not that he didn’t compliment his friends, not that he wasn’t enough appreciative, but his imagination continuously overpowered the projected outcome. “What is the next paradigm shift” seemed to always over power “what about the people in my life”?
Right from abandoning his girlfriend when she announced her pregnancy, to sacking his relatively inefficient friend, to letting go of the one man who stood with him for his vision in the initial years, Jobs simply didn’t care. Was it a failure in trusting people? Did he assume that such worldly ties, would stop his meteoric rise? Or was he simply all about the product?
Clearly, he wasn’t about the profit. While he always knew how to price his products and command a premium, it was in fact his attention to details and perseverant strides to achieve a better user experience, even if it was a cost that lead him to some of his failures – the first macintosh, for example. He wasn’t shy of admitting he was going for costlier options, but his reason (as unpopular as they would sound) were solid and were for the customer’s benefit.
He was simply following a vision for perfection – much like following the rainbow in the hope of finding a pot of gold. Did he really find it? Did becoming the “Worlds most valuable company” fulfill his dream? I wonder…
Even if it did, my question is, what is the price one pays to become a Steve Jobs? To lose friends, to not be connected with family, to be mocked at for his apparent arrogance – are those the qualities that I am willing to live to with to be at the helm of a respected company?
I don’t know the answer and I suddenly find myself questioning if I respect the product as much anymore. If I knew so much of Steve Jobs, would I have cared to shed a tear at his death? And then why only Steve Jobs, what about all the celebrities whose work is the only connection we have to their personality. Is Meryl Streep really the Devil who wears Prada? Is Amitabh Bachhan really a super citizen thanks to his social messages delivered in a credible tone or just a super star? Rajni really (K)cant do everything.
While their work is exemplary and inspiring, the people behind it might be just an imperfect as their audience. A bit like a bubble that burst, Jobs is a movie that reminded me that only a product can be perfect – people are invariably full of imperfections.
And Apple, is after all flawlessly executed vision of a man, who had his own tragic flaws.
Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs.