Sometimes Randal, you know just what to say with no words at all.
All posts tagged Steve Jobs
This is a day I have dreaded since his first leave of absence in 2009. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., has died at the age of 56.
I guess I just thought he had more time. That’s the only thought I had in my mind as I walked home from dinner this evening after learning of Jobs’ passing. We knew he was sick, that he had been struggling for years, that he could no longer function as CEO. I just thought he could fight on a little while longer, given his penchant for stubbornness. And yet here we are. The tech industry is reeling from this news. Blogs, analysts and news agencies are all launching their obituaries and condolences. The internet tonight is dedicated to Steve Jobs.
I come at this from a very personal place. Steve Jobs was an icon to me since I first became cognizant of his existence over a decade ago. Any adjectives I can use to describe him seem to fall short of capturing who he really was, especially since I only know of him from his public appearances. Suffice to say, he was a man of vision. He saw a seemingly unattainable future of personal computing and has never stopped reaching towards that future. Some call him a “master of the sales pitch”, the “reality distortion field” others say. Apple fans ascribed to him a sort of prophetic quality. His word was law. His vision became reality. Steve Jobs oversaw the development and release of the greatest personal electronics the world has ever seen. The Apple II, The Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, OS X, iOS, the iPhone, and the iPad are all his children. These devices – simple amalgamation of metal, circuitry and plastic; bits and code – have had lasting effects on our world. They have elevated the realm of computing from something utilitarian into something elegant and beautiful. It was Steve Job’s vision of perfection, of a device without compromise, that lead to these groundbreaking products.
Steven Jobs started Apple Computers Inc. in 1976 with Steve Wozniak. Their first major product, the Apple II, was built entirely by Woz and became one of the first truly successful personal computers. In 1979, Jobs visited the XEROX PARC and saw the first use of a graphical user interface. This was the future and for the next five years Jobs slaved away on the single most important product the computing world would ever see: the Macintosh. With one fell swoop, Jobs had changed computing forever into something accessible for actual people. 1985 saw Jobs’ departure from Apple. As remarkable as his products were, Jobs could be overbearing and violently stubborn in his managerial style. It was too much for the company to take.
Jobs did not go quietly. Instead, he founded Pixar Animation Studios and went on to head one of the greatest animation studios in the world. He also started NeXT, a company that would eventually be his ticket back into Apple. Returning to Apple when NeXT was acquired in 1997, Jobs found his company almost bankrupt and embarked on a quest to save it. He ultimately did, never stopping in that quest until the day he died. Today, Apple is the largest company in the world and has released in the past 10 years more industry defining products than any other company in consumer electronics. This is owed to Jobs’ perfectionist style, his eye for simplicity, his desire to make computing accessible for everyone.
It is poetic that Jobs passed away the day after the announcement of the iPhone 4S. I know he desperately wanted to be there to launch that phone. While it remains to be seen, I think that Siri could be his final and more important gift to the world. An artificial intelligence that can truly understand our requests. How much more accessible does it get than that? This industry that I love so dearly, that I am devoting my life to, is indebted to the efforts of Steve Jobs. As am I. He made me care about technology. To look at computers not just as tools, but as devices to enrich our lives. The world owes much to Steve Jobs, more than is readily apparent.
Jobs is survived by his wife Laurene Powell, and their three children, a son and two daughters. His other daughter, Lisa, from a previous relationship and for whom the Apple Lisa is named also remains to pass on his memory. As does all of Apple.
My readers around the world: grab a drink and raise your glasses to Steve Jobs. He’s off to the big iCloud in the Sky.
Below is the official announcement from Apple:
I think I jinxed it. Yesterday I was praising Steve Jobs as a possible savior of HTML5. His enigmatic but energetic personality could be a useful strength to promote HTML5 and end Google’s impression of WebM on the standard. However, today Jobs has announced that he is taking yet another medical leave of absence. Through most of 2009, Jobs left Apple on medical leave, citing nutrient deficiency and most likely complications from his 2004 pancreatic cancer procedure. Jobs had a liver transplant during that 6-month leave of absence and returned looking weak, but healthy. Today’s announcement places doubts on the success of those procedures and again raises the question of Job’s longevity at the company he created.
I’m really hoping that Jobs pulls through. It’s no secret that I am a fan of the man, not necessarily for his personality or “reality distortion field” but because the man has had a vision that, stubborn as it is, has drastically furthered the computer industry. The question of succession also comes to mind, who can replace a man like Jobs? Get better soon Steve, you’re our only hope.
Fall out continues from Google’s announcement last week of dropping H.264 support from the Chrome browser. It has become clear that while Google hides behind a veil of promoting openness on the internet and ending the codec schism, they are really making a move to promote WebM and even send support to their buddies at Adobe. It’s bad people and every media outlet with some stake in the future of HTML5 has come out with near universal disapproval. Of course, some support it in the genuine belief that we should not have royalties associated with HTML5. While that is a completely valid belief, don’t think for a second that’s Google’s real intention.
So I’m going to suggest something pretty radical here, and bear with me as I explain. We don’t need Google to be HTML5’s guardian. Instead, I nominate Steve Jobs. Over the past few years, Jobs has on rare occasions released manifestos of sorts on topics that he feels are worthy of an extended response beyond his usually terse emails. It was Jobs who placed the last nail in the coffin on DRM for music downloads when he released his “Thoughts on Music” essay in 2007. Few fully comprehend how much of a landmark effort that was by Jobs, unequivocally placing Apple is support of a world without DRM. By later that year, EMI was offering DRM-free content and eventually the entire music industry folded in 2009.
Then, in 2010 Jobs provided another manifesto against the current state of web video with “Thoughts on Flash”. While less ground breaking than ending DRM, the remarks about Flash laid down the law in Apple’s development community that they will do all in their power to move away from the plug-in that they only begrudgingly have to support. Jobs alluded to HTML5 often in that essay, but I think he can guide HTML5 away from the damage that Google has created. It may involve the “Reality Distortion Field” but HTML5 needs an enthusiastic leader. Jobs and Apple was that leader for iOS, but they now need to lead the rest of the internet.
I’m not saying this because H.264 has to be the codec of choice, but because Google propping up Flash with their move towards WebM. It’s no secret Google has gotten very cozy with Adobe over the years. They bundle Flash 10.1 with Android 2.2, Youtube continues to be one of the largest repositories of Flash video on the net, and Chrome now has Flash player bundled in it. In Google’s ideal world, you will have two options for video: Flash with H.264, and HTML5 with WebM. Sure, Google may want to see HTML5 end Flash eventually, but not as long as they have such a rich relationship. Think about it: clearly Adobe was very threatened by Apple’s refusal to adopt Flash video on iOS. So they turned to Google as their trojan horse into the mobile space. Google makes it clear they are ok with Flash continuing, this is a quote from their Chromium Blog post yesterday regarding the issue:
H.264 plays an important role in video and the vast majority of the H.264 videos on the web today are viewed in plug-ins such as Flash and Silverlight. These plug-ins are and will continue to be supported in Chrome.
See? Google is saying that if you want H.264 video, just turn to Flash and Silverlight plug-ins. Plugins like the WebM version arriving for Safari and IE9 soon.
Given that Adobe and Google are creating a power play against Apple and the rest of the MPEG, I think Jobs is the man to continue the support of H.264 as the preferred codec for HTML5. There should be no compromise. How does Jobs do this? Apple extends an olive branch by forgoing the royalties they would get from their contribution to the H.264 standard. The time is now for Apple to nail Flash’s coffin shut by ensuring that H.264, the best video codec on this damn earth, does not remain a jewel in Flash’s crown. Help us Steve Jobs, you are our only hope.
It goes without saying that I and pretty much the entire world was pretty taken away with the iPhone 4 at its announcement in June. The device is drop dead gorgeous, pretty amazingly powerful, and rocking many late features needed to fight the competition.
And then “Antenna-gate” struck. The iPhone 4 uses a novel external antennae integrated into the steel band that forms the frame of the phone’s structure. This is intended to improve reception for the device, and by most accounts has indeed done so. Most reviews of the device detailed how reception, call clarity, and range has greatly improved for the device over its predecessor. However, there appears to be an inherent flaw with the device. Signal attenuation – a phenomenon that occurs with all mobile phones to some extent due to the conductivity of the human body – has been amplified with the iPhone due to the direct contact that is inherent in an external antennae. Once the media caught wind of this, the internet exploded in controversy. Continue Reading
Apple just released the Quicktime video of their event today and I’ve taken a few minutes to see what every journalist saw and see if it changes my mind a bit. And it does… sort of.
Really what the video did was solidify what I felt the iPad should have been and what it can be. Seeing Jobs (who by the way is looking much healthier) use the device which such ease and efficiency really does expand the possibilities of how useful the device could be in my day-to-day life. Browsing, viewing movies, and enjoying content seems so much better on the iPad than on my lowly netbook or an iPhone, it’s just a shame I can’t do it all at the same time.
But what’s the most assuring thing is that Apple gets it, at least in theory, about why this is the solution to their device in between a Macbook and iPhone, and not a netbook. As Apple said, you have a smartphone, and you have a laptop, and both can do similar features, but neither is solely built for those features. A phone is primarily for voice calls, with internet and media playback being secondary. It can be done well, but that is not the primary design. Laptops also do those things, but at least from Apple, laptops are built with hardware and capabilities that far exceed those tasks. So your in-between device needs to be something that does those common tasks as elegantly and easily as possible. Continue Reading