When I started my first full time job I was a sales rep. I basically spent my day on the road driving from store to store doing the mindless crap that sales reps do. I also quickly realized that you tend to eat on the run which means you eat crap, and when I swelled to an almost unrecognizable size I decided the best way to get back in shape was to stop eating lunch completely, most days this excluded breakfast too! You can imagine how bad this was for my body. Since then I have pretty much not eaten lunch for 10 years scarred by the fact that lunch would turn me into a fat bastard again. This of course, for an averagely intelligent human being (I’m hoping I am), is *&%$ing stupid to say the least. Today I sit in a nice office, I have an assistant who guards my diary and I really have no excuse to order something every day that is healthy and fairly quick to eat. Why have I told you this stupidly long uninteresting story? Well for about a week I’ve been eating lunch in my office and I have about 10 – 15 min when I cannot play on my phone or computer but have to sit there and eat. With my ADHD this can become a bit of a problem so I’ve started to watch ‘educational’ Youtube clips. The first one I found posted somewhere online, and it’s a ‘lost’ interview with Steve Jobs from the early 90s so I decided to watch it. He doesn’t have very many of these types of interviews and I wanted to see the genius before he became the all-powerful savior of us all. I was totally blown away by the vision of the man, I mean he basically predicted 25 years ago what the future of computers was, where they were going and how they would change our lives. It really was remarkable to see how he completely got the lifespan and evolution of a product that barely existed yet. Here’s the interview, its fairly long but certainly worth it.
After that, as you do on Youtube, I started going from link to link. I spotted Steve Jobs introducing the iPod and couldn’t resist. I mean it was like being able to watch the telephone or the TV being introduced for the first time and knowing that no one in that room knew just how incredible this thing they were seeing was and how much it was about to change the world around them. What struck me immediately was the small number of people in the room, the parochial set, and small screen, the poor presentation effects and just the all-round amateurish feel but then I had to remind myself this was way before Apple became anything remotely resembling the Apple thy are today. In fact the product that Steve Jobs introduced to relative skepticism and lack of excitement was the key that was about to unlock the golden castle of Apple.
So then I decided to skip forward a bit to the next real game changer, the iPhone. In just a few years the difference was immediately noticeable The crowd was massive and you can feel the excitement in the room. The presentation was slick and mostly what we have come to expect from Apple, but the most impressive thing, was the crowd’s reaction. In the first video where they seemed to be there just for a free lunch, now they were willing to kill the person next to them to be in that room and when Jobs introduces that Apple would be launching a phone, the crowd goes mad! Without him showing the phone, without him explaining what it does and without any knowledge other than this product was now in existence, these people were in euphoria. I stopped the video for a while and tried to imagine the feeling of being able to create a brand, and its products that people want so badly and deeply that when you announce a new one it creates a frenzy of happiness among its consumers and an almost instant petrification of your competitors. I couldn’t think of another brand or product in the world that I could put in the same category.
It’s amazing to see, in a few short years, how much more confident Steve Jobs has become, how comfortable with the crowd entertainment he is and just how excited he is to be showing the world his newest creation. Lastly, what is absolutely amazing for me to watch are things that we completely take for granted now, like the swipe unlock of an iPhone and how something that simple completely blew people’s minds. But I completely get it, the first time I unlocked my iPhone I did it about 20 times. Re-living these feelings was really cool!
Watch this and wait until you hear the first iPhone ring, a sound you instantly know now.
Lastly I skipped ahead to the iPad and again the differences are clear. Firstly my heart sank when I saw Steve Jobs. He is tremendously thin and has moved from being the conductor of the total orchestra to only the main attraction and now hands over the mic for a large portion of the session. The second thing is that the crowd is still impressed by the innovation but less so than the iPhone and it almost seems like this level of innovation has now become the norm for Apple and Jobs. Imagine that, a space that quantum leaps in innovation would become expected from a company. Incredible standards he set for us all! The mood almost moved from the adoration of a young rockstar in the iPhone to the longer term appreciation and respect for a rock god. Lastly the collaboration with other suppliers is evident more than ever. I attribute this to the fact that companies in the periphery of any Apple device understands its ‘with us or against us’ with Apple and if you are against us then you are nothing. Its clear to see the companies clamoring to get into Apples good books from Yahoo to the NY Times to EA sports, all of them want to be lit up by the Jobs glow.
Have a watch.
I’ve written a few time about Apple but when Steve Jobs died I wrote a letter of thanks, an open honest and truthful recognition of a man who literally changed the entire world, little did I know just how much we would miss him. Since then we have no doubt seen Apple slip, their usual state security like ability to keep new products under wraps has melted away. Their steps forward in innovation have slowed and their delivery of devices has become questionable. We have watched Samsung innovate and win more and more and we have seen just how influential a man like Jobs was on all of us. After spending a few weeks, in 10 minutes intervals over lunch, watching my self-made mini-series of Steve Jobs’s gifts to the world I feel less and less excited by the future of Apple and indeed the industry that will never be pushed quite as hard as it was under Jobs.
We will all lose in his absence, of that there is no doubt!