The outpouring of grief has not stopped almost a fortnight after his death. People still are going over to his compound, sitting and crying, and leaving half eaten apples as a mark of respect. They are even buying the iPhone4S in the drove because they want to preserve his memory.
When was it that world mourned death of an individual as it has done for Steve Jobs? May be it was for Princess Diana. But then she was a Royalty who decided to walk away from it all and give up her riches. Her tale was what fairy tales are made of!
According to Pew Research, Steve Jobs death was the third most covered media event in US alone. The US Presidential Election campaign news topped with 22%, Occupy Wall Street movement was at 14% and Steve Jobs death was at 11%. There are no statistics available for the rest of the world; there is a good chance that his death was among the top three news coverage in every nation of the world.
There is a strange paradox that is happening in our world right now. At one end there is general angst the economic practices of corporate bodies, at the other there is unabashed love for a brand and its founder. Even more amazing may be the fact that the Apple devices are used by the protestors to spread the movement. Come to think of it, Apple is a brand listed on Wall Street.
Steve Jobs has made Apple a formidable brand, but what is its true contribution? Apple didn’t invent any of the path breaking computing technologies. Not the mouse, not the computing device, not digital music players, not smartphones, not any of the iThings that have become a rage today. They were all invented by others who didn’t become rich or famous have books written about them. Jobs himself was no programmer or engineer, he was just a businessman.
On the personal front, he wasn’t big into charity, didn’t work for AIDS eradication, or for world peace or for a hunger free Africa. His record for charity is virtually unknown, whatever he did, he kept it away from public glare. Despite all this there is no taking away from the love we all feel for the man. He is a legend and the world will remember him as one of the biggest transformational forces of modern times. He followed his passions, lived by his conviction, and did things his way.
There are two reasons why the world loves the man.
One the world loves an underdog, and Steve Jobs was an underdog. He had to surmount many personal problems to become what he became. He was an adopted son, he was fired from the company he set up, he was rehired again by the same company are the stuff that make the underdog story come alive. He transferred this underdog feeling to Apple as a brand. This kept the brand hungry that was never willing tom rest on its laurels.
Two, he was a true counter culturist. He never did what the market was doing. His classic 1984 commercial for launch of Macintosh is a clever piece of counter culture. At the age when phones were going for computer like key boards, he removed the keyboard, was a counter culture move. The whole history of Apple is a story of how to make counter culture work for a brand. The genius of Steve jobs actually didn’t lie in either being an underdog or being a counter culturist.
His genius lay in converting these two traits into a force that the world fell in love with. He made counter culture mainstream, he removed the rebellious associations of counter culture, and he made it into a powerful force that became world beater.
Steve Jobs is the rock star who did what Kurt Kobain couldn’t do. Make counter culture mainstream, and yet keep the romance in rebellion alive.
There can only be one Steve Jobs, a rebel hero and who is a commercial success and is also loved by all.