Thursday, October 6, 2011

A quick note on Steve Jobs

Our philosophies about software freedom and user choice were worlds apart, but I was an admirer of Steve, and the company that he built - basically out of his garage. He was the epitome of the American dream, a self made tycoon who (unlike most people) only sold products he was genuinely passionate about. There are stories of him getting a prototype matte black MacBook Pro (or Air, I don't exactly remember) and rejecting it because the coating attracted finger prints and body oils, and was hard to clean up. A design that would've sold millions and millions of units, but was rejected because Steve only released products that he was passionate about - products he himself would want to use. As developers, techies, designers or whatever other field we're in, there's a lot we can take from that.

Here are some interesting titbits of what I've seen written about him:

Many entrepreneurs idolize Steve Jobs. He’s such a perfectionist, they say. Nothing leaves the doors of 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino without a polish and finish that makes geeks everywhere drool. No compromise!

I like Apple for the opposite reason: they’re not afraid of getting a rudimentary 1.0 out into the world. [...]

Now, the crazy thing about that release is when the original iPhone went public, flaws and all, you know that in a secret room somewhere on Apple’s campus they had a working prototype of the 3GS with a faster processor, better battery life, normal headphone jack… a perfect everything. Steve Jobs was probably already carrying around one in his pocket. How painful it must have been to have everyone criticizing them for all the flaws they had already fixed but couldn’t release yet because they were waiting for component prices to come down or for some bugs to be worked out of the app store.
- Matt Mullenweg, 1.0 Is the Loneliest Number

I laughed nervously. After all, while it was customary for Steve to call during the week upset about something, it was unusual for him to call me on Sunday and ask me to call his home. I wondered what was so important?

"So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I've already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow" said Steve.

"I've been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I'm not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn't have the right yellow gradient. It's just wrong and I'm going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?" [...]

But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I'll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.
- Vic Gundotra, Icon Ambulance

It's just the biggest loss that Silicon Valley has ever faced. And nothing will replace this visionary figure who made a company mocked for its small market share the most profitable business in the world, not by taking shortcuts and marketing bullshit to people, but by making actual awesome goodies that anyone would want to buy.

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
- Steve Jobs (more quotes here)

Rest in peace, Steve. You will be missed.