15/09/2014

On @jiggityk Steve Jobs Watch essay



Last week I read Jong-Moon Kim's essay on what he felt could have been better about Tim Cook's product unveiling and how Steve Jobs would have done it better. On reading the essay I initially felt uneasy and morbid, but since then I've been unable to shake off the content.

Whilst I don't deny the essay is an interesting piece of writing and I don't want to take anything away from the creative execution of the concept, I think it's in real danger of overlooking the fact that it's pure fiction. The characters and events in the essay are real enough, but the contents of the essay is total pulp.

I agree that Apple's current product strategy is confusing and I also agree that the product launch left me with mixed feelings. However to suppose that anything is worse for Apple now than before, is a huge leap of imagination. Firstly many people I know at Apple are much more optimisitic under Tim Cook's leadership. Although Jobs will always be recognised as a icon in the tech world, he was not renowned for being a brilliant manager. What we see on the exterior of Apple may not represent the seismic changes that have happened inside. With a product cycle that spans over at least 5 years, the output from Apple today is most likely the matters put in motion whilst Jobs was still at the helm. One thing is for sure; Apple don't make any moves without a forward facing strategy behind it. What seems defensive now, is most likely playing out over a longer timeframe than we can see.

Secondly the crux of this essay assumes that everything Jobs did was positively received. This is simply not the case. During his tenure at Apple Jobs undoubtedly launched some huge products, but the reception was not always warm. Following the iPhone launch journalists and industry observers lined up to point out the limited colours, the restricted networks and high prices. Equally the iPad was derided for its "awkward" size and social value, with many pundits calling it 'a failed attempt to recapture former brand glory'. Assuming it would have been better if Jobs had launched the same products is just revisionist history at its most destructive.

Lastly the idea of this essay turns Steve Jobs in to a fictional character. An icon maybe. But not something for the public to re-animate and fill with their own words. Imagining how Steve Jobs would think, speak an act, then dressing that up as a real event has seriously dark undertones and shows a huge lack of respect to his family, friends and colleagues.

Overall I would say that this essay does far more harm than good and is not contributing our industry in a way I'm at all comfortable with.