I have never been to an Apple event. I have never met an Apple executive. I have never even been to San Francisco, much less Cupertino.
With all of that said, it should be obvious that I never knew Steve Jobs, Apple’s former CEO whose death was a year ago today. I covered (and continue to cover) his most famous company every day, and I do continue to be fascinated by Apple as a whole, but I never knew the man. And yet, I miss him. The industry misses him.
I don’t miss him for the goofy reasons found in Business Insider articles lamenting Apple’s loss of Jobs, and therefore the company’s ability to innovate. I don’t miss him like I would a relative, or even a close friend. I never knew the man; why would I miss him in that way?
But I miss him, all the same – I miss him because he was the x factor. He, and his teams of incredibly talented people, was always the variable, the unpredictable party that often acted as a catalyst for insanely great products. My first experience with Apple’s products wasn’t the original Mac. It wasn’t the iPod. It was the iPhone – during my search for the perfect PDA (cough Palm T|X cough), the iPhone was announced. My first experience with Apple presented the Cupertino company as a true innovator; an entity with a vision. This vision, I realized, was the property of Steve Jobs.
So in a way, I miss the embodiment of this vision. This vision went beyond silicon and pixels: it was the idea that life could be improved through applied human invention.
Steve Jobs has been called the Edison of our time. That’s likely to be accurate in many ways, but I also believe that Jobs rose to a power of position not because of his technical ability, as Edison did, but by his strong opinions of the computing industry in general. Luckily, there are others who have similar ideals – and many are in as powerful as a position as Jobs was. However, none possess the unique combination of showmanship, chutzpah, or persistence that Jobs demonstrated time and time again.
Everyone dies. Jobs knew this. Regardless, Jobs will continue to be missed. Apple will continue to be strong, but Jobs will be missed. Gone are the days when a single crazy man will take the stage and tell us, as if by magic, exactly where computing will next go, and then unveil a product that takes us there in style.