When Steve Jobs died, many Americans felt they lost someone they knew.
David Pogue really did know him.
Last week Pogue — the Westporter who is arguably the most influential tech journalist in the world — honored Jobs’ memory on CBS Sunday Morning.
As usual, Pogue nailed it. You can read his comments below — including the intriguing tidbit that Jobs occasionally called him at his home near Cross Highway, to rip (or praise) something Pogue had written or recorded.
As a journalist myself — and an Apple fanboy — that makes me feel even more connected to Steve Jobs than I was.
And sorrier for his passing.
This week, Steve Jobs passed away. And we lost four of this country’s greatest minds.
That’s not a joke. Steve Jobs was one of the greatest designers to come along in decades—and one of the greatest marketers, and businessmen, and visionaries. All of those things. In one person. One in a million.
As a designer, he was obsessed with purity, simplicity, perfection. Obsessed in a way that no other CEO has ever been. He dictated the color of the power cords, the placement of the buttons, the iPod colors. Did you ever notice that every single Apple product has gracefully curved corners? The screens, the laptops, the phones, the tablets, even the windows. That’s all Steve.
Now, beautiful components cost more. There’s never been a $400 Mac. But Steve Jobs didn’t care. Beauty was more important than price.
Then there was Steve Jobs the marketer. This guy was hypnotic. People used to call it his “reality distortion field”—how when you were in his presence, everything he said seemed persuasive. You saw his vision. You wanted what he wanted.
Who else could have convinced the record companies to let us download individual songs for $1 each? Download TV shows for 2 bucks? That’s the reality distortion field at work.
He’d even try to sway the media. He’d call me at home to rant about something I’d written that he disagreed with—that I got “completely wrong”—or, sometimes, to praise me for seeing the big picture. A CEO calling a reporter at home to yell at him? Sorry, that’s really not done.
And then there’s Steve Jobs, the businessman. The guy who made Apple the world’s most valuable company, tied with Exxon Mobil.
Nobody would have bet on Steve Jobs to be that guy. Never finished college, never went to business school. Wasn’t exactly known for being warm and fuzzy.
And he violated every shred of conventional management wisdom. You don’t micromanage. You don’t price your product at twice the going rate.
And you don’t keep taking out features! He took away our floppy drives, our dial-up modems, our DVD drives, our removable laptop batteries. He wouldn’t put Flash on our iPhones and iPads, software you need to watch videos on the Web. All because he sees these as dead or imperfect technologies.
But the greatest loss is Steve Jobs, the visionary. This guy never conducted focus groups—he knew what we wanted before we did. He could look at some brand-new, clunky technology—like the mouse, or the CD-ROM, or WiFi—and immediately get what it could become with some polish and a little Apple-ilification.
These days, every electronics company tries to imitate Apple’s products. There are enough iPhone and iPad clones to pave the earth six times over.
But now that Steve’s gone, I’d like to suggest a different tack. Instead of trying to copy Apple, why don’t we strive to emulate what made Steve Jobs unique? See the potential in raw new ideas. Keep questioning why do things the old way. Build beauty into everything we do.
I know, I know—that’s just not done. But if Steve Jobs the designer, the marketer, the businessman, and the visionary showed us anything, it’s that you can make beautiful, elegant, simple things—and still make billions in the process.
The world will miss you, Steve. In a thousand different ways.
(To watch David Pogue’s CBS tribute to Steve Jobs, click here.)