It’s a sad day for technophiles, the world over. After months of speculation about his failing health and newly added belt notches, Steve Jobs finally saw the spinning rainbow wheel and went into permanent shutdown. As with every other major Apple announcement, his timing was impeccable, clinging to life long enough for the iPhone 4S announcement to be made before logging off.
Within a couple of hours of his death, the Facebook news feed was a mess of Apple logos and condolences to a man none of my friends had ever met. Several of the messages pointed out how Jobs had transformed their lives in the last 20 years. Others even speculated how different their careers might have been were it not for the various innovations ushered in under Jobs’ benevolent rule.
Countless books have been written, attempting to unwrap the enigmatic appeal of the Apple brand. Not least the forthcoming Jobs biography which, according to reports, will apparently feature the last weeks of his life. In technology circles, that’s called ‘planned obsolescence’.
No doubt the designs are exceptional, the brand single-minded, and the pricing structure clear (if a little top heavy). But the real reason so many people have bought into the brand, is because Jobs understood the difference between a user and a customer. He made every touchpoint, from the retail environment to the iPhone calendar, a pleasurable experience. Too many brands seem to build a product, then figure out how to sell it. Jobs focused on making the best possible product, then letting it sell itself. And it did.
Critics scoff, and tell us to get a life. But only because they haven’t drunk the Appletini flavoured Kool-Aid.
Most offices have at least one iVangelist. If you work in marketing, as I do, you’re probably surrounded by them. A PC in a creative department is about as welcome as Sarah Palin at a Mensa coffee morning. But it’s not just the software and functionality either – that little apple on the laptop is a badge of honour for any creative. We take our machines into meetings so clients instantly know which end of the table the ideas will be coming from.
Of course, we can all take brand love a step too far. Apple cornered the market in brand addiction, inspiring legions of fans to turn out in the middle of the night ahead of launch day for every new product release, irrespective of how minimal the cosmetic changes may be. People who knew the power of the new. Of course, they were also the ones who made apologies for a company that released a new phone with an antenna that didn’t work if you held it in your hand: “Yeah, no, it’s fine, I mean I don’t really use it as a phone anyway…”
Critics scoff, and tell us to get a life. But only because they haven’t drunk the Appletini flavoured Kool-Aid. And that’s the thing about Steve Jobs. He doesn’t just leave behind a legacy of intuitive, beautifully designed gadgetry. He leaves behind a movement of loyal followers who will mourn his passing as if he was a member of their extended family. Steve, you made a cult out of all of us. Damn you autocorrect…
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