There have been many eulogies, this is not mine.
I’d only be repeating others if I wrote a huge piece lamenting his passing and how it affects me. Suffice to say, it’s incredibly sad when any family man is taken at 56, particularly one who was also so incredibly talented and who nurtured the tools I use every day into existence.
What is more interesting to me is the scale of grief and that, for many, the death of a stranger has affected them more than they though it would.
Initially I thought it was merely the deification of another ‘celebrity’ but I was wrong. Grief is a state of bewilderment at loss and people felt a huge connection to the man through his work. This goes double for professionals in the world of technology, there’s also a connection to the message that is implicitly and explicitly contained in his life’s work.
His focus was always on technology for people and this is what I think drives the sadness. The first time you used an iPhone you wondered how someone knew exactly what you wanted. And Steve was the guiding force behind that feeling.
Steve’s public persona was a mixture of the Wizard of Oz and Santa Claus, appearing only rarely, but every time impish and genuinely excited about the things he had made, for you.
He made you, yes you personally, this amazing tool you use everyday; to take photos of your kids, to speak to your friends, to write, to read, to watch your favorite movies, to find out stuff you want to know.
This is why no other company would have spent so much time on the iPhone 4S camera optics. Steve knew and thus Apple know that technology is an enabler for human experience, not an entry in a specifications table.
This is where a reflexive Apple-hating or ‘cult’ metaphor doesn’t do justice to the feeling people have when they use an Apple device to do something that makes them feel amazing. It’s not brainwashing. The products are not the expression of you, it’s what you can do with them. It’s not the new shininess that excites, its the promise of new creativity still to come.
The things that Steve brought to the world have made people’s lives better in a million tiny ways. To create and to capture our too short lives. This is his greatest gift.
And now he’s gone and we worry that no-one will bring us such amazing things with which we can express & entertain ourselves. And that is why we’re sad.
This advert is now incredibly poignant and worth 30 seconds of your time: The Crazy Ones.