Sunday, September 4, 2011

One small step for Jobs; One giant slip for Apple

There are very few people breathing out there whom I genuinely admire. Steve Jobs is definitely one of them. Not because he has more moolah than the U.S. Treasury itself. Or because he founded and guided the most valuable company on the planet. I look up to him because of the failures and daunting obstacles he faced and yet managed to ratchet through them. Needless to disclaim, he is not a perfect human being. No one is. But whenever I think of Apple, I see a thinner-than-before monkish guy in turtlenecks and jeans with a childlike enthusiasm to showcase the best of technology. And boy he does it so well!
Few years back, I read he used to walk 7 miles every Sunday night to ISKCON temple during his humble days to have a free-of-cost proper meal. I found the Indian tangent there intriguing but that’s not the point. The detail to gawk on here is his truly modest background. His father was a Syrian Muslim so basically he’s a Syrian-American though his mother was a white American. Since they were unmarried at the time of his birth, both kind of disowned him and put him up for adoption. His biological parents then had a daughter who is a famous novelist now. The surname Jobs comes from his foster parents. 

For any adopted child, the sense of rejection is always lingering in the back of their mind. I wonder how it must be for a person to grow up and then later learn who their actual parents are. And such corny stuff! As far as I know, he hasn’t reconciled with his biological parents/family yet. Maybe that’s how it will be for the rest of his life. 

Now, talking of Apple, funny things happened here, too. He hired a new CEO named Sculley who used to work for Pepsi-Cola in ’83 and as luck (bad luck, actually) would have it, Jobs had to leave the very company he built in ‘85. All thanks to the mutiny led by Sculley. Here, again, the idea of rejection by your own people returns to haunt him. But he’s not the kind to slip into a maudlin-filled cocoon. He sees this as an opportunity to check out new avenues. 

Animation seemed like a pretty new and daring venture. And that’s when Pixar took flight. He spent the next 11 years, amongst other things, on nourishing Pixar into becoming what it is today – the most profitable animal studio in the business – which he eventually sold to Walt Disney in ’06 making him its largest individual shareholder. Even Walt Disney would have been proud of him!

Meanwhile, Apple realized it can’t do without Jobs’ chutzpah so they invited him back and he rejoined the board in ’96. It’s been a helluva ride for all Apple-worshippers since then! His phenomenal vision with a mantra of keeping tech as simple as possible clicked with the masses. 

Beauty lies in the ‘i’ of Apple. 

Cute little gadgets like iPod, iPhone with countless apps and heavier products in the form of iMac, iBook and ilk captured market’s imagination. And still do. Only multiple times more. iPad2 was the latest offering from their storehouse. All in all, innovation has been a key word in the way Apple thinks and works. And Steve Jobs plays first hand role in every execution. In fact, an anecdote about him advising his employees from the hospital bed while he was admitted for liver transplant is legendary.

He was declared the CEO of the noughties for all the good reason. But he has detractors too who criticize him for his clandestine design practice and ego! At least Apple is not facing plagiarism lawsuits like some top-shot tech companies are. I’m not defending it or anything. Just saying that their way of functioning works for both ends – assembly producers as well as end consumers. 

Coming back to Steve Jobs, he resigned from his CEO position the very week I offered my resignation from transcription. Like they (don’t) say, great minds resign alike! He’ll be serving as Chairman though but his duties will be severely clipped due to the prostrate cancer he’s suffering from. The very news of his resignation sent the share market into a tizzy. But then it’s Apple and they hardly do anything wrong. He must have it all planned out. At least he always seems to.

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