Apple, Steve Jobs, and Creativity

Well at this point, I'm a little late to the "blog about Steve Jobs resigning" party.  Nevertheless, I had a few comments I wanted to share on the matter.  Unless you live in a cave, under a rock, or on Mars surely by now you've heard the news that Steve Jobs has officially stepped down as Apple CEO to be replaced by Tim Cook.  Some of you Apple fan boys may be anxious about what this holds for the future of Apple products, some of you Google/Microsoft fanboys may be pretty happy, and some of you probably frankly don't care (unless you're playing bar trivia). Whether you love Apple products or hate them, one fact cannot be ignored: Steve Jobs has been instrumental in revolutionizing the world of digital music, the smartphone, and the world of mobile computing (iPad anyone?).  A recent tally suggests that Steve has his name on 313 patents.  Yes. 313.  It doesn't take a statistician to tell you that anyone with that many patents is clearly interested in innovation which brings me to my next point.

Steve Jobs was also relatively famous for replying to random emails.  Usually they were relatively terse replies to customer inquiries about new products or new product features, one email exchange back in 2010 grabbed my attention.  A drunk Gawker media staffer decided to email Steve over an iPad ad he had recently seen and a heated debate ensued (source emails here).  Steve got in the last jab, where he asked "Do you create anything, or criticize others work and belittle their motivations?".

Love him or hate him, you have to have respect for someone who has the courage to bring their vision to the marketplace and then vigorously defend it.  Not only that, but he brings up a great point.  It's far easier to be cynical than to have a vision, to innovate, and then have the balls to defend your vision.  As a PhD student, I see this all the time in the world of academia.  Frankly, I think its only because it is easier to be cynical than to have the guts to follow your visions.  The world would be  a better place if more people set out to create something rather than criticize and "belittle" the work of others.

While I do believe the world would be a better place with more people like Steve Jobs (or Jim Jannard, Elon Musk, etc....anyone who sets out to push the limits of what we perceive is possible), I'm not saying that everyone should aspire to be him.  In todays world, on an innovation level, comparing yourself to Steve Jobs would be a little like Homer comparing himself to Einstein in the Simpsons.  I'm too lazy to find the quote, but Steve once said something along the lines of he wanted to make a ding in the universe.  Well, I certainly think he did by todays standards.  If anyone out there is listening, go out and create....try to make a "ding" in something.  You not only might surprise yourself, you'll never know how big that "ding" may be until you try.

[As a disclaimer, I certainly am an Apple fan....I've got three different macs I use on a daily basis (currently), I've gone through a million ipods, I've been an iphone user since week 1, and I'm a big fan of my ipad.  I might as well sign my paycheck over to Apple every couple of months.  That being said, I don't particularly see myself a fanboy, I'm just a big fan of their design and their products work well for my needs.  I don't feel that has any bearing on what I just wrote though]