krpalmer: (smeat)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I was at an ordinary meeting of the local Apple user's group when the group leader stood up and announced that the death of Steve Jobs had just been reported online. Everyone fell silent for a moment, but then conversation picked up again. There were certainly things to think about, though, and a day later I'm getting around to putting them down.

My family started using an Apple computer at home at the end of 1992; my father had been able to get work to buy him a Macintosh SE/30 a few years before, and I was becoming familiar with the Macintosh interface at school, but we'd stuck with our Tandy/Radio Shack Color Computer 3 to what seemed the bitter end. While I'd used programs on it programmed to imitate MacWrite and MacPaint, moving up to an LC II with a sharp, colourful screen and an actual hard drive was quite a jump. At the time, thoughts about Steve Jobs seemed to amount to that he'd played a role in the creation of the very first Macintosh, but that system had had to be improved after he'd left under duress the company he'd founded to not quite as much success at NeXT. It was sort of a surprise some years later when Apple, struggling against the perception that Windows 95 was basically the same thing and the company would keep losing money every quarter until the bitter end, bought NeXT to get a new operating system it couldn't develop in-house. Before long, Steve Jobs was in charge of the company, and while his first decisions were controversial enough at the time things were starting to become a bit different than just "faster boxes" before long.

Bit by bit, the perception that there was a new narrative in the computer industry other than "everyone except Bill Gates made obvious mistakes" seemed to develop, but there were always those wondering how much Apple's compounding successes were just a matter of Steve Jobs's one-man show. When health issues for him started cropping up, that caused concern; when he said he was stepping down, the retrospectives rolled in. Even so, I suppose I, and a lot of other people, hoped he'd be able to enjoy his retirement and accomplish new things in it. Where things will go from here, I don't know. Still, this does still seem different in its own way from the beginning of the first "Apple without Steve" era. To me, even after all the ambiguous comments about how Steve Jobs wasn't always a nice guy and the philosophical disagreements about "tweakability" and "lowest possible price," the accomplishment does seem something.

Date: 2011-10-07 05:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazypadawan.livejournal.com
That's the big question; whether Apple stay ahead of the curve without a cult figure/CEO. Amazon's Kindle is a fair rival to the iPad while Android is a serious competitor to the iPhone. Let's hope enough of Jobs's DNA so to speak is ingrained in the corporate culture to keep the party going. Disney after all survived Walt Disney's death.

Date: 2011-10-07 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krpalmer.livejournal.com
Comments about Apple "needing" a cult figure CEO do sort of make me wonder if there are occasional assumptions the competition just needs to show up. Still, I can see problems in just shrugging the question off. As far as "Disney after Walt" goes, though, at times I've heard comments about how the studio and company's shine faded bit by bit through the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s until Michael Eisner came in as the new hero, to ultimately be supplanted in turn... (I've also heard, though, that Walt Disney wound up most interested in theme parks; whether that had something to do with it I don't know.)

Date: 2011-10-08 01:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazypadawan.livejournal.com
Yeah. Disney Animation was already going downhill at the time Walt Disney died. I think the only notable animated films to come out of that era were "Robin Hood" and "The Aristocats." Then it was tough times until "The Little Mermaid" in 1989. Eisner created "adult" brands for Disney more than anything else, though the revival of Disney Animation and bringing in Pixar came late in his reign.

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