I’ll be honest, Steve Jobs’ criticism of Flash and the subsequent banning of apps built using Adobe’s Packager for iPhone enraged me and for quite some time turned me away from Apple products. Such was his reputation and authority that his words were able to polarise even those within the Flash community, with some jumping ship the moment he declared the technology as good as dead. In fact, he did more to diminish Flash’s presence as a web technology than HTML5 ever could on its own!
I say this only to highlight the respect he’d earned and rightfully so. When Steve Jobs spoke, people listened. While others copied, Steve Jobs innovated. The iPhone was a paradigm shift and it couldn’t have happened without him. He had that rare ability of being able to take the complex and make it simple, so that almost anyone could understand and use it.
Even after several years of playing catch-up, it’s clear that the rest of the industry still doesn’t really get it. Manufacturers churn out device after device, desperately trying to recreate Apple’s success story. These devices might very well resemble iPhones and iPads. They may even have superior technical specifications. But rarely do they ever come close. Steve Jobs understood that it wasn’t just about the hardware, but the user experience. That was where the real magic happened.
So what now for Apple? Will they continue to grow and innovate or will they slide back into the abyss that Jobs saved them from? It’s hard to tell what the long term holds for them, but in the short term I think Steve Jobs ensured that the right people were in place to continue his vision. And if you’re in any doubt about that vision just think back to the clunky handsets we were all using before the iPhone arrived. Without Steve Jobs kick-starting the industry, we’d probably all still be obliviously struggling with them right now, unaware that a brighter, better, and more entertaining future was a possibility.