The passing away of Steve Jobs has left a void for me, personally.I salute his love for making products with customers in mind, for taking technology out of its silo, for making it clear that tech is no longer for the privileged few, for being stubborn, rigorous and light-hearted all at once.
I looked back at his Stanford’s commencement speech in 2007 and remembered where he got his thirst for improving our lives through innovation. Having been brought up in a middle-class household (the story of his adoption is incredible), he had a strong sense of survival and the unwavering willingness to reach for a dream.I’m taking a short-cut here but I’m convinced that his street-savviness was key.Improving the world is how he sums it up.
I was not an Apple fan back in the 80’s.I had my first computer in 1983 with a DOS interface and that’s where my tech knowledge ended.I remember one of my summer jobs working with designers who were sworn to Apple where I would pick fights with the mouse.Lap tops were not common currency at the time. Then, I went on to other things and banned Apple from my life. In the late 90’s, I began seeing macbooks everywhere I went, airports, cafés and I remember thinking that the users didn’t “look” like mac users, me and my misconceptions.
Technology For the Average User
Working with R&D teams on web projects in Europe, my daily mission consisted in ensuring that the customer voice was heard and that it translated well into the products or services. In other words, I challenged and challenged: “is this feature in line with what customers expect/want/need?” “do you think the customer will want to fill in 8 forms in order to register?”, etc.. Some days were more difficult than others.Some wanted to develop the feature because it was so innovative technologically even if it did not make sense from the customer viewpoint at that given moment.How many times did I hear “It’s not made for the average user” or “the customer will eventually learn and grow to love it”? Progressively, we began engaging the customer into the development phase and that did wonders. Developers realized one important thing:customers and they do not always agree on what makes a product great.
Then came the iPhone. A moment in history. A proof of concept that simplicity, performance and innovation can come together to make a perfect product. I remember thinking : “hey, he [Steve] put himself in customer’s shoes, heck in my mother’s!”. His thinking was intuitive and that was missing in IT. As VCs and start-uppers were trying to find the next best thing, he was walking in my mother’s shoes.
Thank you Steve for making this possible and for crushing the belief that technology is made for technologists, and that technology made simple is absurd. Thank you for the mac-pc ads, thank you for that talk with B Gates, thank you for sometimes throwing a tantrum in front of inconsistency. I’m hoping the next generations will keep that drive, that your successor will do you proud. IMU.