Tuesday, 3 June, 2008

Why is Jobs the Messiah?

What's common between William Blackstone, Henry W. Seely, Steve Jobs and the nameless soul who invented cake mix?

They all came up with things that made machines easier to handle, and tedious tasks easier. Blackstone invented the domestic washing machine as a birthday gift for his wife; Sheely came up with the electric iron; the inventor of the cake mix did away with the code (“Look darling, no recipes!”) and Steve Jobs... we all know what he did (Incidentally, what did he do?)

But why is Steve Jobs the second coming of the Saviour, while other inventors rot in relative obscurity?

Take your pick:
1.Steve Jobs is Christ with a haircut.

2.When he was in India as a hippie, he saw Mughal-e-Azam. Dilip Kumar showed him how you could turn a complete loser into an idol by just saying the right things, that too in a melodrama that owes Parsi Theatre than Moghul history. Salim (Jahangir) gets thrashed by his daddy, rescued by his mamu, and can't even bed with the girl, though he's legally entitled to. (In real life, he was henpecked husband and a worse father than Jon Vogit.) Yet he's the hero. Presentation matters. That's the key to the stockmarket stardom. Lesson learnt, Steve heads home and mesmerises Yankees thereafter.

(I hasten to add that Mughal-e-Azam is one of my favourite films. I find absolutely nothing wrong in enjoying melodrama. We are a melodramatic people. So what?)

3.The 9-to-5 man is eternally grateful to Steve for simplifying the most complicated thing he ever had to learn for doing his job. Till the computer came along, all he used in office was pen and paper. The typist typed; the secretary filed; the telephone operator handled called; while he dictated, signed and pontificated. There other threats of complexity in his life, the camera and the car, had long been simplified (made 'user-friendly') to the degree his wife could use both! The computer made him look bad; GUI made him look good again.

4.Apple hit the ad world, and by extension the brand-building universe. He became a case study. Just as the loyalty programme industry, which has only three case studies – (a) a Tesco case study (b) another Tesco case study and (c) yet another Tesco case study – brand gurus believe in recycling. Most studied in Calcutta University, which is why their class notes haven't been updated in the last three decades (1984 was in 1984.). If it ain't broke, why fix it?
Also, while unearthing deep philosophical links between the Apple, the iPod and the iPhone, they completely overlook the fact that almost all successful home appliance, electronic and electrical appliances companies have multiple products, without the advantage of philosophy.

Blasphemous? Guilty as charged. Absurd? I'm not so sure.

No comments: