It was only a couple of days ago that I fell asleep during an Apple keynote, the first one without Steve Jobs on stage. This morning, my sleepy eyes were suddenly wide open when news about Steve Jobs’ death broke. I wonder if I would feel this sad if I was not an avid Apple user?
I am a latecomer to Apple products, but early enough in Indonesia that someone sneered at me when I first bought my MacBook in 2006. I was at the iBox store in Ratu Plaza looking at the beautiful white MacBooks that had just arrived in Jakarta, when another customer came into the store to pick up his PowerBook from service. He saw me asking the staff which MacBook would suit me best. He then asked me,
“Are you a graphic designer?”
“Do you work in advertising?”
“Um, no, I’m just a student.”
“What do you study?”
“Oh. Sociology. Yet you want to buy a MacBook?”
At that time, we could say that Apple was a company whose products were mostly used by web and graphic designers to create visual art. This goes back to when design software, such as Photoshop and PageMaker, was only available for Apple’s operating system. Although iPod fever spread around the world beginning in 2001, the rest of Apple products did not automatically follow its massive success. In Jakarta, it was once seen as strange for a social science student, who spent her time writing papers and barely doing any drawing or designing, to use Mac instead of Windows.
Today, people no longer simply buy Apple products because “you can use it for graphic design,” but because they are seen as a cool and simple to use products. Haters can say we are all trend victims, but facts say that Apple is the most valued company in the world.
The idea of mourning the loss of someone we don’t know may seem strange, but Steve Jobs influenced the world not only through his companies, but also his visions. Tech consumers will always see Steve Jobs as a visionary figure, and entrepreneurs can learn from his hard work and realize that his success did not happen over night.
For consumers, and especially everyone in the Apple fan-dom, the closest they could get to Steve Jobs was during Apple keynote events, from Macworld conferences to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple keynotes usually happen in the morning, US time, but Indonesian Apple fans never find it difficult to stay awake to watch the keynote. It’s not even “watching,” because there is no live streaming. We simply follow live blogs from notable writers who were lucky enough to be in the same room with Steve Jobs.
One of the most memorable Apple keynotes for me was when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007. Jobs talked about creating a new user interface for phones, criticizing qwerty keyboards on Motto Q, BlackBerry, Palm Treo and Nokia N62, and replacing keyboard buttons with the sleek touch screen. This was how he educated people about what makes a great product, and why you should pay for them. The simplicity of Apple’s operating system and gadgets forced the world to pay for design, and eventually, content.
When Apple launched the iPad in 2010, it became the new trendy gadget that everyone wanted. In the United States, people camped outside of Apple stores to become the first to buy and use it. In Indonesia, however, buying Apple products means going to unofficial resellers and paying higher prices. To be an early iPad user in Indonesia cost people almost twice as much, but from the president to trendy teenagers, people bought it and loved it.
To look back at Steve Jobs’ life is to look at the life of an adopted kid, who did not finish college, who started a company from his garage, and later, was kicked out of the company he built. Entrepreneurs will remember Steve Jobs as the man with a great comeback. When Steve Jobs left Apple Computer after a power struggle, he built NeXT, a software company, that was later acquired for $430 million by Apple Computer. Jobs then returned to Apple.
In 2003, Steve Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but during this difficult time, he turned Apple into the valuable company it is today, with revolutionary products such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
Steve Jobs will also be remembered by children for buying Pixar, the animation studio that brought us “Toy Story,” “Monsters Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.”
His passing is not only a loss to those who buy his products, but also “to the misfits, the rebels and the trouble makers,” for whom he had a message: “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs has shown us that a hero does not always come out of war. A hero can be someone who changes how we communicate. Rest in peace, Steve. And thank you.