Forget the Bonds or Bournes – they are fictional. If anyone has redefined cool over the last decade – he is the 55 years old technology magnate at Apple Inc – Steve Jobs.
I am not going to dwell on his success or strategy as there are far more intelligent and excellent posts on those topics by John Gruber and Steve Cheney. The reason behind this invigorated tribute right now is what I have seen of him at D8 conference and latest WWDC for launching iPhone4. Read his answers at D8 and then read those from Ballmer. Read his previous thoughts on Flash and then read Adobe’s response. One thing that immediately strikes is while most corporate executives excel at throwing blanket statements and saying nothing, Job’s statements reflect thoughts and opinions – even if biased. I can see a face behind those statements while I see wooden masks when I read Mr. Narayen or Ballmer.
The stance taken by Steve Jobs in restricting iPhone apps to native APIs, although merited from the fact that Apple is at the peak and can take any liberty, demonstrates Jobs’ confidence and very likely, a long term strategy in building a strong vertical. I have not seen even a handful executives risking such confidence in public. What started as a rumored attempt on blocking Adobe fueled app developers’ mellowed outrage. Instead of giving in to the pressure, Jobs put out a post that even a non technical person could read and understand and brainwashed everyone who was questioning his stance. Poor Adobe, never has been a company as high profiled been so ridiculed and yet so helpless in responding. Their official response sucked (typical corporate jargon with no solid points) and since then, Microsoft and Google have come out promoting HTML5, a symbolic move of siding with Apple on Flash issue. It was in their own interest but worked out great for Jobs. Did Jobs see it that far? I don’t know but he stuck to his opinions and fought it all the way – and that is what is admirable about it. This is the reason I loved when Google pulled out of China. If Eric Schmidt had written a rebellious post on the topic, he could have earned some brownie points too. Compare it with Zuckerberg’s succumbing to Facebook’s privacy issues and eventual immature handling at D8. He is also sitting on a gigantic monopoly but sweats when stating his opinion in public. Well, he is just 26. Fine. But I hope he sticks to his beliefs for no one will dare question him if he knows what he is doing. He said one good thing, I hope he believes in it -“We continue to do what we think are the right changes, even if they are controversial, and it’s what we think people are counting on us to do as the leaders in the space”.
The fact is today’s Internet is an open convenient medium and it is upto you how to use it. It provides these big shots a terrific medium to reach out to people and build a custom brand. If they don’t, it is their loss. Matt Mireles nailed it in his post and I completely agree. No advertisement can do better marketing for a company than what Steve Jobs has done for Apple just by projecting himself. And, its not empty charisma – we have Barack Obama for that. It is charisma with merits and Steve Jobs truly is an idol.