Posts Tagged ‘apple’
I awakened today to some disturbing news on the consumer packaged goods front: Hostess, longtime maker of Ding Dongs, Twinkies, and Wonder Bread — all three of which provided me sustenance through much of my mispent youth — is going out of business.
In a Wall Street Journal
story earlier today, it was reported that the “maker of iconic treats such as Twinkies” and other products is shuttering its plants and will “seek to liquidate the 82-year-old business.”
The story goes on to report that a work stoppage that began on November 9th affected about two-thirds of Hostess’s 36 plants, and made it “impossible” for the Irving, Texas company to continue producing baked goods.
It’s hard to imagine a world without Twinkies. Or Ding Dongs, for that matter. What are we Texans going to fry at the Texas State Fair, if not Twinkies???
Of course, what woke me up today was the endless barrage of helicopters. The F1 Grand Prix race weekend has arrived in Austin, and some 200,000 race fans are expected to make a pit stop here to check out the race.
This is the first Grand Prix to be held in the U.S. in some five years, and though an F1 may not seem very Austinish, I say bring it on.
It’s expected to have an economic impact of some $220 million, and hey, it helped bring Aerosmith and Cheap Trick to town for a concert tonight, so it can’t be all bad!
I just hope folks using the Apple Maps apps are able to find their way out to the track, because Google’s new Map App for Apple devices is still in test mode.
I never thought I’d write that we may be finding ourselves not in a great browser battle, but rather, the Great Mobile Map Wars of 2012.
Kind of has a nice ring to it, eh?
Let’s reflect on the tick tock: Apple released the new iOS 6, in which it replaced the Google Maps app that was preinstalled with its own mapping software.
People complained they couldn’t get where they were going with the new Apple map app. Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was sorry, then fired his software lead, Scott Forstall, after he refused to say he was sorry.
And now we wait.
Both for the new Google map app (which is said to have turn by turn directions), and the improved Apple map app.
Me, I think I’ll stop by the truck stop on the way out to the F1 track this weekend and just pick myself up an atlas.
I just hope it will provide good enough directions to lead me to the world’s last Twinkie.
You won’t find me waiting in line today at the Apple store for an iPad mini.
I know many of my friends and colleagues expected I would be there, if not today waiting in line, then shortly thereafter.
Boy, do I have a surprise for them.
I’m not going to buy an iPad mini.
I bought the 5th gen iPod touch instead.
That might seem like crazy talk coming from me, but after lugging electronic devices on my back and around the globe for a number of years, I’ve concluded smaller is better, at least for me.
I had the first gen iPod touch, probably my first completely “portable” mini-computer, and I loved it so.
I tried to revive it recently, and of course it seems dog slow now, and a number of the apps couldn’t be upgraded.
But when I thought about those things I really used that device for most — reading, email/calendaring on the road, watching news/videos, playing games — the iPod touch 5th gen just seemed like a much more suitable device for me.
There are some key differences between it and the iPad mini. First, the mini is bigger (7.9 inches), no doubt. So if screen size is key to you, then you certainly have to take that into account.
Remember, for me, smaller was better.
Second, the touch has the same processor as the mini, the A5, and having tested it out in the store, it was plenty fast for the things I wanted to do.
Third, though the screen is smaller on the touch, it IS a retina display, which has to be the most gorgeous screen you’ve ever seen. So, even though smaller is better for me, it’s also crisper in terms of what’s presented on the screen.
And, it fits easily in a coat pocket, back pocket, pretty much anywhere.
And because it supports Bluetooth 4.0, I can easily attach a foldable or remote Bluetooth keyboard and set to work on some serious business right there on the airplane tray without the hassle of someone slamming into it with their seat back, which has happened to me with laptops and a first gen iPad more times than I care to count.
As far as set up is concerned, now that I’m using iCloud, it’s about as simple as you can get. After an initial set up, I synched up with my iCloud account and most all my apps moved over no problemo. I did have to re-enter many of the account IDs/passwords for things like newspaper subscriptions, etc., but if that’s all the trouble I was going to have, no worries.
As for the 5th gen touch, I’ll just say its ridiculously light (so much so I’m afraid I might break the thing, and I’ll be looking for a solid hardshell case like an Otter just in case!), the display is gorgeous (although I haven’t yet played any games), and faster than greased lightning. The battery life is expected to be some 7-8 hours running video, so I have no worries about it fulilling my needs while traveling (maybe save for LONG international flights).
I explain all this because the best device is the one most suited to YOUR individual use case.
Think long and hard about what you want and need to do with the thing, then go survey the market and find the right device.
The latest and greatest new new thing like the iPad mini is always fun, but you want to make sure it fits the bill before you hand over any of your own to pay for the thing.
BLOGGER UPDATE: File this one under the “As If Anyone Will Really Notice” Category, Jimmy Kimmel on Apple’s New, New Thing (Thx, Hans!)
It’s a big day in tech, all the way around.
We’ll continue our mission to “Think Big” here in Las Vegas at the IBM Information On Demand 2012 event.
We’ll also get a glimpse into how big the mobile market is becoming as Facebook announces its earnings after the bell later today.
But of course, one of the biggest stories of the day has to do with the downsizing of one of our favorite tablets, the Apple iPad.
Rumors abound about the new iPad “Mini,” which I very look forward to referring to as my “MiniMePad.”
If you’re using an Apple device (including an AppleTV), you should be able to tune in to watch the announcement live starting at 10 AM PST.
If not, there will be shortage of bloggers out there giving you the blow-by-blow.
Why am I so interested in the Mini iPad?
First, Apple set the bar for tablets with the original iPad, which I still use to this day.
Second, the smaller form factor is raising a lot of questions about price. Can Apple afford to take down the price from $499 to the $200 range, especially when their iPod Touch is still priced at $299 (the last time I looked…I can’t look this morning, as the Apple store is down getting busy for the Mini introduction).
I’d say the question more is, can they afford not to? Like the early browser wars, this is a market AND mindshare battle. iOS and Android are lined up for a full cage death match, and if Apple’s to maintain its market share lead of 69.6% (as of Q2 2012), they’re going to have to compete aggressively on price.
The new Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDs are coming in at under $200, and while I doubt that’s a price Apple can match, they’re going to have to strive to stay somewhat price competitive, figuring the Apple premium could be worth $100 per unit or so.
Third, the original iPad was the starting line of the shift away from desktop-centric technology, and as Microsoft attempts to come into this market with its Surface tablet, a key question emerges: Can Apple continue to entice productivity hounds away from the Microsoft ecosystem, despite the advent of the Surface, and stay price competitive in a burgeoning competitive market?
As for me, you might ask, will I buy one? I’ll never say never. The iPad has become a full-on personal entertainment and productivity workhorse for me, an elegant blended use case of both the personal and the professional.
I watch movies on the thing, I use it for blogging and broadcasting, I play games, I do email, I read books, I hold conference calls. There’s not a lot I can’t do on it.
So, I can easily justify the upgrade, and I’d love to get a faster iPad, but like with the original, I may wait for an initial software upgrade so Apple has the opportunity to work some of the kinks out.
Then again, I may not.
I’ve been watching this whole Apple “Mapgate” discussion from the sidelines with some bemusement.
If you’d have told me a few weeks ago the emerging chatter about the iPhone 5 would come down to a map app’s dysfunction, I would have laughed, but such is the state of our technology polity.
On the one hand, the debate may seem filled with frivolity. On the other hand, it speaks to the seriousness with which users take their smartphones and their apps, particularly when it involves one that could be the very thing that comes between they and their next cup of java at Starbucks…assuming they can still find one!
Whether or not Apple will relent and offer a Google Maps app in the Apple App Store, says a story by Reuters and citing Google chairman Eric Schmidt, will be a decision made by Apple.
Me, I’m still trudging along just fine with my LG “dumb phone,” although I am keeping an open eye towards the looming iPad Mini.
I love my original iPad, but I think it needs one of those “Clean My PC” solutions reoriented for original iPads. It’s become more and more lethargic in terms of performance, and sometimes, when I’m in an application the thing will just reset and take me back to the home screen. Not quite the equivalent of a Microsoft Windows “General Protection Fault” or blue screen of death, but coming close.
Speaking of finding my way, I wanted to remind folks that the IBM InterConnect event is only a short couple of weeks away in Singapore, October 9-11 at the Royal Sentosa Resort.
My airplane tickets have been bought, my hotel booked — now if I could just figure out a way to place myself in a state of somnolence as I board the plane for the longggg journey eastward.
If you’d like to learn more about the InterConnect event, IBM is hosting a Twitter Chat this Thursday, September 27, from 9-10 EST.
If you’ve never attended a Twitter Chat, now’s your chance. Our own social business guru, Sandy Carter, will be moderating the chat, fielding questions and relating details of the coming InterConnect event.
The hashtag for the chat is #IBMInterConnect, so simply log in to your TweetDeck or other Twitter app of choice, enter that hashtag, and be prepared for the discussion this Thursday evening.
If you don’t have a Twitter app, you can also log in to the following URL to follow the action:
A little background: IBM InterConnect 2012 is a new and unique event to provide you with opportunities to meet and collaborate with business and IT leaders in your region.
The IBM InterConnect conference will explore topics and key business imperatives, including unleashing innovations, managing the velocity of change and reinventing relationships and uncovering new markets.
IBM’s Scott Hebner and John Dunderdale provide some background on InterConnect in the video below:
So I followed some of the liveblogging for the Apple announcements earlier today, with the Apple iPhone 5 being the headline announcement.
I hope to later go back and watch the video webcast, as much interested in the theater of it as the details.
Overall, I walked away with the impression that it was a relatively impressive update from the iPhone 4, but I wasn’t convinced it was enough to compel people to upgrade.
I mentioned in a post a while back I’ve gone native, now using a “dumb phone” (an LG), because I had left AT&T, toyed with an Android on Virgin Mobile, before deciding on the LG dumb phone primarily for phone usage.
I still have my iPhone 4, which I use sometime for checking email and calendar, and reading or watching a movie on plane rides, but because I’m not as mobile as I used to be (not traveling as much), I didn’t feel compelled to need a smartphone.
Back to the 5. I didn’t see a compelling reason to upgrade with the new features — the bigger 4″ screen, the thinner form factor, LTE support, the new camera (including the admittedly cool panorama mode).
But just for grins, I clicked on the Apple application that let me checked what it would cost to go ahead and upgrade ahead of my current pre-rebate date (the date for which I could upgrade with the device actually being subsidized by Verizon).
Here’s what I found in the graphic you see here…hold on for the sticker shock:
I couldn’t get into a 5 for less than $649 until December 9, 2013…by that time, I suspect there will be an iPhone 6.
Even jumping back to the 4 would cost me $375!!!
And therein lies my distaste with the current mobile phone economics in these United States.
Hey, if I was traveling all the time and depending on those services the iPhone could offer remotely, I would consider it.
But recognizing I have other devices (the iPhone 4 using wi-fi, an Android tablet AND an iPad), no way, no how.
I suspect many Apple fan boys and girls will pay the pre-rebate price, and more power to them.
But my money would be better invested in a new mini iPad (apparently coming in October) or even the new iPod Touches also announced today.
But if you get an iPhone 5, be sure to give me a demo the next time you see me.
I heard it was the 5th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone, which, first of all, just freaked me out, because how could it have been five years already!
But, once I was over that, I realized I have a record of my thoughts and observations back them in the form of this blog.
So, I went back and weaved together the following based on my observations in and around that year on the topic of the iPhone.
Read at your own peril. Accessories not included.
June 4, 2007 (25 days prior to the iPhone Launch)
Headline: Why I Won’t Be Getting An iPhone
Well, at least not yet, anyhow.
First, as I think I’ve explained in the past, I’ve been burned too many times on early adoption.
The only early adopting I’ll be doing moving forward is for small canine creatures I keep as pets.
Second, I just got my Blackberry Pearl.
It seems to do most everything I need it to do, for now. Everything except allow me to successfully browse the Internets. It used to do that, too, until the IBM internal software installation corrupted the browser.
They tell me I can fix it by wiping the Blackberry hard drive and starting from scratch.
Let me get this straight: I bought a Blackberry so I could check my corporate email and calendar (which I can successfully still do) and to surf the Internet.
But in order to successfully surf the Internet, I have to wipe the Blackberry hard drive and reinstall from scratch, in the process giving up my ability to successfully check my corporate email and calendar? And this is supposed to be productivity enhancement???
Three, the iPhone costs in the neighborhood of $600.
My Blackberry Pearl cost me $99. I can think of another $501 reasons I’ won’t be waiting for a new iPhone to ring.
Four, I don’t like grovelling or begging, nor do I like sleeping overnight on sidewalks outside the Cingular store, not for concert tickets and certainly not for a new cell phone.
When I bought my Pearl, I called ahead, had ‘em charge the Pearl in advance of my getting to the store, and by the time I arrived, simply did a quick run through and check out. I liked the Cingular retail people veddy much.
On June 29th, I will be staying as far away from the Cingular Web site and retail stores as is humanly possible. The core Appleites (pun intended) will be out en masse, they will be single minded of purpose, and they will have great anxiety over whether or not they’ll be one of the lucky ones to win the iPhone lottery.
I will stay as far away from them and their mob as is humanly possible.
That is, unless they are willing to give me a personal tour of their new iPhone, in which case I’ll be happy to oblige their momentary lapse of reason.
June 18, 2007 (11 days prior to the iPhone Launch)
Headline: Eight Hours Of Apple Talk
Me, I’m still trying to recuperate from my U.S Open anxiety, but the rest of the blogosphere is all Apple iPhone talk all the time, apparently now eight hours at a burst.
The latest headline: iPhone is expected to deliver up to eight hours of talk time.
That’s a big deal, at least in terms of expectation setting, because there’s been tremendous criticism about the built-in battery that a user couldn’t replace with an already charged backup.
It also helps if you got yourself a long-winded teenager stuck at the mall…be sure to upgrade that ATT plan!
Me, I hope never to have to abuse my Blackberry Pearl with an 8-hour conversation, but then again, nobody really wants to talk to me, and I can always buy a backup battery, so this isn’t an issue pour moi.
As if Apple and the iPhone wasn’t already sucking up all the oxygen on Planet Earth (what’s left of it), and if you’ve not read or heard enough about the cult of Steve Jobs lately, New York magazine has a great feature by Silicon Valley journalistic hit man John Heilemann entitled “Steve Jobs in a Box.”
“Steve! Are you in there!? Steve??! Do you need help getting out of the box, Steve?!!”
It’s juicy, long format, going-deep-into-Steve’s ego id and psyche kind of stuff technojournalism, complete with Heilemann’s breaking out Jobs’ career into three “acts.”
Could there be a Metropolitan Opera version waiting in the wings, complete with Bill Gates starring as the Devil himself?
Wait a minute, this oughta be a Pixar/Disney film, NC17 edition.
Oh well. You’ll just have to head over to New York mag online for the current installment.
June 25, 2007 (4 days prior to the iPhone Launch — I was on a business trip out in Silicon Valley, and actually visited the Apple campus just a few days prior to the iPhone debut)
Headline: I Want My iPhone
Rumors abound of Apple employees publicly flouting units from the first manufacturing run, and I have no doubt the lines will start forming at the AT&T stores for we plebes sometime today.
You can get your first reality check and low, lowdown on the iPhone around 6 P.M. Pacific Standard Time this evening, which is when Walt Mossberg’s and David Pogue’s first reviews are expected to strike.
Word on the Business2.0 blog street is the early reviews are “generally positive” but that “downloads are sluggish” over AT&T’s current cellular network and that there are “typing difficulties.”
Well, uh, yeah. There’s no friggin’ keyboard on the thing (well, not the keyboard as we typically have known it)!
That’s like saying there are steering difficulties on a Lamborghini with no steering wheel (and on Highway 101, I’m certainly beginning to wonder if a steering wheel is really even necessary).
This is a whole new computing paradigm, people, and, it’s from Apple: You have to will the thing to do what you want.
It’s all about the human mind telepathic connection interface! Don’t you get it??!!
June 29, 2007
Headline: The New Chic: Geeks Waiting In Line
First off, this post is NOT being written while waiting in line at an Apple retail outlet, an AT&T store, or elsewhere.
Second, thank Heavens, I was rescued from out of the heart of Silicon Valley, where iPhone fever has reached new heights (remember when people waited in line for Windows95?), and safely back in Austin just in time for the flooding to recede.
But clearly, I’m in the minority.
Supergeek blogger Robert Scoble is waiting in line with all his other geek friends (see the pics here….wait a minute, doesn’t Scoble qualify as Mr. Supergeek Celebrity to get a free iPhone in advance?).
Kevin Rose and the Diggnation crowd were podcasting in line.
Just in case you wanted to read about or listen or watch what it’s like to wait in line to get an iPhone.
I know I was wondering.
Which makes me wonder something else: Maybe waiting in line for the latest geek gadget is the new chic.
Pulling an old Coleman sleeping bag out of the closet and investing in a solar battery generator to keep the G4 crowd in power, maybe this is the thing, and the iPhone is just part of the overall package, almost a mere afterthought to the status reserved for those who waited.
I wait, therefore I am.
“Dude, what did you do Friday night?” “As if, dude. What do you think I did?? I was waiting in line to get my iPhone. Where the —- were you?!!”
Wait not, want not.
That sense of Burning Man iPhone collegiality is the only thing that explains this phenomenon.
Because here’s the deal: The thing goes on sale online at the very same moment it can be bought in the retail outlets and, guess what? Regardless, it has to be activated online through the iTunes store to get the service up and running.
Until such time, you’ve got a really pretty Apple artifact.
But who’s to argue with reason. I wish them all well and the very best of luck.
Me, I’ll be sitting in my nice air-conditioned condo, doing some work, maybe throwing on a little AppleTV in the background.
On second thought, maybe I’ll go out and join ‘em.
Not to get an iPhone, mind you.
Just to hang out with the geeks where I belong.
December 26, 2007
Headline: Year of the iPhone
Looking back on 2007, there’s but no question in my mind that Apple’s iPhone dominated much of the tech conversation.
I opted for a $99 Blackberry Pearl instead (partially because of its form factor, partially because it’s what allows me access to needed IBM resources like email and calendaring), and it’s done me just fine — especially considering it was about 5X cheaper than the iPhone.
But, the iPhone cultural phenomenon and technology footprint couldn’t be escaped, nor questioned.
I was at the Apple campus in June visiting with a friend, just before the first iPhones went on sell, and I didn’t see a single iPhone unit while on the Apple campus (allegedly only top execs had them prior to the launch), they were so tightly held.
No big surprise, considering Apple’s tight grip and embargo on its launches. But the phenomena that was the pending iPhone couldn’t be constrained.
Months prior to the launch, Google and other search engines were inundated with search inquiries about the iPhone…blogs were abuzz about the product features…podcasts explained its virtues…the mass media mass brainwashed the masses about its planet-saving capabilities.
For weeks after, the halo of the afterlaunch melted into the tech landscape, complete with new tech lore about being the first in line, or waiting in line with one’s Apple brethren, or etc ad nauseum ad infinitum.
When was the last time you bragged about waiting in line?
I succumbed to the hype myself, long enough to go into the store and touch an iPhone firsthand.
It was all I could do to leave the store without buying one.
But then I came back to my senses and started thinking logically about the problems that an iPhone would or would not solve for me personally (what a concept! Purchase a product only because it actually solves a problem!), and the Blackberry Pearl would do just fine.
And it has.
So I wouldn’t be the coolest kid on the cubicle block…so I wouldn’t be able to personally extol the virtues of the new touch screen interface…so I wouldn’t be able to becoming a walking, talking Apple salesperson in my spare time, despite all the constant complaints about the lethargic AT&T Edge network (which never seemed to slow me down much with the more text-oriented Blackberry).
Life would go on.
And it has.
But the milestone it demarcated would be clear.
Because the real phenomena behind the phenomenon for me around the iPhone was not the device itself, but rather the notion that mobile IP-based multimedia computing was finally coming into its own.
After years of the U.S. lagging behind the SMS craze in Europe (which launched well before most Americans knew what a text message was), or the DoCoMo iMode craze in Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s (which was how many Japanese first experienced the Internet), I felt as though the U.S. was getting a clue and catching back up.
If nothing else, the iPhone demonstrated what was becoming possible at the intersection of mobile data and voice, of mobile computing, after years of overpromising and underdelivery.
That a cell phone didn’t just have to be a cell phone, but that it could evolve into a true multimedia personal information manager and portable computing and communications device, using an interface that we mere mortals could understand and learn quickly.
It was the opportunity presented by the possibility of a nuclear intersection between computing, communication, collaboration, personal entertainment, and mobility.
That we could use it to communicate and get directions and do work and listen to music and watch videos and find somebody’s phone number.
No, for my money, the iPhone was only a starting place, the beginning of something much, much bigger to come. A mile marker on the way to a much more promising land.
It was the Star Trek communication device brought down to reality here on earth.
“Beam me up, Steve.”
It was a great start, but it was only that.
So, go ahead, use your index finger to scroll down. It works well enough.
Me, I can’t wait to see where that scrolling finger might take us next.
Welcome to Austin, Texas, where it’s expected to reach a balmy 106 degrees today.
I would retire to the pool and use my newfangled Verizon Jetpack Internet everywhere device to let me do a few emails while sipping virgin Pina Coladas, but I’m afraid my skin might start burning and smoking like some bad horror movie. Yes, it’s going to be THAT hot outside (and it’s only June 26).
In the summer, I tend to get up really early to do all my grocery shopping and things, so that I can then come home and never leave the house until the sun goes back down.
And on the subject of shopping, while flipping through the news on my iPad this morning, I discover this whopper of a story in The Wall Street Journal online.
Travel company Orbitz recently discovered that people who use Apple’s Mac computers spend as much as 30% or more a night on hotels. So, in turn, Orbitz is starting to give them different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than what Windows visitors see.
You mean, I have to go back to using Windows in order to get the best deals on Orbitz? Not necessarily, but it’s quite evident that you’ll be given different promotions, many of which will cost more because you’re part of the cool, Apple fanboy set.
Now if we could just see what Orbitz would offer up to Ubuntu Linux users…a cardboard shack out back?!
I’ve been writing about IBM’s smarter commerce initiative for several months now, and this is a perfectly good example of how companies are using all that great information they’re garnering in their web browsing and sales activities, then using that information to market differently to different folks.
Before you Mac users pull your long dormant Windows7 machine out of hibernation, first, remember you can always opt to rank all your results on Orbitz (and other travel sites) by price, and you’re obviously not limited to the promotions you are offered.
But Orbitz did find that Mac users spend an average of $20-$30 a night more on hotels than their PC counterparts, according to the WSJ story, which is a substantial difference considering that the site’s average nightly hotel booking is around $100.
I sense a whole new wave of Mac v. PC commercials coming on:
PC Guy: Dude, I stayed at the Four Seasons for $30 less than you did last night because I run Windows!
Mac Guy: Yes, but you didn’t look nearly as cool as me hanging out at the hotel bar with all the hipsters. And when I turn my computer on it just works!
The data also revealed that Mac users tend to stay in more expensive rooms than the Windows crowd.
So, this is the part where I go back outside, grab my Pina Colada and multiple cans of 60 SPS Walgreen tanning spray, and hand you off to the IBM Smarter Commerce Website so you can read more about how you can utilize such predictive analytics for business advantage.
And don’t forget about my last post, where I mentioned some recent announcements IBM made in the predictive analytics space.
Former CNN head and noted biographer Walter Isaacson captured my attention from the moment he walked on the IBM Impact 2012 stage and announced his next book would be a history of the computer age.
Then, Isaacson launched into an explanation of what attributes great innovators shared throughout history — Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs.
Though Isaacson’s keynote at times seemed like an uncoordinated symphony, the words of wisdom and insight, and keen observations into the lives of his subjects, made his talk both compelling and inspirational.
Isaacson paid homage in his opening comments to IBM’s 100-year history of innovation and contributions to the information age, but it was his most recent biographical subject, Steve Jobs, that he let serve as the channel behind the magic of an unwavering and driven innovator.
“Don’t be afraid,” Isaacson said in describing Jobs at his persuasive best. “You can do it.”
Whatever it might be really depended on the situation and circumstance — once, it was Jobs convincing Steve Wozniak to write some game code in four days. Another time, it was convincing Corning CEO Wendell Weeks that he could manufacture his “guerrilla glass — which, at that point, had never actually been manufactured — in time to support the first iPhones.
Jobs, of course, was an exemplar of the great American creation myth, but behind the mythology there were lots of life lessons learned, particularly in childhood, another universal Isaacson observed about his innovators.
“The most important thing is not making a great product,” Jobs explained to Isaacson in one of his nearly 40 interviews, “but rather a company that will continue to make great products.”
Jobs and Wozniak started their empire in their parents’ garage, and went on to change the world and, over the course of his life, Jobs’ changed multiple industries: personal computing, the music business, digital animation…the list goes on.
Childhood curiosities, Isaacson observed, shared by Franklin and Einstein.
That was another unique characteristic that they all shared: The curiousity and persistence to try and solve problems and look for new ways of thinking up until their last breaths.
Smart people are generally a dime a dozen, explained Isaacson, but the innovative people, the imaginative people — they’re the ones who change the world.
But they also shared an ability to quickly get to the heart of the problem, and to encourage others to find their way to simplicity.
Isaacson quotes Einstein this time, but he just as well could have once again been referring to Steve Jobs:
“Any damned fool can make something complicated…it takes a genius to make it simple.”
Perfect case in point, the “on/off” switch for the iPod, which was in one of the original early designs, but which Jobs pointed out was unnecessary when he reviewed a prototype with his designers.
“You don’t need an on/off switch,” he explained. “When you quit using the iPod it just powers down.”
And so it was.
Isaacson shared another revealing anecdote, this time about Benjamin Franklin’s participation in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and, later, the collaboration on the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.
The original Declaration read: “We hold these truths to be sacred,” but Franklin, sensitive to the divine implications of such a phrase, and sensitive to the need for church/state clarity, suggested a re-wording: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
And so it was.
Yet years later, benefiting both from experience and having developed a sense of humility along the way, Franklin was more accommodating and facilitated a critical discussion centering on the inequities of power between the big states and little states in the nascent U.S. Union.
His urging to compromise led to the genius that became the U.S. House and Senate, where one body was proportional to the population, and the other was equitable regardless of state size. When a lady later asked him what he had “given them,” Franklin explained “A Republic, madam…if you can keep it.”
Yet despite all of their incredible accomplishments and breakthrough innovations, each of these giant men were, in the end, just that, men, people, humans — filled with the same kind of self-doubts and wonderment at the universe as all the rest of us.
Isaacson reminded us when Jobs returned to the helm of Apple in 1997 that he green-lighted a new ad campaign from Chiat/Day that celebrated the spirt of the great innovators. The slogan went like this:
“People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
He was. And he did. Einstein was. And he did. Franklin was, and he did.
Each in their own unique way, but with underneath each a connecting thread of a drive towards perfection, an insatiable amount of unsated curiosity, and always looking for a way forward.
Isaacson closed his talk with a beautiful and reminiscent story of Jobs, who knew he was nearing his last days on earth. He asked Jobs, with all his Zen Buddhism training, what he felt spiritually, and did he feel there was something larger in this world than the moments we spend on this spinning globe?
Jobs explained that he liked to think so, that our spirits live on, and all that accumulated spiritual wisdom somehow benefits us moving forward.
But then, after a pause, he explained that at other times, he felt that death is just like one of those on-off switches.
Like the ones he didn’t want included on the iPod.
BLOGGER’S NOTE: I had occasion to interview Walter Isaacson on the key themes behind his keynote just after he was finished speaking. Among other things, I questioned him about his early work in digital media at Time’s Pathfinder group in 1994-1995, the impact of the Internet on the global economy, his work with the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe on the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and his perspective on the renaissance New Orleans is currently enjoying. Stay tuned to the Turbo blog for more on this far-ranging and compelling Q&A.