I just finished putting my daughter to bed tonight and I come down to my office and I see the news. Â “Steve Jobs has passed away at 56.” Â I have never felt so sad about someone passing away that I only met a couple of times. Â His impact on my life goes well beyond the 30 minutes or so we spent in a conference room.
Everyday I put an iPhone in my pocket, and use my Mac to organize family photos, and my MacBookPro for work. Â The first Apple hardware I ever used was in 1st Grade, in 1985. Â I don’t remember much about it, but I know I enjoyed my time on the computer. Â It probably even captured my attention enough to want to write software 14 years at AOL.
From an early visit on the Apple Campus with the iChat Team
It was at AOL, that I would get a change to work closely with Apple and get the chance to initially see him, and then eventually meet him. Â I was always impressed that you could find Steve walking around campus, in the Mac Cafe eating lunch with the troops, etc. Â My first encounter with Steve was during a visit in 2006. Â I was riding in a car with a colleague who will remain unnamed, and as we were pulling out of the visitor lot in front of 1 Infinite Loop, we nearly ran over Steve Jobs. Â We were all so stunned we just looked at each other.
Later in my career at AOL, I got to meet Steve and I after I got over my nervous excitement, he was one of the most genuinely passionate persons about Apple products and technology.
Steve’s legacy goes beyond the physical technologies we all use. Â His commencement speech at Stanford University, the movies from Pixar, and the huge influence he has had over leaders in the tech community today. Â The world today is a lesser place with his departure, my condolences go out to Steve’s family, friends and my friends at Apple. Â Thanks for everything Steve.
I have read at least a dozen different blog posts in the last hour from different sources about how Apple let us down today with iPhone4S. Â Please, can we stop this? Â Yesterday I wrote that Apple was going to call the next version iPhone4S, and that was just fine with me.
Of course after today’s reaction, Apple should have called the phone iPhone5 or iPhone10. Â The point isÂ version numbers of a product are always blown out of proportion. Â It reminds me of the book and movie The Right Stuff, when Chuck Yeager broke Scott Crossfield’s speed record of Mach 2.0 by flying at Mach 2.44, no one cared because the “media likes a nice round number.”
Enough, let’s move past this. Â The new iPhone is significant and despite what the media thinks, the phone is going to be the most popular mobile device sold in the 4th quarter. Here are my favorite features from today’s announcement:
- Siri is going to be awesome to try. Â I am skeptical that any voice recognition will work well, but the demo I got of Siri previous to today was better than any other attempt. Â When I have seen people use voice recognition software in the past, they change the way they talk, to sound like a robot almost to interface with the device, but Siri is definitely different.
- The camera rules, and the apps that go with the camera make it as good or better than point and shoot cameras. Â The cold/warm start times to get the camera loaded for a picture is very impressive too.
- More power and more speed for applications to use and for users to access information across the net. Â Though it was disappointing that Apple did not deliver a 4G/LTE iPhone.
- Most people will say the find your friends feature is lame and that Foursquare, Facebook and others have this market cornered, but the truth is that I might use this feature more for knowing where my friends and family are when they are running late or where my wife is when we go to a shopping mall.
I think there is a difference between pleasing the media versus getting consumers excited. Â Apple will always focus on the latter and that should be applauded. Â When people walk into the Apple store and when they see their friends using the new iPhone, Â they are going to want one.
Popular Mechanics had a great article today from an Apple Store employee, who I am sure is now an ex-store employee given Apple’s stringent rules.
Despite my inside access at Apple’s Cupertino Campus for years, I never was able to get details on what happened at Apple Stores. Â Though I did get a great story about “testing” the Apple Store before any opened in May 2001, from friends. Â Apparently, Apple put its own employees on buses and took them to non descript warehouses in the Valley. Â When they walked in the warehouses were set up as Apple Stores. Â The employees were given time to “shop” and executives observed how the overall flow of the store worked. Â After a certain amount of time, they would clear out the store, reconfigure it, and start the process all over again. Â Eventually they found a perfect combination of displays, open space, number of clerks, etc.
As for some of the behind the scenes hilarity:
- Dealing with drug dealers who come in and try to buy iPhones with fake IDs ranks high on the list.
- Pushing MobileMe and AppleCare is a common theme, and happens to me every time I buy something at the Apple Store, and I never get it.
- Foreign resellers haggling on prices is an issue, but if you go to Sawgrass Mills Mall in Florida you will see that is a common problem even at the Lee Jeans Store.
I am definitely going to look at my shopping experience more closely the next time I am in the Apple Store.