It is with great sadness I write this post. Last night the world learned Steve Jobs had lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. He will be remembered for helping define and repeatedly elevating the tech space with people-centric innovations. We came to appreciate how he envisioned possibilities. He will be missed. From a FreePlayVL perspective, our most fitting tribute is to review how Steve Jobs made music sublimely portable and forever altered how we consume, purchase and experience music!
The iPod was released just ten years ago–strangely enough this very month. Under Steve Job’s leadership, Apple helped us download the soundtrack to our lives. The iPod was sleek and deliciously free from a bunch of buttons or dials. At first it was a bit intimidating, but then it quickly became indispensable because it was so easy to learn and use. With iTunes, we could load up all of our music, and take it with us almost anywhere! And the battery didn’t let us down either. We learned to sort by genre, artist, or our own playlists, or rely on Genius to dynamically create a playlist based on our music and our preferences. And when we didn’t want to work that hard, perhaps we’d opt to surprise ourselves with shuffle.
In addition to Steve’s vision and product development genius, he was a masterful marketer. Where others considered the package a necessary evil, Jobs made the package part of the experience. Remember the pleasured satisfaction upon opening your first iPod? Apple products are not only visually pleasing, they are also fulfilling from a tactile perspective too–they just feel good in our hands. But what sealed the deal creating rabid Apple fans along the way, was how intuitive, reliable and easy Apple products are to use. Even my two-year-old granddaughter can navigate the iPad to find her apps.
After hearing the news, I heard Jobs described as a modern equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci–another genius who imagined “insanely great” things. Jobs was an inventor and innovator, but he was also a shrewd and capable businessman. Making the iPod simple to use, also meant Steve Jobs had to turn the legal framework backstopping the legacy music industry on its ear. That was probably more difficult than the design challenges of the device! While record labels lament the shift of control to the consumer, the simple truth is more music is purchased today than at any other time in history. And now it can happen instantly… wirelessly!
Many brag about the wide variety of music they have on their iPods–another indication Steve knew what we wanted, even though radio stations at that time focused only on genre. Purchasing music that appeals on a personal level, when and how we want–a song at a time for about a $1–changed everything. While the iTunes/iPod music experience is clearly personal, sharing music, even buying and emailing a song for someone as a gift, also means music has never been more social.
Because Steve’s vision came to life through Apple’s products, like many other fans I felt like I knew him, and the news of his passing is a blow. He will be missed. In some small way we thanked him every time we purchased an Apple product. Earlier this summer he did get to see Apple briefly become the most valuable company on the planet. Not bad for a guy who dropped out of a college.
Steve was driven by making possibilities real. Did he do it alone? No, but he was clearly an effective and passionate leader. Are there criticisms of Steve Jobs over the years? Of course. Some earned. Most not. What is indisputable, however, is Steve Jobs changed the world.
He pushed all limits to create satisfying experiences, successfully and repeatedly delivering products that brought us all forward. Steve also created multi-billion dollar markets in the process, including smart phones and tablets. The new age of computers started with the iPod and iTunes fundamentally changing how we experience music, but he didn’t stop there. Apple products do more because they are grounded in the potential created by a fully-integrated, rich media experience that includes not just standard business applications such as word processing, but graphics design, desk top publishing, and web design, as well as music, videos, and photos all backstopped by the cloud. His ideas have made time and space moot through full-featured, robust–yet profoundly accessible–and portable computing. This is his lasting legacy. Because of Steve’s vision, we are all more open to ever greater possibilities.
Thank you, Steve.
Teddi Davis is Marketer, Taverner, and Editor. She specializes in social media advertising and operating a live music Irish bar in Westminster, CO.