As I visited www.apple.com to check on iOS 5, I was greeted by Steve. Or, I should say, Steve’s picture greeted me from the home page. It was made all the more poignant by the fact that the dates made it clear that I was looking at a memorial to a man, one who has certainly had a huge effect on my life.
For the past decade, I have continually heard clients talk about how Apple has totally grasped branding, experience design, product design, innovation (insert any variable that matches your context). In his passing, bloggers, pundits, and the media in general have begun to look back on his contributions. NYC Mayor Bloomberg even compared him to Edison and Einstein with regard to how his work has changed our world.
At Method, we live and breathe experience design. We live and breathe branding. We live and breathe innovation. And we live a lot of our work and non-work lives with Apple products. As I think of the contributions of Edison and Einstein, my mind raced to bridge a gap — Steve Jobs’ contribution to our world is not just for the benefit of designers, or “early-adapters” or “Mac Fanboys” or any other demographic/pyschographic segmentation that would allow the contribution to be reviewed with an asterik (*Steve’s innovations changed the world for 60% male/40% female, 24-37 yrs, $150K household income, urban/suburban, creatively inclined professionals).
There is a lot of information, from Steve verbatim, and from those who worked with him, about what the goal of all of this was. And it may be that it shifted over time as technologies matured, digital media disrupted industries and business models, and the nature of the network began to be woven more and more into our daily lives. But as I looked at Steve’s picture on the Apple web site, I had a profound realization for what he had done and how important has been to my life, our business, and the world at large: Steve brought the best of the opportunities enabled by the computer — processing power, digital media, connection to the network affect — and put it at our finger tips. From the early adoption of the mouse and the WIMP user interaction model, to the control wheel of the first iPods, to the iTouch, the iPhone, the iPad, literally everything Apple has done has been creating the best in experience design that brings the power and benefits of technology and putting it at our fingertips.
What a brilliant stroke of genius. While everyone struggles with balancing form and function of technology to deliver technology, Steve went straight to the heart of the matter. We are visual beings who see our environment and use our hands to take control. The hand-eye relationship underlies our specialization amongst animals, it part of the heart of every creative craft on which we have built our cultures and civilizations.
Yes, the iPad is a genius piece of design. Yes the iPod and iTunes changed an industry and will affect future generations — how will you hear that song that marks your first love? But in the final analysis, perhaps the most important thing that has been accomplished has been showing the world what technology can be, how it should approached from human terms. What we see, what we touch, he we manipulate; these are the core components of the human experience.
And Steve seemed to know that if these can be engaged in the right way, the world is your oyster.