by Larry Sivitz, Seattle24x7, Managing Editor
What always struck me about Steve Jobs was his willingness to defy the popular convention of product design. Jobs constantly resisted the notion of design by committee, by focus group, or by consumer tracking study that overload product features and complicate ease-of-use. Instead, by bucking the “wisdom of the crowd,” Jobs chose to lead the trends, not follow them, (something every president ought to learn from).
Under Jobs, Apple’s technology was entirely predictive of where technology was headed, not where it lived in the moment, which is the essence of “visionary” thinking.
Courage and persistence are heroic qualities, particularly when they counter prevailing trends. The Apple Chairman displayed both qualities in incredible proportions. While Apple has been lauded for the many things it has “added” to personal computing, the computer mouse being foremost, it has not hesitated to “lighten our load” in so many ways.
Apple was the first PC maker to remove the floppy disk drive from its machines, realizing that network connections and optical drives could carry larger payloads with much greater efficiency. Then Apple removed optical drives as it migrated file transfer to the Cloud. Apple was first with Firewire a standard that ran circles around USB, then Firewire 800, then it cut Firewire out, introducing Thunderbolt which provides for two channels on the same connector with 10Gbps of throughput in both directions. Thunderbolt is up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than with FireWire 800. Like a chessplayer, Jobs was never looking at the current position but several moves ahead on the board.
When Apple cut out Flash, the 2010-2011 version of Adobe’s microprocessor-hogging animation software, it recognized the superior HTML 5 was just around the corner. Less is more!
Products that are designed and developed by committee inevitably confront an overwrought features list, take on unwieldy gobs of overhead, and concede innovation and dexterity in a product’s life cycle. There is only one button on the Apple iPad, the “Home” button, only one dial on the iPod. From an industrial design standpoint, it is the elegant simplicity of Apple devices and the streamlined way they operate that makes the user experience more rewarding for more people. Less is more!
The Zen-like Jobs, himself a buddhist and a vegan, had a personal code that is also about doing more with less. Except for the occasional formal wear, his wardrobe is largely based on the same blue jeans brand and black turtleneck that he wears practically every day.
Jobs’ view of technology has enlightened us all with something other than weightiness — his products have lightened our burden. [24×7]