Sunday, September 1, 2013

Jobs. Genius?

Published: September 1, 2013

You are either cool, or you are not. You either buy Apple or you don’t.
That is how many people see Apple and its products. You either hate it or you love it.
By the time Steve Paul Jobs died in 2011, Apple — a company he bought on the verge of bankruptcy — was the largest company in the world, with more cash reserves than the US government. His time at Apple is an incredible story of a revival of a company that he co-founded and was then forced to leave. And the products that he helped design and visualize, more often than not, demarcated cool from uncool.
But this is not just a story of business genius, creative excellence or even financial success. It is a story of love.
Let me tell you upfront that I am a fan of Steve Jobs. I am also a fan of Apple, the company as well as Apple products. I thought I would clear this up at the start just so that no one can accuse me of any bias later on. But I am telling you that I really am biased and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I am being honest.
In many ways Steve Jobs was like that. He was a passionate, focused and driven individual who changed so many things in so many ways. He changed our lives on micro as well as macro levels. But he was not a nice person. In fact, some say that he often took great pleasure in making sure people knew that they were inferior to him. He was no angel, and no hero. He was also just as responsible for Apple’s failure in his first stint there, as he was responsible for Apple’s resounding success in his second stint at the company. The movie Jobs, which has just hit cinemas in Pakistan, unfortunately ignores the first part of his journey.
And that is why this movie falls flat trying to do justice to one of the greatest geniuses of our time. It focuses far too much on Apple products and the company and ignores the man. And where it does focus on the man, it portrays him in a light that is patronizing in the least and idolatrous at the worst.
For example, people often call Jobs an inventor. He was not. If at all, Steve Wozniak was much more of an inventor. But the reason Jobs was able to turn Apple into a financial success is because he never missed out on the money-making opportunity in every invention and innovation. He was a marketing genius, a brilliant seller.
Basically anything Steve Wozniak could come up with, and see as a gadget, Jobs was able to mold into a marketable product. That was pretty much the essence of the man’s genius.
But having said that, Jobs was a complex man and the movie fails to capture this.
It focuses on the fact that Apple makes glamorous products but fails to see that this glamour does not transcend the company itself. It is sad that the movie’s plot failed it, because Ashton Kutcher actually did a pretty good job of portraying Steve Jobs.
One stand-out feature of the movie is the use of Steve Jobs quotes. For a budding entrepreneur, many of these sayings are pure gold. For example, Jobs once said, “The greatest artists like Dylan, Picasso and Newton risked failure. And if we want to be great, we’ve got to risk it too.”

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