Why Are We Sad at Steve’s Death?

Every death is sad.  Everyone is someone’s parent, child, sibling, friend.  If we truly have no one at the end, that’s tragic.  But most deaths go unnoticed and unmourned by most people.  I, like most who mourn his death, didn’t know Steve Jobs.  Yet people are weeping tears and feeling empty because of his passing.  I’m usually somewhat cynical about these things, but this time I’ve been affected by it.

At the most superficial level, of course, Steve touched millions of lives with his technology.

My house and pockets are full of it: Macs, iPad, iPhones, iPods, Apple TV… I came into the Apple fold four or five years ago.  I don’t remember my first iProduct, but I coincidently took delivery of my first Mac on my son’s 10th birthday.  His products are integral to my life.  Could I live without them?  Undoubtedly, but I don’t.  These are a tangible connection not only with the company, but with the man.  I picked up my iPad this morning and thought of Steve.  (I don’t usually, but under the circumstances…)

Steve’s influence goes far beyond his own products.

A Steve Jobs created NeXT Computer was used to develop the world’s first web server software and to write the first web browser.  It became the world’s first web server (Wikipedia).  That’s a profound contribution to 21st century life – possibly more than any iDevice.  Use a computer with a windows based user interface and mouse?  Of course you do.  Thank Steve Jobs..

If the iPhone hadn’t been created, the Android mobile phone platform as we know it wouldn’t exist.  In fact, the smart phone phenomenon, as a phenomenon, may not exist.  Smartphones existed before the iPhone, but they were mainly corporate devices.  Steve changed the game.  Android may outsell iOS, but the iPhone is still the biggest selling handset.  Likewise, everyone is scrabbling to make the iPad ‘killer’.  Someone probably will succeed in the next couple of years, but Steve Jobs started that race.  Prior to iPad, tablet computers were a niche product.  In fact, iPad has outsold every other tablet computer in history combined.  And yes, these were Steve’s babies.  He was the inspiration and was intimately involved in their creation.

Apple diehards are sad because we’ve lost such an inspiring figure.

He wasn’t just a geek, he was one of the most brilliant business-men of his time.  He was the guy who saved Apple, which was on the verge of bankruptcy in the mid-90’s, and turned it into one of the largest companies in the world ($70B in the bank and second largest company by market capitalisation).  For Apple diehards, this is a big deal.  And many are wondering what happens next.  But such was the man’s vision that he created an Apple university to train Apple executives in his leadership style.

Then there were his legendary Keynotes.  My son watched the 2007 introduction of the iPhone, the famous “one more thing” just the other day.  Jobs is the premier example of how to use Keynote (PowerPoint for Windows users).  Many executives try to emulate his presentation style.  But there is only one Steve.

But there’s another side, Steve was a pseudo-religious figure.

That may sound extreme, and being an intensely private person, I doubt Jobs would have welcomed it.  But for many, Apple is religion.  I know of people who have tattooed the Apple logo on their skin.  They make pilgrimages to Apple store openings and product launches, lining up overnight to show their devotion.  They go into raptures of anticipation before an Apple event and wake up at 2am (if they’re in my time zone) so they can read a live blog of the event.  This ‘cult of mac’ phenomenon has been the object of many books and documentaries.  I’ve heard Steve referred to as ‘messiah’.  Apple is their religion and Steve Jobs was their high-priest.  Such is the devotion Steve Jobs inspired.

As a Christian, I’m sad on another level.

Steve was an amazing man, but as human beings we’re all flawed, amazing creations.  Jesus taught that our flaws keep us from knowing God, and he came to remedy that situation.  He declared, “I am the way, the truth and life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”  Steve wasn’t the Messiah, Jesus is.  I don’t know if Steve knew Christ.  In any case, he’s in God’s hands now and God is fair.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Jobs’ influence has been unparalleled. We have lost an amazing human being.

RIP Steve Jobs.

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