Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson


8.0 Think Different

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“Maybe that is why I never liked to put on-off switches on apple devices.”

He did not want a switch off button. He wanted his product to be resilient, vibrant and rule breaking. It is a passion for him to challenge status-quo and distort realities to his will. He drove without a number plate, parked on handicap parking and insulted half of the people in his life. He never thought the ordinary rules applied to him; Nonetheless, he did not escape the rules any longer than iPhone outlived its battery.

Apple was on a different starting line, a parallel universe and follow another set of rules. Apple was critical of market research. On the contrary, Apple believed that consumer will not know what they want until they see it (Henry Ford had similar belief!). Apple redefined the new frontiers of consumer products: button-less, stylus-less iPhone, the iconic track wheel on iPod, the ultra stylish iPad (it was once criticized as nothing more than a iPhone with a bigger screen!) and even the calculator application on every iMac bear the hallmark of Steve Jobs. It is not in Apple’s DNA to follow rules! No other company could take critical decisions as efficient as Apple did. No other company would dare to print Think Different instead of Think Differently (the latter one is more grammatically correct). Apple has become the synonym of innovation. Today’s Apple is a true reflection of its legendary leader – Steve Jobs.

The book has expansively explored what made Steve Jobs who he was. Even though either his company or his personal life would require full five volumes to do the awe inspiring journey a justice, Mr. Isaacson has done a wonderful job to compress them in seven hundred pages! Mr. Isaacson was able to collect massive amount of firsthand information from Steve’s friends, colleagues, co-founders, girlfriends and even enemies. Also because of Mr. Isaacson long relationship with Apple and Steve, he has shed many interesting and candid details about Steve Jobs’ philosophy.

Those anecdotes made Steve more human. It was shocking to learn that even though Steve Jobs resented his biological father so much that he never recognized him, he also abandoned a child at the same age when his father abandoned him. Steve was even a regular customer to his biological father’s restaurant, though for many years his biological father knew him only as a generous tipper. Steve’s thunderous temper was a nightmare to everyone around him. He could be laser focused or to be totally detached, and swiftly switch between them. Those anecdotes were so masterfully blended throughout the book that kept me glued to my seat until I finished the last page.

It was particularly poignant to read the last few pages of the book. Cancer slowly cannibalized what was left of Steve. The bed ridden image does not easily associate with him. Steve was the person who did a pilgrimage to India, who practiced Yoga and Zen, who singlehandedly turned around an ailing company and raised new exciting industries. Now in the Steve-less Apple, how long will the iBuzz last? Apple, like many other great companies, will not escape the rise and fall cycle of business. Then when iBuzz is no more, what will be the next Angry birds and Fruit Ninja?!

The book is a great read. It is somewhat hallucinating for anyone to immerse in the world of Steve Jobs. It is so passionate that it burns. Through the microscope lens of Isaacson, we see both the magnificent glories and unbiased flaws in Steve Jobs’ life. A normal yet extraordinary man who said he wanted to make a dent in the universe and who have done just that.

 

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