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October 24, 2011, 4:46 am UTC
Much has been written about Steve Jobs, but very little touch the core of what made him successful.
In the wake of Steve Jobs’ death two weeks back, a lot has been written about what a technological genius he was and the amazing gadgets he made and how he changed different fields forever. Most of these articles however, give a mythic dimension to the persona and genius of Steve Jobs. They make him into a tech-god. Well, nothing wrong with that, he was all that they have talked about him. Yet, most of them forget the real secret behind his success – he understood people better than most others in the tech world did.
If you look around today, there is so much technology in so many spheres of your life that it is often disconcerting for most people. They wonder what is good, what is better than the good and whether that good or better does suit their current needs. Worst for them, most of these technologies are confusing despite their genius. An average user of technology feels lost and confused in this maddening, ever changing tech world. And technocrats today, proud of what they have produced, forget the people they have made this for. Steve Jobs understood this. He had one hand constantly put over the pulse of the people.
Hence, when there were many mp3 players in the market, a few even better than his, he came out with the iPod which with its simplicity of use and sleek design became an instant hit. So while people marveled at the technical genius of the product, they forgot that the real marvel of the product was the simplicity of its use and the beauty of it design. For the first time a user was not intimidated with a confusing mp3 player, or put off by such a bad design that they were embarrassed to show it off to others.
And it is this skin of simplicity and ease of use that has made every single Apple product appealing. The case was the same when the iPhone came. People were stunned by the simplicity of its use and good looks. Why did a phone have to have a keypad when a touchpad ensured that users had a bigger screen for the ease of their viewing experience.
World over, music companies talked about the problem of piracy, finding measures like punishing those indulged in piracy, not realizing that this only fuelled piracy more. It was Steve Jobs who understood that it was wrong to blame a user who at the end of the day sought ease of use. His solution was simple. Give people an option to buy individual songs and at a cheap prize instead of shoving an entire album down their throat. His dollar-a-song iTunes store, with its ease of use and payment options, became an overnight sensation and once again threw the gyan of pundits, back on their faces. The result, he change the music industry.
He did the same with Pixar. He realized that people were fed of the recycled fairy tales that Disney would just not stop producing. He made animation films that were in with the times, that were quirky and smart (which surprisingly were made by non-movie people) and the result was that he change the animation industry.
Then came the tablet, iPad. Again, even when the success of the iPhone demonstrated that what customers wanted was ease of use and a more personalized way of doing things, most other companies did not get it. iPad, with the same set of features like other products of Apple i.e. ease of use, personalization and a sleek design, again changed the computing world forever.
The secret of Steve Jobs was thus of marrying technology with the lowest common denominator. He never compromised on his technology, but ensured that people did not have to get intimidated with technology. His gadgets were thus like a jet plane engine fitted into a sleek car – no one could see the engine but they all knew what a fabulous car they were riding.
Another example for it can be given of an award winning art house film that manages to appeal to the masses as well. That is what Steve Jobs gadgets did. And that is what you need to do, if you want to be as successful as Steve Jobs – think different and most important of all, THINK PEOPLE.
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