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Stop Distracting Steve Jobs

Posted on Thursday, Jan 11th 2007

After Personal Computing, Film, Music, Steve Jobs is now tackling the Cellular Phone business, and with such aplomb, that one wonders why the SEC and the media would not simply leave him alone to do his thing … work his magic, wave his wand, think, feel, play … whatever it is that gives him the internal capacity for doing what he does best: come up with products that embody a sublime clarity of vision.

Really, these Options scandals and all are distractions that deter Steve Jobs from his real focus (and value) in life: leading the vision for whole huge industries, of human behavior, of social change!

Especially, given that nobody else, anywhere in the world, is capable of doing what he does, it seems to be foolish for society to crucify this man, rather than empowering him to do more.

Einstein had said of Gandhi, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as [Gandhi] ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” Jobs is no Gandhi in his capacity to sacrifice for humanity at large. His skills, however, seem necessary to a generation of humanity that has come to depend on technology as a way of life.

And in fact, if Jobs did put his heart and his brilliant mind on it, he could, indeed, have impact far larger than Gandhi. Or Yunus.

Every time I travel in India, especially rural India, it strikes me, that modern technology is still, largely absent from the lives of several billion people in the world. However, I also believe, that a convergence device that combines the essential functions of a cell phone (communication) and an authentication device (smart card functions), that can enable this segment to connect to a banking system and access micro-credit inexpensively, would indeed change the world.

This device cannot cost $500. In fact, it may be a device that is distributed for free by Citibank as part of the enrollment into their microcredit program. Or, it is commissioned by the Gates Foundation, with Bill & Melinda Gates making a special request to their friend Steve Jobs, to contribute his product design talent to a cause.

No, this would not benefit Apple’s immediate gross margin fattening objectives. It would, if he applied his talents to making technology accessible and meaningful to a few billion new users that are today barely surviving, however, place Apple and Steve Jobs amongst one of humanity’s greatest contributors.

The question is, does he care?

iPhone Video
| Steve’s Devices, an excellent analysis of the Jobs psyche | Media reactions, some amusing comments.

Related article from WSJ on global poverty and On Steve Jobs’ Options.

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Steve Jobs is great at coming up with exqusite products that are by nature pricey. He doesn’t have any track record in creating products for the bottom of the pyramid. So I don’t see him offering products for markets such as India.

Dasher Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 8:40 PM PT

I would like to add that Bill Gates is more likely to make much larger impact on society than Jobs through his foundation and also may be through future MS products.

Dasher Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 8:48 PM PT

Steve jobs is a hack. His products are lame and so proprietary that his a$$ could turn coal into diamonds. Rio made a better, cheaper mp3 player years before the iPud came along but the public was dumb enough to fall for some slick advertising as is to be expected and of course that product line was just riding the wave of harddrive and memory improvements. If Mac’s are so great why did they abandon their own CPUs and switch to the same CPUs as PCs? Why has apple adopted so many PC practices and products? And why is the Mac still a much smaller share of the market? Steve Jobs is a hack buoyed up by a willing zombie population of people more fascinated with appearance than functionality.

Geez Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 10:24 PM PT


You seem to have a rather naive understanding of markets, marketing, consumer behavior, and most certainly Steve Jobs. Yes, he made many strategy errors on keeping the MAC proprietary in his previous incarnation, but if you don’t appreciate what he has done with the iPod, that’s really sad. And now, iPhone will lead us into a whole new era of convergence.

The fundamental is simple, comprising only of the essential, and not cluttered by excessive functionality. The significance of Steve Jobs is in his ability to derive the essence, and get to the fundamental. That takes a thinker of a very high order.

And my dear, appearance is very important. To quote Einstein again, “Formal symbolic representation of qualitative entities is doomed to its rightful place of minor significance in a world where flowers and beautiful women abound.”


Sramana Mitra Friday, January 12, 2007 at 12:09 AM PT

Hmm. Interesting shades of “crime and punishment” here. Some people are so gifted that laws meant for ordinary mortals don’t apply to them. That seems to be what you’re saying with respect to the SEC. There’s a reason for those laws – to protect the ordinary shareholder. He should respect those laws instead of side-stepping them to line his pockets. He’s already made so much money. Why should resort to this kind of stuff? What a disappointment.

Desi Friday, January 12, 2007 at 12:12 AM PT

And Dash, Bill Gates comes up with utterly unusable products. To win over the billions of entry level users, a simple product consisting only of the essentials that get that user set to some important killer apps, is a much tougher task than one might imagine.

It will require a similarly fundamental thinking, paring down to the essence.

If Steve Jobs could be recruited to use Gates’ money to bring this vision to fruition, it would be magic.

Sramana Mitra Friday, January 12, 2007 at 12:12 AM PT

Please read Dominique’s article on the current reality of the Options laws. Why kick such a storm of dust by making laws retroactive? Of course rules apply to Jobs and to everyone else. But the current witch hunt is getting seriously unproductive wrt real business, since these people who are being painted as criminals seem to simply have been caught in the crack of unclearly spelled out rules of the SEC.

Sramana Mitra Friday, January 12, 2007 at 12:15 AM PT

“And in fact, if Jobs did put his heart and his brilliant mind on it, he could, indeed, have impact far larger than Gandhi. Or Yunus.”

In a planet where 1/2 of all people live on less than a dollar a day? How? Maybe by coming up with a 10 dollar iPod that guarantees better living standards and world peace I suppose!

Bharath Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 3:23 PM PT

May be you ought to read the article before commenting on it?

Sramana Mitra Friday, January 19, 2007 at 9:35 PM PT