“If you live every day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right” Steve Jobs quoted an anonymous source in his speech to the Stanford graduating class in 2005. Yesterday was the day Steve was right and the world lost one of its true creative geniuses – a man who has changed each and every one of our lives in important and lasting ways. And not just with his disruptive products like the Mac and the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Those are some of his innovative tools but the real innovation was in how we relate to one another.
I imagine everyone recognizes that the way we interact has changed with iPhone and iPad. Steve gave us the gift of a great communication experience. For blind people, like myself, it is more than that. Steve Jobs opened that modern world fully to me and people like me by making the full experience of his products accessible, out of the box. He had the vision to see me as a customer who wanted to be treated like any other customer and gave me the privilege of walking in a store and paying retail for a product off the shelf that immediately gave me the same access and experience as any person with sight.
If the marketplace were a religion, as I guess it is for some, Steve Jobs deserves to be canonized, not just for his unbelievable marketing successes but for his wisdom and foresight to reach out to the whole market. I can assure you that blind people everywhere would pause before his statue and say a prayer of thanks to whatever deity we believe in for giving us Steve Jobs.
Steve used the quote above to talk about his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer which is what eventually claimed him six years later, but not until he had seen Apple for one brief shining moment rise to be the most valued company on the planet. Not bad for a guy who didn’t graduate from college and who, twenty-five years ago, was fired from Apple, the company he and Steve Wozniak founded. He talked about how dropping out of college and getting fired from Apple were some of the best things that happened to him, opening up new vistas and freeing him to pursue what he loved with the freshness of beginning anew.
It was an inspiring speech that spoke to my heart and I’m sure the hearts of every student sitting in that great outdoor coliseum. And maybe the most important thing he said was that “no one wants to die. Even those who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.” But he added that dying was one of the great gifts of life because it cleared out the old and made way for the new.
And now Steve has cleared out and that leaves us with the challenge of making new experiential products even better than the gifts Steve brought us. And as he said, there is no time to waste because our time to be “cleared out” will soon be upon us. They seem impossibly large shoes to fill and yet if we follow his guidance and “do what we love,” how can we fail?
Rest in peace Steve! You will be missed! All we can do now is try our best to keep your dream of a magical user experience alive.