Like many, I was shocked to hear of Steve’s passing yesterday. Twitter, Facebook, all the major news outlets and even the president himself poured out heartfelt thoughts and condolences to his family. I work for the other team so I shouldn’t be as sentimental as those who live or die by their Apple products, right? Wrong. I’m surprised by just how moved I am.
I experienced my first Apple product just four years ago. Sure, I’d seen (and even touched!) Macs, iPods and even the occasional Apple II in high school. But nothing had ever really struck me as something I had to have. Then the iPhone was released. At first I didn’t believe the hype or the videos of it in action. How could they make the UI so fluid? How could it be so thin? It had to be a mock up.
So I bought one. I walked into an Apple store and walked out a mere ten minutes later, iPhone in hand. When I got home it turned out to be everything the hype said it was: it was revolutionary. It wasn’t the hardware or the software. It was the whole package. This is the magic of Apple: from my first Apple store experience to my first product unboxing to my first usage of my shiny new iPhone, my whole expectation of consumer electronics had permanently changed.
The experience matters. The whole experience. Apple carefully planned my entire iPhone experience from the moment I set foot in the store all the way through to buying my next iPhone. They are experts at sweating the small stuff. Because Steve was an expert at sweating the small stuff. Steve taught the world that it matters how things feel in your hand. It matters what kinds of materials are used and how durable something is through day-to-day use. It matters how you’re treated when you walk into a store. It even matters what color the box is. All of these thousands of small details add up and create something larger than the whole.
I know Apple will go on sweating the small stuff. I’m sure that’s one of the thousands of small details Steve attended to before he left. But the computer industry and the entire world has lost a very rare and unique visionary.