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Apple

How Steve Jobs' Legacy Has Changed 420

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-grabbing-headlines-a-year-later dept.
On the anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, reader SternisheFan sends in a story from CNN about how the Apple co-founder's legacy has changed since then. "... in the 12 months since, as high-profile books have probed Jobs' life and career, that reputation has evolved somewhat. Nobody has questioned Jobs' seismic impact on computing and our communication culture. But as writers have documented Jobs' often callous, controlling personality, a fuller portrait of the mercurial Apple CEO has emerged. 'Everyone knows that Steve had his "rough" side. That's partially because he really did have a rough side and partially because the rough Steve was a better news story than the human Steve,' said Ken Segall, author of Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success.' ... In Steve Jobs, Isaacson crafted a compelling narrative of how Jobs' co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak, got pushed out of the struggling company a decade later and then returned in the late 1990s to begin one of the most triumphant second acts in the annals of American business. But he also spent many pages chronicling the arrogant, cruel behavior of a complicated figure who could inspire people one minute and demean them the next. According to the book, Jobs would often berate employees whose work he didn't like. He was notoriously difficult to please and viewed people and products in black and white terms. They were either brilliant or 'sh-t.' 'Among Apple employees, I'd say his reputation hasn't changed one bit. If anything, it's probably grown because they've realized how central his contributions were,' Lashinsky said. 'History tends to forgive people's foibles and recognize their accomplishments. When Jobs died, he was compared to Edison and Henry Ford and to Disney. I don't know what his place will be in history 30, 40, 50 years from now. And one year is certainly not enough time (to judge).'" Apple has posted a tribute video on their homepage today.
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How Steve Jobs' Legacy Has Changed

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  • A year already? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:48AM (#41557545)
    Since Steve Jobs has been in the headlines every freaking day since he died, I would never have guess it happened a whole year ago.
    • Re:A year already? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:51AM (#41557573)

      Since Steve Jobs has been in the headlines every freaking day since he died, I would never have guess it happened a whole year ago.

      in our society we glorify sociopathic assholes who only care about making money and enforcing their narcissistic vision.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, we don't glorify you asshole. Next.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        in our society we glorify sociopathic assholes who only care about making money and enforcing their narcissistic vision.

        Why not start Whiny Bitches with Chips on Their Shoulders Day? It'd certainly strike a blow for your incredibly marginalised segment of society.

      • Um, so he hated Jewish people?
      • Re:A year already? (Score:5, Informative)

        by am 2k (217885) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:36AM (#41557965) Homepage

        in our society we glorify sociopathic assholes who only care about making money and enforcing their narcissistic vision.

        In Isaacson's book, there's a chapter on how Jobs told Larry Ellison to stop caring so much about making money, and thinking more about the products. I don't think making money was his driving force. I definitely won't argue about the other two characteristics you've described, though :)

        • Re:A year already? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Valor958 (2724297) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:41AM (#41558003)

          I certainly don't like Apple, and didn't like Jobs... but I completely understand why he did what he did, and the vision he had. He gave an interview on NPR I listened to, where he basically laid it all out. He was emulating his father and ideals he and his father shared. Make everything come together and function together. The walled garden approach the Apple embodies has it's ups and downs like any other business model. The major flaw, imho, is their approach and implementation. Jobs was a severely flawed person, and in a seat of power to make his flaws more glaringly apparent, with fuel for the fire.
          I say let the man rest in peace, and let Apple go where it may. Apple will NEVER advance if they keep trying to emulate Jobs. Jobs was not Apple, and Apple can and will survive without him. But now, they have the opportunity to change.

          • Re:A year already? (Score:5, Informative)

            by am 2k (217885) on Friday October 05, 2012 @09:00AM (#41558143) Homepage

            Apple will NEVER advance if they keep trying to emulate Jobs. Jobs was not Apple, and Apple can and will survive without him. But now, they have the opportunity to change.

            While I agree with you, the last time Apple tried to change post-Jobs, it went horribly wrong. There's a huge difference when career managers are in the driver's seat, compared to the ones that founded the company and defined its core values. I think Steve Jobs wanted to avoid that when he nurtured his successors (Tim Cook & Jony Ive) early, but that also means they're probably reluctant to change too much of his success strategy. We'll see how long they will be in control, but I'm afraid of what will come afterwards.

            • by jbolden (176878)

              Well Tim Cook was making changes even before Jobs left. Apple's designs have gotten vastly more complex as Apple has been willing to commit to complex supplier relationships and become excellent at logistics. You can already see some differences in that Apple products are becoming more interesting from a hardware perspective while less innovative in terms of positioning their software. Apple is willing to take on less glamorous but vastly more complex problems (map data being a wonderful example).

              I agree

            • by Macrat (638047)

              While I agree with you, the last time Apple tried to change post-Jobs, it went horribly wrong.

              You mean when Jobs was running the company into the ground and the board finally had to force him out?

              • While I agree with you, the last time Apple tried to change post-Jobs, it went horribly wrong.

                You mean when Jobs was running the company into the ground and the board finally had to force him out so that they could run it into the ground themselves?

                There.... I fixed it for you.

          • Re:A year already? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by TheLink (130905) on Friday October 05, 2012 @10:08AM (#41558883) Journal
            I've said it before but I'll say it again: Steve Jobs was an asshole. But one with taste. Many people can emulate the assholeness (and do) but they have no sense of taste.

            You can scream at the chefs and cooks in the kitchen as much as you like but if you have no sense of taste your restaurant isn't going to do well. But if you have a sense of taste, when you scream at them because something isn't great deep down everybody knows you are right and so even though the screaming isn't pleasant (or maybe even necessary) a fair number will accept it. And if you have an exquisite sense of taste, when you go "This is Insanely Great", they know you are right too, and it feels like a real achievement and affirmation.

            I personally believe there is no need to be an asshole to get people to do great work. But you really do need to know what is good and what is crap.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              I've said it before but I'll say it again: Steve Jobs was an asshole. But one with taste.

              In the future, you may want to be more discrete in admitting you enjoy the taste of assholes.

    • by kthreadd (1558445)

      Since Steve Jobs has been in the headlines every freaking day since he died, I would never have guess it happened a whole year ago.

      Maybe your should stop reading MacWorld then?

  • Last sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:49AM (#41557551)

    "And one year is certainly not enough time (to judge)."

    So what's the point of this article then?

    • Re:Last sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:53AM (#41557593) Homepage

      So what's the point of this article then?

      pageviews and ad revenue, I presume.

    • Re:Last sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bhagwad (1426855) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:17AM (#41557801) Homepage

      I think 30-40 years later history will in fact judge him poorly compared to Edison and Ford. I mean refining a smartphone design is one thing. But do we really want to compare it with the world changing achievements of mass vehicular transport and light bulbs and DC current.

      Let's get some perspective huh?

      • by bfandreas (603438) on Friday October 05, 2012 @09:09AM (#41558243)
        Why should Jobs be remembered in 50 years? I mean, the world has forgotten Thomas Watson even tho there were two of them.
        This jobsian cult of personality is something that absolutely eludes me.
        And yet, at this very moment, somewhere somebody is building a shrine to Jobs using the traditional building materials. Mashed potatoes and your own eyebrows.
        Madness. Translucent computers and phones you can operate by licking them. Madness, I tell you!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:49AM (#41557557)

    Just curious how much apple is getting on royalties for caskets with rounded corners.

  • You can get a lot done in this world if you don't care about people and give yourself free reign to push, abuse, over-praise, or cajole them to get where you want them to go. Its too bad you have to be horrible person to bring out the best in people.
    • You can get a lot done in this world if you don't care about people and give yourself free reign to push, abuse, over-praise, or cajole them to get where you want them to go. Its too bad you have to be horrible person to bring out the best in people.

      Who says you have to? There is definitely more than one way to skin a cat here.

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:22AM (#41557849)

      I never met, let alone worked for Steve Jobs, but I did have a teacher that outsiders might have described like this:

      "But he also spent many pages chronicling the arrogant, cruel behavior of a complicated figure who could inspire people one minute and demean them the next. According to the book, Jobs would often berate employees whose work he didn't like. He was notoriously difficult to please and viewed people and products in black and white terms. They were either brilliant or 'sh-t.'"

      (Substituting student for employee, and work for product. And note this was a teacher of adults, not children.)

      The outsider would be wrong in thinking that the teacher didn't care about his students - he wanted the best for them. It's that he taught Via Negativa, a pedagogical technique more common in continental Europe. That the way to get people to produce the best, original work is to heavily criticise that which is not good or average or unoriginal. Those without talent will fall by the wayside, but those with talent end up producing their best work.

      Those who have never experienced it, or who fell by the wayside, won't understand the rewards of working under this technique. But the proof is in the results.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        Well, you know what They say: those who can, do.

        Jobs also only had one talent that I could see: saying "No". Apple employed some brilliant people, and Jobs shitcanned the ones who weren't up to scratch.

        As They also say, it takes a dictator to make the trains run on time. <Godwinned>

        • Well, you know what They say: those who can, do.

          And what the saying misses out on is that teaching *IS* doing. Teaching is a skill that requires talent. There are good, bad and exceptional teachers. The same goes for leadership.

      • the proof is in the results

        The results? I have seen whole groups of graduate students run for the hills because their adviser treated them like this. I have seen bright people get so fed up that they give up on a research career and go work in industry. Perfectly capable people can become so demoralized that they forget whatever dreams they had, and turn their attention to getting paid large amounts of money to do boring or destructive work. I call that wasted talent, a result of uncontrolled, dehumanizing elitism that fails to

        • I have seen whole groups of graduate students run for the hills because their adviser treated them like this.

          First point worth marking is that not every harsh teacher is teaching Via Negativa. Most of them aren't. When done properly, students know that the criticism isn't of them as people, or of their work in general, but of the specific work that's been presented to the teacher at that point. Done right, the student knows the teacher cares for them and wants the best from them.

          I was not the only person who came out of that course a better engineer: everyone came out better, regardless of their talents or innate abilities.

          Right. That's the mainstream teaching ideal: for everyone to improve, to be better than they were. No child left behind and all that. And

    • Its too bad you have to be horrible person to bring out the best in people.

      It's a good thing that statement is false: you can bring out the best in people without being a horrible person. There is another management style, where a boss works with their employees to develop their skills and help them overcome their weaknesses. You can bring out the best in people without resorting to tyranny:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Miner [wikipedia.org]

    • by Trip6 (1184883)
      Mod parent up. This is EXACTLY Jobs' MO. All Jobs cared about was providing a positive user experience for the technology-ignorant masses. He fought tirelessly against engineers who worked hard inventing features to throw into products and thus were their champions, whether they added to the user experience or not. Look at all the devices where the engineers have too much control over product design and features - way over engineered and complicated, not designed with the user in mind, and nowhere near
      • If Jobs MO was to develop for the masses, why didn't he include USB and memory ports on the iPad? Why do you need an accessory add-on just to import photos?

        This is just one of the design choices that were made that makes it harder, not easier, for the masses. I don't doubt that his goal was a seamless user experience with a minimum of aggravation. However, his vision, which had no room for alternatives, got in the way of actually achieving this. Apple then had to either create, or allow the market to create

        • by Trip6 (1184883)
          There will always be individual gripes about product design tradeoffs. I have many about my Mac, not the least of which is that it cuts my wrists when I type on the damn thing. But the proof is in the pudding: Apple is the most valuable company in the world by making and selling electronic crap. It has to be doing something right.
    • Its too bad you have to be horrible person to bring out the best in people.

      You don't have to be a horrible person though you probably have to be a demanding one. Steve Jobs had a particular style that apparently was effective but it's not hard to find examples of people who have great success without the rough edges. Ghandi is a pretty good example of a guy who by most accounts was a pretty decent person and seemed to get the best of out of people. Being a leader requires you to ask things of people that they may not always want to do. You can persuade, cajole, order, demean,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 05, 2012 @07:58AM (#41557623)

    Since we couldn't find the road to Hell with our iPhone 5.

  • by Massacrifice (249974) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:14AM (#41557783)

    When Jobs died, he was compared to Edison and Henry Ford and to Disney

    These guys became popular because they provided something GOOD AND CHEAP to the masses - light, cars, culture. They weren't elitists, not did they try to create new churches (well maybe Disney). Jobs legacy will not endure as well as Gates, for he was never one to compromise in order to touch everybody. He created his own bubble and died within it. Had he had the clout to push his excellent design antics along with a all-american bargain price, then maybe he would have changed the world in a durable fashion. He just changed computer's GUIs.

    • Henry Ford wasn't an elitist?

      The reason Jobs has been compared to those three is that they all had a reputation for being horrible assholes in addition to (arguably) contributing valuable things to humanity. Ford was an honest to God Nazi, Disney was an employee abuser and McCarthyist, and Edison electrocuted animals to smear his opponents' technology.

      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday October 05, 2012 @09:18AM (#41558349) Homepage Journal

        Henry Ford wasn't an elitist?

        Dunno; here's what I do know about Ford:

        - he popularized the semi-automated assembly line, a technology which allowed mass production to significantly decrease the cost of durable goods.
        - he pretty much 'invented' the 40-hour work week; prior to Ford, most industry occupations were 12-16 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week.
        - He insisted on paying his employees well, citing that well paid workers are happy workers who both work harder, and purchase the products they themselves built, a win-win for Ford.

        In spite of all his faults, Henry Ford [wikipedia.org] was a true visionary deserving of the praise he receives; Jobs, on the other hand, was less a visionary and more a brilliant marketing guy... which is probably a feat all its own, but personally I don't hold marketing monkeys in very high regard.

        • by phorm (591458)

          I'm no fan of jobs... but
          Way back when, I bought an iPhone 3G. The alternative at the time was a blackberry.

          BB had a keyboard, but the screen, web-browser, and apps in general were shyte.
          Moreover, the iPhone could be rooted to install some pretty cool stuff. It had a decent touch-screen tech, and a bunch of apps (both on-market and in Cydia) which were useful to my lifestyle and profession. The design wasn't perfect: The lack of expandable storage capacity or removable battery pissed me off to no end, BUT I

    • These guys became popular because they provided something GOOD AND CHEAP to the masses - light, cars, culture.

      Err... I think somebody said it here before... Disney is to culture what playboy is to porn.

  • Really? Nobody? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by obijuanvaldez (924118)
    "Nobody has questioned Jobs' seismic impact on computing and our communication culture"

    Challenge accepted.

    Did he really change how many people use computers or how much influence those computers have in their lives or did he just change which brand of computer they purchased?
  • Move along (Score:4, Interesting)

    by damaki (997243) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:21AM (#41557835)
    Jobs has been dead for a year and I don't care. His being dead was news, but this is no news and totally uninteresting.
    Has any new line of text popped up in his biography? No.
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:22AM (#41557847)

    It was his complete sociopathic disregard for even those in his non-work life that was the problem. This was a guy who tried to deny his daughter's paternity, had an almost pathological hatred of charity (even ending all of Apple's charitable programs when he came back in the 90's), and routinely screwed over even friends and family for money.

    His problem wasn't that he was demanding or brutally honest at work. I can respect that. His problem is that he was a complete and total heartless asshole in every aspect of his life. And, if Marley was right, I imagine he's wearing a very ponderous chain indeed right now, made of tons of electronic junk that will be forgotten within a matter of years.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:43AM (#41558011)

      This was a guy who tried to deny his daughter's paternity, had an almost pathological hatred of charity (even ending all of Apple's charitable programs when he came back in the 90's), and routinely screwed over even friends and family for money.

      And Henry Ford was an anti-semite, Walt Disney was at least accused of being one too. Edison was a bigger jerk. He even electrocuted an elephant in an effort to spread FUD about the competition. A public legacy often ignores some very glaring faults: society is fairly willing to forgive and forget the details. After all, we're not remembering those people so much as we are remembering what they did for us.

      That said, the culture on the internet is more cynical than people are talking around the watercooler. If this discussion right here is any indication, Jobs may have come a little too late for his personal foibles to be similarly forgotten. In fact, thanks to The Oatmeal, there seems to be some going back and adding those negative details into Edison's legacy.

      • In fact, thanks to The Oatmeal, there seems to be some going back and adding those negative details into Edison's legacy.

        Edison will be remembered long after the Oatmeal is forgotten. The fight between Edison and Tesla is stupid. Everyone has bad traits, Washington, Jefferson, Mother Theresa, you, me. The amazing thing is those people overcame their bad traits and did something amazing. Whereas you and I have done nothing, and still have our bad traits.

        Negative traits are not interesting. They are mundane. Everyone has them. What is amazing is when someone overcomes them to do something great.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday October 05, 2012 @08:27AM (#41557897) Journal

    Gosh, I happen to like the program QI and Edison I learned from that program was a thief. Jeremy Clackson described Ford as someone about who nothing good could be said with Ford being an outright nazi and Disney is not much better.

    If that is supposed to be Jobs GOOD legacy bit, I hate to see what his BAD legacy is going to look like.

    The real legacy of these people is now after all that they didn't real do what they did, that what they did had already been done and that their personalities sucked.

    Jobs didn't invent the smartphone, he didn't invent the computer and if he had never been, tech would still have happened just with different logo's. There is a lesson in there, humanity is more then just a handful of names. And our advances happened at multiple times in multiple locations, it doesn't depend on ONE person. The one person type people are the ones who like to think in thousand year empires. I actually find it quite comforting that if X didn't introduce the phone, Y would have. I don't need fake heroes to look up to. Jobs was a prick and his legacy will either be that he made such a terror of himself that Apple failed immediately without him OR he made such a terror and when he died Apple did just fine without him.

    Either ending, he is still a prick. And what did it all get him? An early grave. If you wonder why I hate him? He sought out alternative medicine at the end, lending credibility to that evil which has seen the death of many.

  • When Jobs died, he was compared to Edison and Henry Ford and to Disney.

    That sounds about right to me. Those guys could be spectacular assholes, too.

  • by DavidinAla (639952) on Friday October 05, 2012 @09:10AM (#41558255)
    It surprises me that some people act shocked to find out about the negative parts of Steve Jobs' personality. Anybody who was even halfway paying attention for the past few decades knew about his dark sides. It's very common, of course, for great achievers to come with strong negatives, so it was no surprise. But even if you didn't understand that it's true in general, the specifics have been out there about Jobs for many, many years. He was a visionary genius (even if a lot of technical-minded people still don't understand that), but he was also very cruel, selfish and overbearing at times. The truth has been very clear for a long time. Those trying to make him just a hero OR just a villain are off track. He was far too complicated for either of those roles.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday October 05, 2012 @10:51AM (#41559453) Homepage

    Everybody seems to miss this, but many of Jobs' successes were because he was a movie studio head. He was also CEO of Pixar.

    Jobs didn't really run Pixar; Lassiter did. Jobs had the sense to leave the moviemakers alone. But being a studio head gave him enormous clout in Hollywood. This is what make the iTunes store possible.

    A successful music-delivery service required deals with the music industry. Others, notably Napster, had tried to put deals together, without success. But Jobs had a big advantage.

    Hollywood is very hierarchical. At the top of the hierarchy are studio heads. Everybody in Hollywood will take a call from a studio head. Including the music industry, which is outranked by the film industry. Jobs was in a position to call up the heads of record labels and talk to them as an equal, if not a superior.

    When iTunes started, Apple was nowhere; under 10% market share in computers and unknown in consumer electronics. It wasn't Apple's clout that made iTunes happen. It was Jobs' status as head of Pixar.

    Everything since then has been a logical extension of Apple's entry into the entertainment industry. The iPod provided a smaller unit for delivering iTunes content. The iPhone added features in the iPod form factor. Movies, then apps, were fitted into the distribution chain designed for music.

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