By Bob Schiers, President and Founder of RAS Associates Public Relations, LLC
It was no secret that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was seriously ill. Reports of his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer were part of the news for several years. His day-to-day condition was shrouded in near secrecy. Most news reports amounted to nothing more than pure speculation about his condition and long-term prognosis. That was due in large part to Jobs’ and most likely Apple’s desire to keep his medical condition as private as possible. That was no small task given the love the world shared for Jobs, as well as the more practical and somewhat seamy side of things, Apple’s bottom line.
Such was Job’s vision and leadership that Apple became the single wealthiest corporation in the world, trading market rankings with the likes of giants like Exxon-Mobile and Wal-Mart, flush with billions in cash. So it was reasonably understandable that Apple had a lot at stake in terms of keeping Job’s medical condition as quiet as possible. I can’t fault them for that.
That said, when I heard of Job’s passing last evening, I was torn with mixed emotions as I watched news outlet after news outlet pay homage to one of the greatest minds of our time. Torn at the loss of a technological and marketing genius. And equally torn by all the pundits who lauded Jobs’ genius. Torn because many of them were the same ones who just a few years ago tried their best to bury Jobs and Apple Computer in the 1990’s.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t for one second think anyone is insincere in praising Jobs in the time of his passing. What bothers me, and what makes me bitter is that so many of those who are quick to praise him today were rabid in their efforts to destroy Apple Computer and with it, Jobs’ singular vision for a better way for the world to embrace technology.
Without naming names, I’ve watched one so-called expert after another praise Jobs on network newscasts since his passing. Many of them are the same folks who trashed Apple (and later, Macintosh) as “toy computers” and “make pretend devices” that were incapable of being used for business. Therein lies Jobs’ true genius – he alone recognized the absurdity of “corporate computing” and set out to create computers and devices that were consumer-friendly… computers and software for the masses – totally unthinkable at the time. And the single greatest reason why most of us have vastly better computers and other hardware in our homes than we do in our offices. Thanks Steve.
Jobs and Apple (Apple Computer back then) faced an epic uphill battle in the 80’s and 90’s – a battle first waged from his parents’ garage with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. His opponents? None other than the likes of IBM and Microsoft, as well as a jaded PC-friendly trade media that did more then its fair share to bash, trash and nearly destroy Jobs and Apple Computer. Why? I can only speculate and offer my opinion. First, the obvious… MONEY. IBM and Microsoft recognized early on that Apple was a formidable foe and they spent themselves silly combating Apple at every turn. Second, and less obvious, was a campaign waged by those businesses so deeply entrenched in PC hardware and software that they were in a near panic at the thought of having to dump billions of dollars worth of “hard-to-use” DOS based hardware and software in favor of buying the fast emerging MAC OS (operating system), which was (and is) vastly superior and easier to use than any PC OS. Hence, my bitterness.
I’ll elaborate… I’m annoyed by the legions of “Apple Newbies” who just a few years ago used to mock me (and the “relative handful” of thousands of Apple/Mac loyalists) for using Apple products. They would sneer and say things like, “Why don’t you get a real computer?” or “That thing is useless for business” while I would argue back that they were dead wrong. What they failed to realize was that they were BRAINWASHED by big businesses that didn’t DARE want to “re-hardware” and “re-software” their companies – it would cost them billions. But big business ignored one critical piece of the puzzle – PRODUCTIVITY! Steve Jobs was busy creating computers (and later, other devices) that EVERYONE could use – and use them easily and effectively. Meanwhile, Big Blue and Big M were busy scrambling with ways to try to make their clunky (okay CRAPPY) operating systems more ‘Mac-Like” while their (yes, I hate to admit it) PR machines were doing their damndest to convince people that Apple and Macs were inferior…. no, wait a minute… DEAD.
But something happened along the way. People like me, one of just several hundred thousand diehard Mac loyalists, who in Apple’s darkest hours, NEVER gave up on the original “Rainbow Apple” machines of the 80’s and early 90’s. Mac User Groups (MUGS) like the one I belonged to NEVER stopped believing in Apple, NEVER stopped preaching about Apple’s superior features, NEVER stopped debating with brainwashed PC-addicts that the Mac OS was vastly superior and vastly easier to use than ANY PC operating system. I was never MAC FANATICAL but I was always honest with myself about Apple/Mac. One of my favorite ways to try to convert the brainwashed PC legions was to acknowledge that yes, at the end of the day, they are both just computers, and in the end, they do much the same thing. But then I’d get them with my clincher… “If we both have to dig a ditch and you use a spoon (i.e., a PC) and I use a steam shovel (i.e., a MAC) we’ll both have dug a ditch at the end of the day – but it will be a whole lot easier, and get this, a whole lot more fun, using a Mac. Another analogy I used with great success to convert those on the dark side to come over to Apple/Mac was to say, “Here’s a PC and here’s a Mac” and then throw a phonebook on the table and say “this is the PC Manual” and then toss a tissue on the table and say “this is the Mac manual – which do you want to use?” It worked every time! Macs are just that simple to use. After all, who wants to work hard at working?
We Mac loyalists can take comfort in the fact that we helped Apple survive. We enabled it to live on through the lean years when Steve was ousted by his very own. We enabled Apple to survive long enough for Steve to return and rewrite history.
What galls me most are the “Apple Bashers” of the past who now pretend they never had a bad thing to say about Apple. I call them ‘The Rotten Apples.” To me, they’re like the worst of the worst reformed smokers, with their “holier than thou” attitudes about how great Apple is. How fast they forgot how they bashed and mocked Apple loyalists for not being “PC” people – and I don’t mean politically correct! More than one of them tried to embarrass me in meetings when I’d break out my Apple Newton (an ingenious precursor to ALL handheld devices including the iPad) telling me to “put my toy away.” I guess if there’s any kind of silver lining in their past anti-Apple rhetoric, it’s that they finally get it. Good for them.
Despite the millions of dollars spent by the PC crowd (companies, developers and consumers alike) to destroy Apple, they FAILED.
Given that I’ve invested more than $100,000 in Apple/Mac hardware and software since 1984, I PROUDLY take a fraction of the credit for Apple’s survival. So too should the thousands of other other Apple/Mac loyalist. We NEVER walked away from Apple and we NEVER bashed a Mac user. In return, we’ve been rewarded with the greatest computer and technology products the world has ever seen. Products like the iPod, the Mac computer, the iPhone, the iPad, Apple Airport Networking, and countless other cool items that are EASY and FUN to use.
I for one will truly miss Steve Jobs. Not because he made cool stuff – because he no longer can.
Rest in peace Steve, rest in peace.