Steve Jobs: Thief of Ideas or Genius?
Throughout his 55 years of life, Steve Jobs received dozens of accusations for fraud, plagiarism, and labor exploitation.
Was Steve Jobs really a genius or just someone who made money by taking advantage of the talent of others?
Steve Jobs and his life as an entrepreneur have been the subject of many discussions around the world. On the one hand, some admire him and are inspired by his legacy; but, on the other hand, some condemn him for having resorted to questionable practices to achieve many of the objectives he set for himself.
And, although it is true that many of the major innovations developed by his company were not totally conceived or created by him, Jobs was a visionary and was in charge of directing all the projects, contributing ideas, and setting a clear goal for those who would be in charge of the execution.
How Steve Jobs Changed the World
Next, we will do a retrospective in the life of this great entrepreneur, to analyze the key moments in which Steve Jobs’ vision ended up materializing a concept that managed to change the world.
1. The beginning of personal computers
Before Apple, computers were the size of a room and only specialized personnel could manipulate them. Steve Jobs understood that bringing them closer to ordinary we work, allowing us to be more efficient and productive. With this purpose in mind, he joined Steve Wozniak, who was working on developing one of the first personal computers in history, which was launched in the year 1976 under the name Apple I.
This computer had a microprocessor, which made it much more powerful and versatile than its competitors, which used transistors. A year later they would launch the Apple II to the market, the first microcomputer produced on a large scale.
But Steve’s vision to revolutionize the world with personal computing didn’t stop there. In 1983the Apple, Lisa would see the light, the second computer with a graphical interface, and that, in addition, included a mouse.
Jobs is constantly being singled out for stealing the idea for this innovation from Xerox, which had previously invited him to see a project with similar components. However, their strategy was not to directly copy the project but to hire former members of the Xerox team to work on the development of the Apple Lisa.
Later, in 1984, the Apple Macintosh was released, which was well received by the public for its price and features, which were an evolution of the previous computer designed by Apple.
The world was no longer the same. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Apple had been tasked with starting the personal computer revolution.
2. Computer animation
In 1985, due to a series of bad management decisions, Apple’s board of directors decided to fire Steve Jobs from the company that he had founded. With a capital of $5 Million, he acquired a company belonging to LucasFilms, which was dedicated to the production of computer special effects for the Star Wars films.
This is how Pixar was born, which, although today it is one of the benchmarks in terms of animation cinema, at that time it was dedicated to the sale of high-end computer hardware. Its main client was Disney Studios, who acquired the Pixar Image Computer to speed up the coloring process in their 2D animations.
It was Jhon Lasseter, one of the company’s employees, who developed a series of animations to show the power of the computer that Pixar sold. Jobs, seeing the potential of computer animation, put Pixar’s Hardware division up for sale in 1990.
Later it would close a negotiation with Disney Studios for $26 million to produce three animated films. Thus was born “Toy Story”, the first 3D animated feature film, a film that would change the world of cinema. Although Jobs did not participate in said production, he did have the vision to bypass Pixar’s Hardware department and focus only on animation.
In 2006, Disney Studios acquired Pixar for more than $ 7 billion, making Jobs the largest individual shareholder in Walt Disney Studios, with 7% of the company’s shares.
The entertainment industry had started a new era with computer animations as protagonists thanks to the vision of Steve Jobs.
3. The era of digital music
In 2000 the music industry had been impacted by the fact that Napster facilitated the dissemination of music files in digital formats; however, the computers of the Apple company did not have any program that could play mp3 files. Steve, who had returned to the company to run it again, decided to acquire the rights to the SoundJam software from young developers.
The program, which was developed for Mac Os, was improved and renamed to become iTunes. The platform was launched in 2001 and was compatible with all the company’s computers. The most common use of its users was to manage music files on their portable music players.
Jobs, realizing that iTunes was not very compatible with these devices, decided that Apple should create its own portable MP3 player. Together with one of his engineers, he made a trip to Japan and acquired the materials for the creation of the iPod.
Later, he left the leadership of the project in the hands of Tony Fadell, although he would also contribute ideas for the creation of the device.
The iPod became a cultural trend among young people. It represented a lifestyle and an identity; It was something exclusively for cool people and the million-dollar sales of the product confirmed it.
As iPod sales increased, Steve decided to focus his efforts on the digital music industry. Record companies were looking for a way to distribute their songs digitally. Jobs had the idea of creating a virtual store to market songs in MP3 format for $1 and that these would be easily transferred to the more than 1 million iPods sold until then. He began to negotiate with record companies to convince them of the potential of this new business model, and although it was not an easy task, he managed to sign an agreement with the 5 biggest record labels of the time.
Thus, in 2003 the iTunes Store was launched with more than 200 thousand songs available. 5 days after its release, Apple sold more than 1 million songs. The business model was successful and completely changed the way music was sold until then.
4. Mobile computing
With the advent of mobile data networks, Jobs thought about integrating them into the next model of iPod, a device that was a total success in sales and that had evolved to have a touch screen, the ability to play video and play games. This is how the iPhone was born, a project that Steve once again left in the hands of Tony Fadell.
The concept of the phone, which had a wheel like the first Ipods, began to develop until it reached an internal debate in the company about whether the device should have a touch screen or use a keyboard, like the famous cell phones of the Blackberry brand, which were very popular at that time.
But Jobs, obsessed with the idea that it had a touch screen to provide a better user experience, went to extreme measures, threatening to fire the employees who were in favor of the keyboard; thus, his concept ended up in the final design.
In 2007 the iPhone was released, which would mark a revolution in the development of SmartPhones. It sold 6 million units in just one year of manufacture. Today, this peculiar invention allows many people to have the phone with the power of the computer in their pockets, from which they can surf the Internet, communicate and use applications of all kinds.
Seeing the great reception of the iPhone, Steve Jobs thought that its users might need more tools for the daily use of the device, thus the idea of a virtual store was born where any developer could publish and sell their applications for iPhone or iPod Touch devices.
In 2008, the AppStore was launched on the market, which had a catalog of 500 third-party applications, of which 128 were free. The first weekend more than 10 million application downloads were made from the store, opening the way to a new business model that today moves billions of dollars around the world.
Steve Jobs and Apple had redefined the smartphone and mobile app industry.
5. His latest legacy
Before working on the iPhone, Steve Jobs had come up with the idea of a smart device that would have the functionalities of the iPod Touch, but with a larger screen and greater hardware capacity so that users could surf the Internet and read. books or newspapers with ease.
However, this idea was in the background when the work of the iPhone began and after its great reception in the market, so it would take 3 years to develop the concept. In 2011 Jobs makes the official presentation of the iPad, a device that had the capabilities of a laptop and the accessibility of an iPhone. This would reaffirm the pillars of mobile and simple computing, which the iPhone had laid. In 3 months, more than 3 million units were sold.
The device was a complete success and marked a before and after in the way people access the Internet, which forced websites to adapt their pages to mobile devices, in addition to revolutionizing sectors such as education, bringing Internet to people who had never had access to technology.
At this moment it may seem normal for you to watch this video from your Tablet or Cellphone, but this would not be possible without the great legacy of mobile computing powered by the man who thought that bringing the computer closer to the common people, could change our lives by enabling us to be more efficient and productive.
As we can see, despite not being the material inventor, Jobs was undoubtedly a genius who guided ideas to turn them into revolutionary products and concepts. His genius was not in creating technology, but in understanding people and offering them products that exceeded their expectations. His obsession with design and user experience redefined the rules of the game in various industries, thus setting trends that persist to this day.
Do you think Steve Jobs was an idea thief or was he a true revolutionary genius? Let us know your opinion in the comments.