In the week that Alex Gibney’s‘Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine’ hits cinemas and Apple is about to have one of the huge events that Steve Jobs turned into a modern media phenomenon, it’s hard not to think about tech’s greatest ever pitch man.
I never got to meet Steve Jobs. The closest I got was seeing him in an Apple Store, from a distance, a thin exclamation mark of a man in black, surrounded by a phalanx of security and Apple PR.
But, if you care about technology and what Jobs himself called the “intersection of technology and the liberal arts,” then you’ll have an opinion on Steve Jobs. Loving tech and not having a view on him is like being an American football fan and not having a take on Tom Brady.
The cliché has long been “don’t hate the player, hate the game,” but in the case of Jobs, the player and the game were unavoidably linked.
Jobs was the voice, the face, the spirit of Apple – for good and for ill – so much so that there’s a version of the ‘Here’s to the crazy ones…’ advert with him reading the copy.
However, outside his family, outside his friends, outside his close colleagues, people are simply talking about a sliver of Steve Jobs, making him a mirror for what they feel about technology, society and, most of all, Apple.
Jobs’ office remains as a memorial to him at Cupertino. It’s clear that while he told Tim Cook to follow his own path as the new CEO of Apple, the quietly spoken but decisive boss still thinks of Steve often. Jobs is still Apple’s north star.
And as an observer of Apple – I’ve watched every keynote and event since 2005 – whenever the lights go down in an auditorium and a figure strides onstage in front of an Apple logo, I still half expect to see Jobs.
The force of his performances and presence in the world was such that he echoes around any Apple event and, for many, the world in general. Wherever you see that glowing Apple logo or an iPhone in someone’s hand, there’s a little bit of Steve Jobs.
On Wednesday, whatever the noise, fury and fun around a set of new Apple products, there’ll still be hundreds of tweets and Facebook messages dropping Jobs’ name – either as evidence he’d have hated what the company he created is doing or saying he’d have loved it.
In death, as in life, Steve Jobs is more than a man – he’s a symbol, an icon, a devil and a saint.