Today's Smartphone Design Is Jobs' Creation

By Channel Insider Staff  |  Print this article Print

News Analysis: Steve Jobs changed everything. "Think Different," the Apple poster said. Now we need to remember Jobs' lesson: to keep dreaming, imagining and innovating.

I saw my first Mac a couple of months later. The 9-inch screen was in black and white. The computer was slow even by the standards of 1984. The computer I'd built in 1982 was a lot faster and it ran CP/M and WordStar, and that allowed me to write my articles for Byte and Interface Age and other magazines that are now long gone. But it was clear that the Mac was something new and different, and those of us who wrote about computers at the time knew that we might be seeing the future.

That was confirmed when Microsoft shipped its first version of Windows and when X-Windows first arrived on Unix. In those days, X-Windows was by far the best OS, but nobody but big companies and universities could afford the hardware that it ran on.

Still, it was obvious in those days that Jobs was producing innovations that others would have no choice but to follow. Even when Apple was in turmoil in those days, kicking Steve out of his position as CEO, effectively driving him out of the company and hiring a parade of non-visionaries to run Apple, the innovation continued, albeit at a slower rate. But still, somewhere, deep down inside, Apple created the ideas that everyone else had to match.

Jump now to today. On the day after Apple introduced the iPhone 4S, the man who imagined what a mobile phone should look like has died. And make no mistake all of those Android and Windows smartphones out there owe their basic concept to Apple. If the iPhone hadn't been launched with a basic rectangular shape, a touch screen, the ability to sense its position in space, and user-chosen applications and entertainment, the rest of the mobile world probably wouldn't have moved that way either. These days, the iPhone which sprung from the fertile imagination of Steve Jobs appears in many forms from many companies.

So when you take your Samsung or HTC or Motorola phone out of your pocket, remember that the basic design came from Jobs. It was he who created the slim, rectangular, almost black communicator. Whether the design was based on the best format for watching movies or one that worked well for thumb-typing, or whether it was mimicking the Monolith in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey isn't clear, but it obviously resonated with the public. The phones sold in numbers so vast that they could define success or failure of a wireless company.

This is not to suggest that Apple found commercial success in everything it did, nor does it mean that the innovative designs fostered by Jobs met with universal success, because they didn't. But Jobs was so consistently successful in driving innovation in the world of technology that it's hard to see who might replace him. It's even harder to know how the industry will move on without the likes of Steve Jobs to come up with another insanely great idea when one is badly needed.

Goodbye, Steve. I have no idea what we're going to do without you. 

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Steve Jobs Taught Us to Keep Searching for the Insanely Great Idea