Steve Jobs: The Profit Prophet

I've poked fun at the cult of Steve Jobs over the years in multiple formats: print, radio and video. Nevertheless I did find myself tearing up for the tech profit/prophet when I heard he'd died.

I wasn't crying for the man himself, who I hardly knew. Sure, we had the occasional lunch where he'd seek my advice on launching new products. (Kidding! It was only breakfast.) But I was tearing up over the end of the Steve Jobs era that I was a part of.

Of Jobs' many talents, the most notable was his ability to make consumers feel they were a part of something larger than... well, consuming.

Jobs imbued Apple lovers with the sense they were part of a social movement. And that Jobs himself was their visionary leader -- a leader they knew, and cared about, personally.

If you google Steve Jobs you'll read all about how this genius started, not just a company, but a revolution. And he was a revolutionary: Jobs revolutionized the field of marketing.

In his Think Different ad, ("here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels") Jobs linked buying Apple products to both acts of transgression (by using images of people like Jimi Hendrix), and to acts of social protest (by using images of folks like Mahatma Gandhi).  

As I've covered tech over the past couple years and consumed the never-ending stream of glowing Steve Jobs profiles, I began to feel like people genuinely felt that what was good for Jobs was good for the world. And somehow, no matter how much Apple stock rose, Jobs maintained his image as the scrappy underdog fighting the corporate machine.

My colleague Kevin Ferguson sent me the following email today:

A friend of mine in SF pointed this out: "Half this city is protesting corporate greed while the other half is mourning the death of a corporate juggernaut." How many people in that crowd posted Jobs tributes on FB and Twitter yesterday?

Ah, but that was the genius of Jobs. He made you feel that to buy an Apple product was to protest corporate greed!