I came away from this book totally convinced that Jobs was one of the great visionaries of the 20th century. That's not to say that I think Jobs was a moral man....far from it. He was a total asshole to most people (including to his closest friends, apparently). I'm absolutely amazed that all those years of Zen training and Hindu spirituality--that he obviously took quite seriously--made absolutely no impact on the way he dealt with other human beings.
What impresses me about Jobs is that, in an age where people are content to mass produce crap solely for the sake of profit, he was motivated primarily by an exquisite aesthetic sensibility that drove him to create beautiful, well-made products that people loved to use.
I remember when I got my first Ipod about seven years ago. From the moment I opened the box (which itself was a thing of beauty) and saw the black shiny device, I was madly in love. And unlike the Microsoft products that I had formerly used, which were so damned buggy, the Ipod always worked like a dream, synching perfectly with the extensive music collection I had on my computer. The Ipod wasn't just a toy, it was a work of art.
There's so much more I could say about Jobs and this book. Instead, I'd encourage you to read it for youself and form your own impression.
FROM STEVE JOBS BY WALTER ISAACSON:
The people who invented the 21st century were pot smoking, sandal-wearing hippies from the West Coast…, because they saw differently….The sixties produced an anarchic mind-set that is great for imagining a world not yet in existence. (Bono, quoted in Steve Jobs)
I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking. People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I want them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they are talking about don’t need Powerpoint.
Some people say, ‘Give the customers what they want.’But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’” People don’t know what they want until you show them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.
You always have to keep pushing to innovate. Dylan could have sung protest songs forever and probably made a lot of money, but he didn’t. He had to move on, and when he did, by going electric in 1965, he alienated a lot of people….The Beatles were the same way. They kept evolving, moving, refining their art. That's what I’ve always tried to do—keep moving. Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.