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BW Businessworld

Someone You Know

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"It's like someone you know, personally, has died," said an Apple fan. And that's exactly what millions of people are thinking today. The incomparable, irreplaceable Steve Jobs has gone, and even though his battle with cancer has been known of for many years, his death comes as no less a shock and he leaves no less a chasm behind. Everyone feels a connection.

The world of technology will probably never see someone remotely like Steve Jobs ever again. And I rather think that to the modern world, he is every bit a Mozart or a Beethoven, making something of a work art of the products that were created at Apple. Over the years, we've known Jobs to be arrogant, autocratic, rude or just plain off his head. But we also know that the same traits fueled his conviction and the sheer unshakeable self-knowledge that he was right in whatever he did and that was the only way he was going to do it. Mix that with genius. Mix that with mystery. And you have the weird and wonderful Steve Jobs. Except that now, we don't, and something has changed forever.

Being rather travel shy, I never attended an Apple event. I'm sure if I had, I would have been even more deeply saddened by Jobs' passing away than I am from my corner across the world from a country which wasn't terribly important on Apple's world map. The loss feels personal because, like no one else, Jobs has managed to get Apple to give us product after product designed to be ‘humanly". With the people he'd collected around him and the unwavering vision he led them with, even if was a tyrant,  Jobs took product design to the level where it created a worldwide cult. It's not just about the clean lines and sensuality of the build of Apple's devices: it's about their usability. And that is how Steve Jobs has changed all of our lives and is with us in some way all the time.

From the day I had in my hands my new black and red U2 version of the iPod so many years ago, I was inseparable from it. Many iPods late, I'm inseparable from many Apple devices, not the least of which is my iPad. That's when I consider myself a fan of no company in particular – not even Apple. But when I lose myself in a safe, beautiful world of just me and music, that's Steve Jobs. When I find to my amazement that I can see on the iPad, things I can't any longer in print, that's Steve Jobs. When I spend hours absorbed with playing with photographs on my MacBook, that's Steve Jobs. A Twitter-mate couldn't have put it better when he said that somehow, every Apple device has a Steve Jobs soul.

When I see a Steve Jobs bio or timeline, I invariably find facts that make me gasp in surprise. What a life, and what an impact on lives. But what was Nature thinking! This was no ordinary person.