Last night, the 5th of October will be a night I’ll never forget. As a self confessed Apple fanboy, Mac fanatic and director general of the anti-PC brigade (computer not correctness), I never imagined that I’d be the one to announce on LBC 97.3 the death of Steve Jobs.
After battling pancreatic cancer and undergoing a liver transplant he’d taken medical leave from Apple at the start of the year. Steve’s health was of concern to all who never even knew him. The only glimpse of his personal life was the health issues that presented themselves physically in recent years. We cared about him, because through Apple, he cared about us.
The Apple creator, former CEO (until August 29th) and inspirational leader of the cult of Mac, was much more than just an I.T. company boss. Jobs was a revolutionary and a visionary, who knew things had to change and knew how to change things. From the early days of Apple Inc telling us to Think Different via their advertising, to the infamous keynote speeches where Steve would save the best announcement till last with his trademark ‘one more thing’, Apple revolutionised technology, did away with the user manual, made everything intuitive and made computers sexy.
Somehow Apple created a lifestyle brand that customers had an emotional relationship with. You’d never hear a Samsung user say he was popping home to work on his RV511 and make some calls on his Galaxy S2. But the sound of Apple consumers across the world referring to their Mac or iPhone as a living breathing member of the family was nothing short of normal. Normal and brilliant. It is precisely this that has made Apple the largest tech company in the world, with more money in the bank than even the US Federal Reserve.
I would go as far as to say that along with countless others, I’ve idolised Steve Jobs. His ethos, his mantra and his passion for quality. To me, it’s always been his love of delivering products that are not only visually perfect, but also work brilliantly. I felt, maybe naively, that Apple wasn’t interested in profit. I’d stay up late each quarter to watch the delayed stream of Steve Jobs on stage. I’d ride the wave of media speculation, and try and cut through the secrecy to predict the next product annoucement. I was almost always wrong, and I loved being surprised.
Like Willy Wonka, Steve Jobs worked his magic on a generation, changing the way we consume music, video and information. Remember what mobile phones were like before the iPhone? Apple brought us the stuff of science fiction and we lapped it up. His attention to detail was they key to the company’s financial success. I never begrudged paying Apple for anything. I stood in line for four hours to get iPhone 4, with men and women of all ages. We all knew a little something about each other. We all knew a little about Steve Jobs. We all knew why we were there.
When Tim Cook took over as acting CEO recently we didn’t want to admit to ourselves that Steve Jobs was not getting better. Last night, seeing his death, aged just 56, appear on the news wires from the studio of LBC 97.3, and knowing that it was my job to announce it to Londoners was one of the toughest moments of my career. For those of us who cared, it was a Princess Diana moment. We will never forget where we were the night Steve Jobs passed peacefully away.