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Steve Jobs' Happiness

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When it comes to Steve Jobs people worry about a lot of things but no one ever thinks about whether he's happy. Of course no one really worries about Bill Gates either - but there are good reasons for that. For Bill Gates is not Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs is a man obsessed. He's always been this way. He has a forced way about him. A stilted way to walk, talk, and move. As if he's trying to prove something. That's the way it appears at any rate. Bill Gates doesn't seem to be trying to prove anything. Except perhaps to Thomas Penfold Jackson that he's pure as the driven snow. Bill Gates is an easier person. He's also a voracious money swallowing criminal. But he's easier.

A while back when Steve Jobs first had his bout with pancreatic cancer he gave a speech at Stanford. It was one of those speeches that can be life defining for those who listen. Steve Jobs may be the ultimate in secrecy when it comes to corporate affairs but personally he's brutally honest. Would that more people attained to the same level of honesty, the same level of courage.

Now he seems sick again. But the New York Times assure everyone he's not that sick. It's more than a common cold but it isn't life threatening. To Joe Nocera he said personally:

'You think I'm an arrogant asshole who thinks he's above the law and I think you're a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.'

But the media always get everything wrong so this is no exception.

Nocera went on to say Jobs' health was not the same as the health of any other CEO anywhere because Jobs is the most important CEO on the planet. And that's certainly true. And one might not agree with all his decisions - still one must not blame him for all the wrongs of his companies - but one has to recognise what he's done.

Steve Jobs has run two companies, one better than the other. Now head of a company he helped found, he was also the founder and main motor behind the seminal NeXT in the 1980s. The technology of this company is what keeps the other company - Apple - afloat today. It's the backbone of Apple's computer operating system and it's also the motor driving the iPhone.

This technology is completely unique. No one else has even come close to attempting to duplicate it, to emulate it. And the worse for them. It is this technology which for better or worse keeps Apple head and shoulders above the pack - above Microsoft and Open Sauce both. They can try all their fancy on screen doodads but they're all missing the point. As Jobs himself once quipped: 'they put the object orientation icing on the cake but they don't make an object oriented cake'. [Or more or less quipped at any rate - the meaning's the same.] And no one else has attempted to catch up.

It was the foresight and vision of Jobs which led him to found NeXT on the premises he used. That the upper echelon of industry people and technologies were not twice or three times better than the median but several hundred times better. He went out in the world to find the best of everything and bring it to his company. 'For the best - not the rest - of us' became the motto.

Jobs went to Carnegie Mellon and brought back Avie Tevanian and the MACH kernel. He went to Brad Cox and brought back Objective-C. He met with Jean-Marie Hullot and he got SOS Interface aka Interface Builder. And so forth. Always the best of the best. Always several hundred times better than the rest of the pack.

Resuscitating Apple hasn't been easy. Jobs doesn't agree with everything Apple do but he seems to know you can't get them to do everything. Apple are not the best of the best like NeXT but there is a lot of NeXT in Apple and Steve Jobs is in Apple. Word has it Jobs doesn't even agree on some user interface issues such as spatiality - if you want to blame Apple for bloopers you'll have to look elsewhere. Apple are a company who do things their way to a great extent, no matter what a CEO says about the matter.

Apple are in many ways a gadget company today - but what a gadget company. In the years since Jobs has taken the helm Apple have introduced the first iMac, the iPod, the titanium laptop, the indestructible G3 iBook, the aluminium laptop, the iPhone - the list is endless. And the gadgets Jobs introduces are always exciting.

The computer division of Apple might be waning with a single digit market share but the world of computing and technology is better off and more exciting with Jobs in the picture. He's driven - he's a man obsessed. He keeps his company afloat by always coming out with new gadgets. He has to - he's not a commodity the way Unix or Windows is. But he keeps coming out with the new gadgets. And he upsets all the bookies - to the point they don't even bother trying to bet against him anymore. AAPL stock is soaring all the while MSFT is hitting rock bottom.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates aren't true competitors. Theirs are different markets. But people do compare them and the germination of what people will write about them after they're gone has already begun.

Bill Gates is already despised. There are some good things about Microsoft and there are some good things about Windows but Bill Gates the man is already hated. And no amount of silly soulless charity work will change that.

Steve Jobs is loved. People might call him an asshole - he himself says he's an asshole - but that changes nothing. Think what you want about the way the man worked: he's a good man. He might not be a happy man but he's a man with goodness in his bone marrow. And he'll be remembered for that - and with love.

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