Steve Jobs: Imitated, Never Duplicated
David Pogue OCTOBER 6, 2011
Wednesday evening, Apple broke the news that Steve Jobs had died.
Since that moment, tributes, eulogies and retrospectives have poured over the world like rain. He changed industries, redefined business models, fused technology and art. People are comparing him to Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Leonardo da Vinci. And they're saying that it will be a very long time before the world sees the likes of Steve Jobs again.
Probably true. But why not, do you suppose?
After all, there are other brilliant marketers, designers and business executives. They're all over Silicon Valley - all over the world. Many of them, maybe most of them, have studied Steve Jobs, tried to absorb his methods and his philosophy. Surely if they pore over the Steve Jobs playbook long enough, they can re-create some of his success.
But nobody ever does, even when they copy Mr. Jobs's moves down to the last eyebrow twitch. Why not?
Here's a guy who never finished college, never went to business school, never worked for anyone else a day in his adult life. So how did he become the visionary who changed every business he touched? Actually, he's given us clues all along. Remember the "Think Different" ad campaign he introduced upon his return to Apple in 1997?
"Here's to the crazy ones. The rebels. The troublemakers. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius."
In other words, the story of Steve Jobs boils down to this: Don't go with the flow.
Steve Jobs refused to go with the flow. If he saw something that could be made better, smarter or more beautiful, nothing else mattered. Not internal politics, not economic convention, not social graces.
Apple has attained its current astonishing levels of influence and success because it's nimble. It's incredibly focused. It's had stunningly few flops.