Tom Junod on the future death of Steve Jobs

Whoa. Esquire just published a 5-page piece on Steve Jobs’ cancer written by the inimitable Tom Junod. Here’s a huge snip:

Like the iMac, the iBook was designed not to be an instrument of utility but an object of desire; like the iMac, it was designed to be a pleasure both to look at and to use; like the iMac, it was designed to be designed, and by introducing it a year after he introduced the iMac and two years after coming back to Apple, he made it clear that he was not going to play the same game as those whose idea of technological innovation was beholden to the number of transistors that could fit on an integrated circuit. Instead, he redefined technological innovation altogether. Unable to compete with the PC on the terms of Moore’s Law — on the basis of increased power and decreased price — Jobs went around it, by extending its evolutionary expectations to the realm of design. Let the Windows-Intel revolution grind forward in its pursuit of predictable exponential advantage: Henceforth, Jobs would make an art of topping himself and only himself; henceforth, Jobs would make an art of arousing expectations only his products could satisfy; henceforth, Jobs would prove so successful at defining technological innovation in terms of design criteria that he succeeded at casting doubt on technology that was not, well, beautiful. He would do this, and he would do this again and again, and he would do this forevermore in the uniform he introduced when he introduced the iBook.

At the 1999 keynote, Apple — after offering the iMac in a choice of five colors at a time when desktop computers were no color at all — was offering the iBook in a choice of tangerine and blueberry. So it made sense for Jobs to put on the black mock turtleneck, the blue jeans, the New Balances. But then he never took them off. He never wore anything else. Two years later, he wore them to introduce the iPod; six years after that, he wore them to introduce the iPhone. The decision to give himself no decisions, the choice to deprive himself of choices, turned out to be final. Apple’s product line would evolve; Jobs would not, preferring to cast himself as the mere conduit by which Apple’s products made their way into the world.

Damn, Jimmy: Steve is making mini-Steves, each one better than the last. Either you read in the self-realization of SJ’s own mortality and the desire to “build” or you read in SJ’s self-aggrandizement – a Silicon Valley Tomb of Croesus. Either way, Junod points out that Steve defines Apple which, without him, would just be another hardware company.

He then goes on to look at Jobs through the adoption lens, pointing out that Jobs’ parents gave him up and that his drive comes from the need to return to his physical beginnings, that his work is some sort of strange oral stage in entrepreneurialism.

Jobs is greedy, all right, though what he’s greedy for is something ineffable, compared with what Gates was greedy for. Jobs’s greed is the greed of the foundling in the nursery, the greed to be in control when his only power is the power to be chosen.

Go, friends, and read Tom’s profile. If you’re not a Mactard, you’ll come to understand how a bunch of bloggers and design nerds came to love Apple products. Trying to write this story about Bill Gates is like writing lyric poetry about a Turing Machine – the story isn’t the same nor does it have the same pathos.