From the earliest days Steve Jobs has tirelessly and continuously been molding Apple into a place where art meets form and technology. This romantic notion is still very much alive and embodied in the iconic products of today like iPad and iPhone, having especially become evident in Apple’s vision of tomorrow, the breathtaking (and incredibly expensive) Mothership spaceship campus. And Apple’s boss himself is being often deemed an artful storyteller and a masterful marketeer. You may have noticed how Jobs often wraps up his presentations with a huge street sign image depicting the intersection of Technology and Liberal Arts streets.
“We’re not just a tech company, even though we invent some of the highest technology products in the world. It’s the marriage of that plus the humanities and the liberal arts that distinguishes Apple”, Jobs remarked at the end of the iPhone 4 introduction last summer. The message is consistent with a recent iPad commercial entitled “We Believe”, but also jives well with the now 14-year-old Think Different advertising campaign.
What you may have not known is that Apple’s product philosophy, their design language, the marketing and communications strategies and the collective DNA all stem from a single focal point, a random event from the early days when the technology bug had bitten the two Steves in Jobs parents’ garage. Addressing staff and students recently after receiving an honorary doctorate from Concordia University in Montreal, Dr. Steve Wozniak let us in on a secret, telling this (mark 1:18):
The distinction between technology and humanoids. Who’s more important: Human or the technology? We had a gentleman, classical musician, that came to Apple to talk to Steve Jobs and myself in the garage. He told us that when you build a piece of technology you get to put a lot of work into it – software and hardware – to make it natural and obvious and easy to use for a human being. Then you have priced the human being at the top of the chain. If you simply put in every feature in the world and every ability and let the human being modify their normalness to learn how to use it, you place the technology higher, as the master, and the human being more as a slave. Obviously, we think of the way we don’t want the human being to be the slave, we want the human being to be the master. We want to build things around the human being as though it was the center of the universe.
The Woz also explained how the Newton MessagePad had been well designed because it followed the human thought process, why the technology and engineers will save the world and more…
This remarkable tidbit sheds more light on how Steve Jobs’ brain works and gives us better understanding of the principles that led Apple to create one of the most memorable contemporary objects of art, which happen to be the gadgets everyone’s lusting after. Yes, the marriage of the liberal arts and the humanities has served Apple exceptionally well thus far.
Guy Kawasaki, Apple’s former Macintosh evangelist and now a Silicon Valley investor, summed it up nicely in CNBC Titans’ unauthorized documentary of Steve Jobs that airs tonight at 9pm. He said in the show preview, embedded below (mark 0:48): “Apple I, Apple II, Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad… Who can say they created six things like that? No-one. No-one in the world”.