Steve Jobs in Carbonite

on May 29, 2012

Photo of Steve Jobs with iPhonePart of Steve Jobs’s brilliance in life was his mercurial nature, sometimes fortified by duplicitousness. He thought an Apple phone was the stupidest idea on earth until the arrival of the iPhone. He made fun of Intel processors  until Apple abandoned PowerPC for x86. He was a man of firmly held opinions that could change as circumstances required.

Steve Jobs dead, however, is frozen in time. The opinions he expressed in the year or two before his passing last fall are his views forever. And anything Apple does counter to those views is treated in some quarters as a desecration of his memory. And that leads to silly pieces like Gizmodo’s 10 Changes That Must Have Steve Jobs Spinning in His Grave.

The sad truth is that we have no idea what Steve Jobs thinks, or will ever think, about anything. All we know is what he thought of certain things under the circumstances that prevailed at some point in the past.

For example, in October,  2010, Jobs said: “The reason we [won’t] make a 7-inch tablet isn’t because we don’t want to hit that price point, it’s because we think the screen is too small to express the software.” But improvements in screen technology have made it possible to do a 7″ iPad with the same 1024×768 resolution of the original iPad and the iPad 2 and a pixel density similar to the third-generation iPad. So if Apple does a 7″ iPad, will that be a repudiation of Jobs or a recognition that something important has changed?

One of Gizmodo’s 10 violations of the spirit of Jobs is that supply executives are now attending meetings once the exclusive province of engineers and designers. Maybe that reflects Tim Cook’s preferences as a supply chain guru. But it might also reflect the fact the Apple is nearly 60% bigger than it was when Jobs stepped away from active management a year or so ago and that it now a vast enterprise that necessarily has to be run in a considerably more bureaucratic way. This, by the way, is why I think Cook is actually the right CEO at the right time; some of use remember a  much smaller pre-Cook Apple that constantly struggled with supply chain and channel management issues.

Of course, it’s possible that Jesus Diz’s Gizmodo post was just Gawker link bait. In which case, I apologize for linking to it.