I don't have much to add to the deluge of memories, tributes, slights, and commentary unleashed by the untimely passing of Steve Jobs this past week. But I did have opportunity last year to take part in one of those product-debut extravaganzes that Jobs excelled in arranging.
When Jobs announced the iPad, I was underwhelmed. Computer manufacturers had been trying to sell tablet computers since the early '80's, when Radio Shack sold its TRS-80 laptop as a tablet. Now Apple was going to be selling what appeared to be an iPod touch with an overactive pituitary gland. I had a laptop, a netbook, and an iPod Nano, not to mention a Nook ereader. I did not need an iPad.
Yet as I heard more about this device, I became convinced that it could help me in my work. I was most impressed by the prognostications of how the device could handle large pdf documents, such as the transcripts I often used in my legal work. I decided to use the honorarium from one of my legal writing projects to buy the base model of the iPad.
I therefore reserved one of the iPads for purchase. And although I could have had the device delivered to me at home, I decided to reserve it for pickup at the Apple Store in Century City. Why not take advantage of some hands-on assistance with the iPad, if I needed it.
And then I decided, since the launch was on a Saturday, why not bicycle over to Century City and be there when the store opened? I was not falling victim to marketing, I convinced myself. It was only practical. If I got there early, I could pick up my iPad and have the rest of the day to familiarize myself with it.
No, I told myself as I stood in line early one Saturday morning in April 2010, I was not getting swept up in the excitement of the product launch. This was simply the opportunity to get involved in a cultural event.
And then, the doors of the store opened. And I shot the scene on my cellphone (not an iPhone, thank you) video camera:
No, no excitement at all.
Since that day, I've used my iPad for business. And pleasure. And just about everyday.
Jobs excelled in revealing to the world that it absolutely had to have devices it had no idea it needed. Will his successors be able to pull that off? We'll see.