A small group of disruptive technologists and I spent the day yesterday in Ft. Myers, Fla. where we had the chance to dine at the Edison House. Pictures of Thomas Edison and friends donned the walls, and as we all reclined there, using our iPhones and iPads to communicate and demonstrate our visions, there was something very eerie about the whole experience. Edison's awarded patents (1,093) have touched all of our lives, and I'm certain that almost nothing we did yesterday could have happened as it did, had Mr. Edison not graced us with his presence (and vision).
On the drive back, some of us learned that Steve Jobs (230+ patents) was taking (another) leave of absence from Apple, again for health reasons. Foreign markets were reacting negatively to this third such event, and at the time I wrote this post, Apple stock is down close to 5%. Pundits and fans alike have started hypothesizing about the announcement's impact on future Apple devices (iPhone 5, iPad2), and the potential that Google and Microsoft could gain from Apple's loss.
Ironically, over the prior week I had begun working on today's column, with an eye to providing some personal insights into how Apple might innovate the TV space over the next 24 months. Candidly, most don't recognize the impact Apple has already had on the industry -- and it's something I hope to investigate a bit more over the coming weeks.
But for today, right now, it seems almost... disrespectful.
Steve Jobs and his family are going through something very difficult. His departure from Apple, to focus on his health and family, means that the corporate culture and creative energies that Apple afforded him are now no longer there to distract him from the task at hand. It's difficult for many of us to even stop and empathize with the human toll posed by a reoccurring, potentially lethal disease on anyone, let alone a billionaire technology celebrity.
To far too many, including myself, Steve Jobs, the human, had become Steve Jobs, the icon.
Despite anyone's personal feelings about Steve and Apple, it might be good for all of us to take a deep breath, pause a moment from the task at hand, and imagine what brother Steve is dealing with right now. Today.
Today provides us all with a timely opportunity to do something we have failed to do, far too often, when a true genius withdraws from public integration.
And that's to say, "Thank you."
Sure, much like the growing mindset we all have towards TV and the commercials that once subsidized the TV experience, the fact that many of us have paid for our Apple devices, just as we have seemingly paid for our TV services, seems to eliminate the need to say "Thank you." Indeed, many feel that no thanks are in order, particularly if we're not customers, or, if we are customers, when the price paid begrudgingly exceeded some internal value proposition.
But dollars do not thanks make, and a visionary's impact on culture far exceeds the boundaries of an invoice.
So, for the record, and from the heart: