Steve Jobs’s Legacy: The Best Answers to the Most Important Question

Remember all the predictions from members of the technorati that the iPad would fail? It didn’t have a file system, or a camera, or a USB port, or lots of other things apparently critical to the success of a tablet computer. It didn’t do enough. It was a toy, suitable only for kids or passive, bovine consumers.

It’s sold over 25 million units. It’s safe to say that Steve Jobs was right and his detractors wrong.

This has been the pattern over and over again at Apple during Jobs’s tenure as CEO, which was just ended. His extraordinary success has a number of sources, which we’ll be analyzing for some time to come. Today I want to highlight just one thing that he and his company got right over and over, while the great majority of the tech industry continues to get it wrong.

Jobs and Apple have done the best job of answering with their products the question posed by wiki inventory Ward Cunningham: What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work? As I’ve stressed before, most technologists / nerds / geeks don’t think this way —  they think that success comes from cramming in features and functions, bells and whistles.

This is not what non-geeks want. They want the simplest things that could possibly work, and Apple under Jobs has been by far the best technology company at supplying such things. Judging from the lack of competition, it must be incredibly hard to do.

I have no potential conflicts of interest here. I’ve never taken a dime from Apple, and have come down pretty hard on the company for a privacy flaw I discovered. But I’ve also been a staunch defender of Apple and its products and policies because they have given huge numbers of people what they wanted. Which is simple things that work.

I hope more technologists, at Apple and elsewhere, will carry on this great tradition.

What do you think Jobs’s main legacy will be? Are you with me that it’s highlighting the virtues of simplicity, or do you think it’s something else? Leave a comment, please, and let us know.