Fame & Innovation
AP English Language and Composition
31 January 2020
Fame & Innovation
There is one man whose career has defined what fame is to me. By all accounts, Steve Jobs was rude, brilliant, stubborn, innovative, and most importantly, a fantastic marketer. His brand and image was selfmade in a field often associated with boring statistics and confusing jargon. Up until Jobs, the technology industry was dominated by engineers and scientists aiming to innovate computing for usage in other fields. Consumer electronics entering people’s homes was an inevitability due to the potential computing presented, but when it did, it did so in an industry still driven by academics. Designs were clunky, the verbiage was verbose, and marketing was nonexistent. Jobs, however, recognized potential where the academics weren’t concerned; to him, computers should be able to tell the story of the moon, and whether or not they could send anyone there was irrelevant.
One moment in time that I’m frequently drawn to was his unveiling of the iPhone. During his Keynote, he dedicates every slide to arguing a critical flaw with contemporary phones, pointing out the issues most had never thought of, yet had subconsciously disliked—the clunky keyboard inputs and unnavigable user interfaces being the most prevalent problems. Throughout the entire presentation, Jobs relied on showing what the iPhone wasn’t, not what it was. Innovation is not about the details, such as what languages something supports or how many colors it comes in. Innovation is about change, and focusing on the change itself proved to consumers that the iPhone was innovative.
I remember being around eight years old, and my only experience with phones was with my father’s old BlackBerry. One day, he decided to buy me an iPhone, and my little ‘ol mind was blown away. The packaging, the look, the big screen with just a single button. Tapping away on it was magical, almost unreal, and completely changed my perception of what humanity could create. Obviously this seems a bit hyperbolic, but I was just a little kid. The point still stands: the experience with each Apple innovation was unique, and every little aspect of the entire experience, from unpacking to years down the road, was carefully designed and cared for.
That’s where Jobs’s fame came from. He wasn’t a masterful engineer, or an innovator in hardware, but he was an innovator in design. The components weren’t revolutionary, the design and marketing was. Each bit of the iPhone was years old, but nobody had thought to make a phone like it. Celebrity status relies on fame, and achieving such irrational levels of it depends on masterful marketing and design. The entire aesthetic of Apple, from the pretty font and minimal logo to the rounded corners in their user interfaces, speak to the brand. To this day, people posthumously celebrate the genius of Jobs and his innovations for personal computing, when the innovations were designed and built by engineers that owed their careers to him. That was his brilliance, and that is celebrity.