A lot has been said about Steve Jobs in the 24 hours since his death and some of that has come from me. It has been 24 hours of round-the-world media interviews, most of them live but you can see an edited version of me this Friday on ABC’s 20/20, which is doing a Jobs tribute of some sort. Remember ABC’s parent is Disney and Jobs was Disney’s largest shareholder. With all that has been said and written, however, I’m hard put to know what there is I can add here. I can tell you though the two Jobs questions I still want answers for, and where I hope to find those answers.
Question #1 — Was there a grand plan for Apple? Did Steve and his little circle set out in 1997 to do an iMac followed by an iPod with iTunes followed by an iPhone followed by an iPad? And if they did have such a plan, what was next on their list after the iPad?
Some technical and product transitions are no-brainers. Computers get smaller, faster, and cheaper over time. After a certain point smaller, faster, and cheaper begets mobility. After mobility gets smaller, faster, and cheaper we want all our stuff to be available anywhere anytime. After we have all our stuff with us anywhere anytime the platform itself begins to disappear. All of these steps except the last happened in Steve Jobs’s lifetime, and it is easy to see that last step coming, too. But while these steps were no-brainers in retrospect, were they obvious beyond Apple, were they part of a plan?
I like to think that there was a plan, which might explain why Apple never made televisions in Steve’s life, though I know they came very close. If there was a plan I’d love to know the value set and algorithms at its heart.
But my sense is actually that there was no plan or maybe that the plan changed, perhaps many times, explaining the exodus of top Apple talent over the years. I’d like to hear what Avie Tevanian has to say, for example.
Question #2 — What happens to Steve’s money? This may seem crass to some, but no more crass than a billionaire with no outward signs of philanthropy. It was Steve’s money of course and he could do with it whatever he liked, but what was his reason for outwardly appearing to have little interest in others? Maybe he was a closet philanthropist. Certainly in recent years the considerable amounts he spent on cancer research aimed at his own cure will benefit thousands of others. I’d still like to know, though, Steve’s plan for his fortune.
I hope to learn the answers to both questions from Walter Isaacson when his authorized biography of Steve Jobs is released on October 24th. I haven’t read the book yet and know nobody who has, but I hope Walter got around to my silly questions and that Steve answered them.
He was a busy guy, Steve Jobs — so busy living for the moment that maybe he didn’t have to live so far (or indeed at all) into the future. Maybe none of this matters, but I’d still like to know.
What unanswered questions would you have for Steve Jobs?
Tomorrow I’ll respond to the 200+ comments on my Final Frontier column, hopefully setting off another burst of discussion and discovery — just the sort of discourse Steve Jobs would have liked, especially if it riled people up.