Google the words ‘steve jobs lies‘ and you’ll be treated with a dirty laundry list about Jobs’ all to often public behavior through the years, sometimes referred to as ‘the reality distortion field‘ thanks to his ability to make people believe something that did not really exist.
Thanks to the 10th anniversary of Apple’s flagship device (sorry, Mac; those days have gone), much digital ink has been used to describe the iPhone’s impact on humanity, and how Jobs misled the technology media and the world by presenting a product that looked great but just didn’t work.
Compare the iPhone’s introduction in early 2007 to the finished product that launched about five months later. Yes, the iPhone was not ready for primetime and Jobs had to walk a thin line to ensure the device– very much unfinished software and hardware– did not crash before an auditorium of experienced technology and media representatives.
Gene Marks writes something similar in Entrepreneur— a Forbes and Business Insider-like publication where almost anyone with a clever idea to drum up a cute headline that captures eyeballs as they roll by the interwebs.
[Jobs’] development team created a “golden path” which was basically a step by step, scripted procedure of features that he could show in a specific order so that the phone wouldn’t malfunction. Jobs took the further step of demanding that his programmers rig the iPhone so that it always showed five bars of signal strength to demonstrate its wireless capability, even though the actual signal was less than reliable.
In other words, a product demonstration of a product that was not finished, therefore, susceptible to hiccups, problems, crashes, and other things going wrong during the presentation.
Welcome to how most product demonstrations work, although Apple seems to have matured a bit since Jobs brought the iPhone to the masses. I’ve walked my way through a number of new product and new functionality on old products to know that, well, that’s how it’s done.
There was no way that Jobs was fully certain that all the features he promised on the iPhone would actually work in the real world. But he plowed ahead anyway with his fake demonstration. Why? Because he believed he was doing the right thing.
I take issue with the phrase ‘fake demonstration‘ and Mark’s use of the word ‘mislead.’ Jobs did not mislead anyone except those who, 1) do not understand the technology industry, 2) someone who wants to rewrite history as if Jobs was a liar when he introduced the iPhone The demonstration was real. The product was real. It just wasn’t finished. That’s the nature of the beast, folks. Marks should know that.
These days Apple executives often give a presentation on new products that are finished and ship the same day. We saw that recently with the new Mac models and new iPad Pro models. It happens. But note that recent presentations of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra were previews of products we know will be released later this year. We know the products at their introduction have bugs, and we know when they are launched later this year there will be bugs. The nature of software is such that it is never finished.
Steve Jobs gave a preview of the original iPhone in 2007, months before it was released. Yes, anyone with a modicum of understanding of how hardware and software works knows the product used in a pre-release show’n tell is flawed. The original iPhone was also flawed when released back in 2007 and will be flawed when released later this year.
That’s how it works. To say Jobs lied about the iPhone or misled an auditorium full of experienced technology and media people is to gin up a controversy where none existed, and where none exists today.
This isn’t to say that Jobs did not have a history of lying or misleading. But that seems to be the nature of humanity which tells me not much has changed in the few thousand years of recorded human history.