Jobs’ innovations changed our lives

Morning coffee tastes better because of Steve Jobs.

In the past 18 hours many have produced and shared beautiful, personal and heartfelt tributes to the legacy of Steve Jobs (1955-2011). And while there is nothing new that I can add to the online accolades and condolences, I am compelled to share my appreciation for the innovative genius whose vision has changed the way the world communicates.

Though I was first introduced to the Macintosh in an elementary school classroom, I didn’t become an owner of an Apple product until 2005 when I got my first iPod–a fifth generation video iPod.

Then after always using wrestling with Windows PCs and laptops, I got my first MacBook Pro (thanks to my work as the faculty adviser to Lee Student Media) in 2007. My Windows laptop went into a drawer of the file cabinet and I was converted by the intuitive user interface of Apple’s OS X (Tiger) and the impressive simplicity of Macintosh. It simply worked without all of the crashes and bumps that frustrated me with my previous computers.

Then in 2008, the Trowbridges took the first steps toward becoming a total Mac family–replacing our antiquated desktop PC with a new iMac.

Today as I inventory all our computing, communication and media devices, I’m astonished by the overwhelming number which bear the iconic Apple logo.

  • Apple 5G iPod (my original) (I sold my original iPod Touch.)
  • Apple iPod Nano (Robyn’s original)
  • Apple TV
  • Apple Airport Extreme
  • 20″ iMac (running Lion and featuring iLife and iWork), Apple Magic Mouse and Apple Track Pad
  • 15″ MacBook Pro (running Lion and featuring iLife and iWork), Apple Mighty Mouse
  • 2 – iPhone 4 (for both Robyn and me)
  • iPhone (My original, but I sold my iPhone 3G and iPhone 3Gs.)
  • iPad 2
  • iPad (Robyn got the hand-me-down original.)
  • Plus, I have a 27″ iMac (running Lion and featuring iLife and iWork), Apple Wireless Keyboard, Apple Magic Mouse and Apple Track Pad at the office.

Hanging on my office door is a copy of the “Living the iLife” cartoon by Nate Beeler, The Washington Examiner. It reads:

iMac     iPod     iPhone     iPad     iBroke

I can’t think of a single day in the past five years when I haven’t used a product created by Apple. And Steve Jobs was the driving force behind each one. All eyes are on Apple as a business and its future without the man who founded it and then returned to revive it in 1997. We can be confident that the company will continue to thrive as long as its foundation rests upon the innovative spirit modeled by Steve Jobs.

Confession: Goo-Goo for Gadgetry

Despite his annoying clumsiness and simple wit, I enjoyed watching Inspector Gadget as a child. It wasn’t the animation that drew me in. And, it wasn’t the silly predicaments that kept me watching. Instead, I was intrigued by the never-ending supply of gadgets which could save the day. Perhaps this was the first sign of my yet-to-be-diagnosed disorder which I will confess publicly today: I am sometimes often almost always goo-goo for gadgets.

That’s right. I have a(n) (un)healthy curiosity about emerging technologies–especially communication technologies. Fortunately I can blame much of it on my professional interests (and vocational requirements) since I do research and teach about the impact of such toys sophisticated communication devices (e.g., computers, the Internet, social media, mobile devices, etc.).

The latest–and perhaps the most novel device today (what will tomorrow bring?)–is Apple’s iPad which became available to the mass consumer market yesterday, April 3, 2010. Billed as a “magical and revolutionary” product, the iPad reached the hands of more than a quarter million U.S. consumers yesterday. I was among them.

Unlike “revolutionary” products of the past (i.e., the iPhone 3G) where I actually stood in line hoping to be one of the lucky few to be able to make the purchase, I ordered an iPad in the first few minutes that they were available for pre-order March 12. Then I waited eagerly (i.e., like a child waits for Santa Claus on Christmas eve) for UPS to deliver it to my home Saturday morning.

Finally at 10:53 a.m., I heard the sleigh UPS delivery truck come to a screeching halt on the street in front of my house. It had arrived and I would have a new toy gadget to play with critically evaluate for the rest of the day.

Is it as “magical and revolutionary” as Apple claims?

Users–those early adopters as well as those who’ve resisted the temptation to drink the kool-aid–are buzzing about the iPad. There is no shortage of reviews of the product, so I doubt I could find a gap to fill with my own commentary, which I’ll save for my Innovation & Social Media class discussion next week.

One such review was written by award-winning blogger and tech writer Gina Trapani. She argues for why one shouldn’t buy an iPad–at least not yet. She makes some excellent points (read it!) and there aren’t many that I’d even think twice about. Perhaps her most provocative point is this:

New gadgets create friction in your life. Every new gadget you acquire is another screen to pay attention to, another battery to charge, another device to sync, secure, weigh down your bag, and buy accessories for; it’s another shiny thing to worry about losing, getting stolen, scratched, dropped, and serviced. If the iPad doesn’t fill an obvious need in your work or home life right now, pass.

At least for now.

I sure am glad I had an obvious need for an iPad in my home and work life right now!

[Disclaimer (a.k.a. justification, defense, etc.): I only purchased the lowest end iPad (16GB WiFi version) because I know the next generation will address many of the complaints. Of course, my greatest “wish” so far for the 2nd gen is a camera.).