Jobsless: Mobile tech needs a new champion

Jobsless: Mobile tech needs a new champion

Summary: While lots of things are happening in the mobile tech space, it doesn't feel that way. That's in large part due to the lack of Steve Jobs to keep us pumped up about it.

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple
(Image: ZDNet)

New phones are released all the time. Every company is making tablets they hope will capture the hearts of consumers. Mobile tech is moving right along, but it seems much more quietly than in the recent past. That is due in part to the lack of a charismatic champion to keep us pumped up about what's going on. There's no one to get us excited about mobile since the passing of Steve Jobs.

See related: Not even Steve Jobs could sell live tiles on iOS 8

Whatever you thought about Steve Jobs the man or of Apple the company, there is no denying Jobs was a master seller of technology. Many of us watched mesmerized as he unveiled some gadget or app, and excitement spread like wildfire. It wasn't just during the live events, either. The world babbled excitedly about whatever he sold us for weeks.

Mobile tech needs a new champion to step in and fill the void left by the passing of Steve Jobs.

It's true Jobs was riding an exciting time in mobile tech, with the births of the smartphone and the tablet. But at the time of Jobs' announcements of the iPhone and iPad, they weren't sure things. The iPhone ended up shaping the smartphone world, as did the iPad, but when Jobs first showed them to us they were a huge unknown. That they ended up being a major force in mobile can be attributed in part, perhaps a large part, to the fervor and flair with which Steve Jobs presented them to us.

Since the passing of Jobs it seems there is a void of passion in mobile. Companies are rolling out product after product, but there's no excitement that accompanies it. That's the case with both brand new tech and product refreshes. No one is out there creating fervor for them as Jobs did for Apple's products.

It's not just Apple missing Jobs' salesmanship, it's the competition too. While a flashy Jobs' product launch did a great job whipping Apple customers into a frenzy, it had a spill-over effect for other companies. Jobs could incite such passion for whatever tech he was selling that, deny it though they might, it often crossed over to other companies' products. It wasn't uncommon to see excitement about competing gadgets online immediately after an Apple launch event.

The excitement generation machine that was Steve Jobs is sorely missed. Apple current events pale in comparison to those with Jobs onstage. The competition has repeatedly tried to display new products with a similar fervor but have come up very short. They've even tried off-the-wall events, remember the Samsung little homemaker event, with dismal results.

Mobile tech needs a new champion to step in and fill the void left by the passing of Steve Jobs. It doesn't matter who, nor which company they represent, we just need someone. A charismatic salesman who can excite passion about some facet of mobile tech. Someone who leaves audiences standing, shouting with excitement about some gadget or app. While it's not likely we'll see someone as effective at that as Jobs, hopefully we'll have someone step forward who can give it a good try.

Topics: Mobility, Apple

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  • dont know about a champion...

    But the tech world definitely needs to push d envelope with mobile and personal tech... Only samsung and sony seem to be doing that these days with waterproofing and stylus optimisation
    • But Samsung is too slow to upgrade its products

      assuming that the products even get upgraded. I made the mistake once of buying a Samsung device. It is a mistake that I will not repeat.
      • u av a point

        Not to mention Sammy's ugly phone designs... No aesthetics there
  • dont know about a champion...

    But the tech world definitely needs to push d envelope with mobile and personal tech... Only samsung and sony seem to be doing that these days with waterproofing and stylus optimisation
  • dont know about a champion...

    But the tech world definitely needs to push d envelope with mobile and personal tech... Only samsung and sony seem to be doing that these days with waterproofing and stylus optimisation
  • dont know about a champion...

    But the tech world definitely needs to push d envelope with mobile and personal tech... Only samsung and sony seem to be doing that these days with waterproofing and stylus optimisation
  • oops


    Watching Tim Cook is about as exciting as watching wood petrify!

    Jobs was exciting and always left us on the edge with anticipation, for the next "One more thing".

    Jobs' legacy will be that of a leader who ushered in the mobile revolution... saving the world from Wintel and boring, inefficient, cookie cutter, outdated, substandard harware and software.

    Cook is just like the folks at MS and Intel, in that he lacks a creative bone in his body.

    He doesn't take risks and just upgrades instead of innovates.

    Jobs wasn't scared to cannibalize an existing Apple product category.

    He simply put the future of computing in our hands and let the stock market and product sales fall where they may.

    To say that "Jobs was on a different level" is an understatement.

    We always lose the Jobs' of the world early on, but it seems as though the Cooks', the Gates', and the Ballmers' live forever.
    • Wow. You can't even get through a single blog post without disparaging MS.

      That's the only reason you post. You have some issues you need to deal with, that much is obvious. You're scared to death of something about MS, you can't deny that. If you weren't you wouldn't use every single blog post as a springboard to say something nasty about them

      What worse? The post was about Steve Jobs, so you throw in some praise, but instead of ending on a high note, you always find a way to use it as an excuse to moan about MS.

      Here, I'll take a page out of your playbook - Steve Jobs was nothing more then a man who cheated his business partner/co-founder out of his share of money, did not reward other employees who helped start the company with stock, let his daughter be raised in poverty on welfare while he blatantly denied he was the father, took back dated stock while letting others take the blame, and philanthropy was a foreign word to him.

      Not really praise worthy, wouldn't you say?

      I could go on, but I digress, as that's not what the blog is about.

      So maybe Job's passing was fortuitous for his legacy only (as nothing else is good about his passing) - Could he have really come up with "one more thing", or did he reach that plateau, where Apple is at that point where it's run out of ideas to "change the world"?

      Yes, Jobs was a salesman, though much of the hype was just that - hype. Showmanship was his specialty, and like the art world, maybe many may have not wanted to look like the lowly gauche person who can't understand what they're looking at, so they continue to praise him even as all he produced was an iPad with a Retina display, no longer innovating, instead getting praise for just nothing more then updating an existing Apple product.

      Maybe his legacy is what it is because he passed before he got to the point where he was just known as "the man who lost his vision"? History is strewn with those in many fields that have died later in life never achieving that which they did in their youth.

      But the brains behind the devices are still there at Apple. To blame Tim Cook is unfair, as not everyone can sell rock as the next must have device.

      The leaders are in place RIGHT NOW, we just have to listen, and quit denying them the opportunity to earn the praise many blindly threw at Steve Jobs.

      As for Gates and the rest, I can clearly say - drop you unhealthy envy of them, and take a real good look at your life, and see if you can do more for the world then insult those that had the guts to step up and change the world in ways that are far beyond your comprehension.

      The only reason you're able to be post here today is because of the Gates, AND Jobs, AND Ballmer, AND Cooks.....
    • Let's hope that the Bill Gates of the world continue on

      Jobs was a selfish and arrogant person, worshiped only by those who were too ignorant to see how weak his products truly were. Bill Gates has literally saved millions of lives. I'd say the world is a far better place because of people like Bill Gates, not the likes of your Deity.
      • Bill Gates

        Is a thief. no two ways about it. Sure Jobs was an arrogant SOB but he had reason to be. He started the company that produced the first consumer PC (Generic term Personal Computer BTW). He also took Pixar and made it into an animation juggernaut. Then he came back to Apple, eliminated the waste that Scully, Amelio, and the rest encouraged, and reinvigorated a stagnant smartphone market, completely took over the portable music business, redefined how we buy our music, and created a tablet market. Not too shabby for a dude who made "weak products".

      Ever tried getting any friends to fill the void?
      (I'm guessing you tried.......)
  • Talk about reinventing history...

    Or let's not.
  • It's not a question about missing Steve Jobs on stage and Tim Cook's

    Keynote presense is an acquired taste, to be sure.

    But you stated in your blog, James, the real reason mobile tech reviews over the past several years have never quite risen to the level of a Steve Jobs production.

    It's simply the lack of a new product reveal which "sails into uncharted seas".

    I suspect that when Tim Cook finally unveils Apple's wearable new tech (both hardware and software designed for it) that the fever over a mobile tech gadget will return.

    I, for one, am anticipating upgrading my perfectly good (and in excellent condition) iPhone 5 for the new iPhone 6 model this year. I suspect that it the synergy with Apple's "really, REALLY rumored" new wearable tech gadget will be fantastic.

    Oh, BTW, despite all the rumors to the contrary, Apple's legendary secrecy seems to have returned regarding this new wearable tech product. No one knows what it will do or how it will look. You would think manufacturing facilities for it should almost be complete by now and, as a result, a few leaked photos of some of it's parts would have entered the blogsphere.
    • I disagree.

      I think it really boils down to the stereotypes we've put in place that guides our perception of events.

      Steve Jobs - thin, thin haired, round glasses, slightly unshaven, black turtle neck shirt, and blue jeans fits that stereotype of the early Silicon Valley startup that was bringing new products to the world, to a tee, so we'll believe him as he's excited, so the product must be exciting. But we also don't associate that CEO part with Jobs when he's presenting.
      All we see is that struggling entrepreneur giving us a great new product that excites even the "inventor".

      Tim Cook has adopted some of those characteristics, but has enough difference as to not look like he's trying to be a carbon copy of Jobs, so were really not getting that same feeling with Cook, so our perception of the products he's showing isn't the same.
      All we see the business guy running Apple in Jobs absence taking over his job.

      Look at Steve Ballmer - you can't say he wasn't excited about the products MS is putting out, yet look at him - he's got some extra pounds, round face, bald, clean shaven in a button down shirt and slacks. He looks more CEO then anything else, so all we see is the CEO telling us about their new money making product.

      Apple could come out with some great wearable tech, but it just won't get the buzz as the guy showing it off isn't a struggling entrepreneur, he's a business guy.

      And we've told ourselves that business guys will say anything to sell a product.
      • I thought it was car salesmen that said anything....

        to sell a product? ;-)

        Not sure what stereotype your discussing but a major reason people got excited about Jobs and his keynotes was the passion he showed for the products he introduced. You got the sense he was involved in the whole process from start to finish, it was his baby being introduced to the world (hands on CEO).

        With Ballmer it's the opposite, you don't get that sense. Unlike Jobs, it feels like he was detached from the whole process from incubation to development. Most times he looked out of place at events when discussing products and tech. Actually he recently confirmed what many already knew that he really was not a tech guy.

        And there's this little thing reputation. Apple and Its CEO Jobs developed over the years a reputation of hitting it out the park more times than not. From iMacs to iPods to iPhones iPod Touch and iPads.
        • And kind of you make my point.

          "You got the sense he was involved in the whole process from start to finish, it was his baby being introduced to the world (hands on CEO). "

          "With Ballmer it's the opposite, you don't get that sense. Unlike Jobs, it feels like he was detached from the whole process from incubation to development"

          And that's the thing - there's no indication either one actually spent any more, or any less time on the floor then the other. But the stereotype, the 'perception' that Jobs was "hands on" could easy be believed, as he looked the part.

          But don't forget, he was CEO of a large corporation with many moving parts and products just as Ballmer was, so to assume he could spend his day walking the floor guiding every last detail as many imagine doesn't really fit with a company the size of Apple. That's what Cook and Ives were for.

          "And there's this little thing reputation".

          Not sure in what reference you meant that, as Microsoft, (along with Apple) always appear in lists of the top most reputable companies, so MS has a good reputation itself, and they didn't do it by making crappy products that nobody likes.

          The difference is the persona Jobs gave off, the one WE see based on how he looks, the one WE see on how he acts, allows people to forget the notion he was the CEO busy running a multi-billion dollar company, and actually entertain the notion he was down on the floor teaching Ives, Cook, and all the rest how to do their job.

          Articles mention that Jobs was credited with many things, even things they he didn't create or was a part of at Apple. But that was the persona that crafted around him, the idea that HE thought of everything himself, and you believed it based on how we imagined he was. We didn't know him personally, we thought we knew him based on what he allowed us to see.

          Nothing against Jobs at all, he did his part fantastically, and helped convey that excitement to the people he was talking to, got them to buy the products they made no matter how incremental the added features may have been. It was "magical".

          There are a lot of exciting products out there, some even trump the products Apple put out in many ways.

          The problem is that many people look at the CEO of those respective companies and perceive them as the CEO, not as the "Inventor", and maybe the next "champion" has been here all along, but we're not willing to give them a chance, because we don't physically see anyone who looks the part, so we assume they don't exist.
  • I think we are beginning to understand this topic, William, as it relates

    to the current and recent CEOs of Apple and Microsoft.

    Steve Jobs as the "Inventor". Steve Ballmer as the "CEO". And Tim Cook as the "business guy". Which stereotype works best in a tech keynote setting? Actually, I'll try to answer that question later. But first, your comments jogged a trip down "memory lane" for me.

    It's interesting to note that Steve Jobs public image persona in his early Apple career (when the "struggling entrepreneur" stereotype ALMOST could be applied), was of a well groomed business executive. (Note the image of Steve Jobs in that famous photo where he is introducing the Macintosh to the world. He is wearing a "rather sharp" tailored business suite with a white shirt and dark maroon tie.) In fact, early public photos of Steve Jobs at sanctioned Apple Business events almost always depicted him wearing a suite and tie.)

    It was only during his last ten years that Steve Jobs adopted his iconic dress apparel and wearing those round glasses. Regarding that final stage of his public persona, I would disagree with your opinion that his attire was designed to convey a stereotypical Silicon Valley startup tech entrepreneur - starving or not :-) Personally, I think his viewing public basically understood that Steve had settled upon a distinctive public appearance that reflected his personal life style rather than his reflecting his status as CEO of Apple.

    As a side note, it is interesting that Bill Gates public appearances over the years is almost directly opposite from the Jobs' timeline. Bill was always associated with blue jeans or casual attire in his early years - even famously walking into IBM wearing that type of casual attire at the time IBM and Microsoft were in discussions about selling Microsoft DOS to IBM. Now, Bill Gates is usually shown in public wearing a suite and tie.

    My impression of the public Steve Ballmer and the public Steve Jobs (during the entirety of their careers) was this overriding impression. I always received the impression that Steve Jobs KNEW the product that he was talking about at a far deeper level of understanding than Steve Ballmer did in a similar situation. Again, that is my perception and that perception may or may not reflect reality. But it does reflect in how they presented their products to the world.

    IMO, Steve Ballmer was the typical CEO in that he delageted responsibility for "the technical stuff". And in that regard, his Keynote Addresses over the years were basically talking points about various products and how Microsoft was incorporating current technology into it's products. He would also give great importance to certain goals Microsoft employees and "developers" were striving to achieve - or had met.

    As far as Tim Cook is concerned, I perceive a man that is justifiably confident in his own CONSIDERABLE abilities and projects that confidence in his keynote addresses. Unfortunately, his area of expertise in which that confidence is founded upon is not based in the products Apple sells but rather in how those products "come to be". As such, his Keynote addresses can't help but lack the passion that for those products that, say, Jon Ive projects for his designs.

    Now, all three individuals (or four, if one counts Bill Gates) have always projected excitement for their products during keynote addresses. But I think what separates Steve Jobs from them is Jobs' passion for demonstrating those products himself. He actually delighted in demonstrating those products himself on stage - whether they worked (usually) or not. Grin.

    I can't recall Steve Ballmer or Tim Cook ever doing that or at least, not to that extent. I tend to recall them delegating that type of public demonstration to other persons and I think that is the KEY difference between their keynote presentations.

    And perhaps that is why we remember Steve Jobs with more than a bit of nostalgia regarding Keynote addresses. He was like "one of us" sitting down to experience a new tech gadget for the first time and that sense of excitement or passion for a product can never be duplicated when one delegates that responsibility to another.
  • Lord no.

    Seriously - why do people need constant entertainment in order to appreciate the practical?

    What next - pining for P. T. Barnum?

    Yearning for snake oil?


    Get Criss Angel to be a spokesperson then - at least the 'one more thing' moments will be more enjoyable...
    • LOL!

      "Get Criss Angel to be a spokesperson "


      That would add a new meaning to the phrase "magical device"