Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Steve Jobs: One of a Kind
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".
Shelley's "Ozymandias" is supposed to remind us that we are dim lights, solitary candles, easily extinguished. And yet, we do know Ramses the Great. It is an easy prediction that Steven Paul Jobs will be known to millions who never know of the pharaoh. Ultimately, all that can matter is that at the end of his life, he knew that he made a difference in his lifetime. It is all we can expect.
Whether Apple endures remains to be seen. Free market economists revel in the fact that the Fortune 500 churns. Yesterdays's giants are gone, perhaps not yet forgotten like Ozymandias. On the other hand, old continuing firms do exist. (Wikipedia here.) Many are hotels. Others are breweries. That Apple produced the iPod (iPhone, etc.) may prove to be more significant than IBM's role in computers as data processing machines. We must wait and see.