Features

Farewell, Mr. Jobs

By Harley Liu
CONTRIBUTOR

Translated by Daniel Youd.

On October 5, 2011, the founder of Apple Computers, Mr. Steve Jobs, departed this world.  The cause: cancer.  He was 56 years old.

I must cast my thoughts back to 2008 to recall the first time I became aware of the Apple brand.  At that time I was a first-year student at Beijing No. 4 High School.  One evening, while I was studying on my own, I suddenly caught sight of my friend Sicong holding an MP3 player and listening to some music.  Although I knew it was an MP3 player, it was like none other I had seen before.  It was so elegant.  As soon as I touched it, it gave me a gratifying sense of its quality.  Most importantly, when I saw Sicong using his thumb to move the round control button to select songs, I was utterly mesmerized:  “So this is how an MP3 player should be!” Curiosity rippled through my heart.  When I asked Sicong about it, he told me that it was an Apple nano.  I didn’t know what “nano” meant; I only knew what an MP3 was.  Nevertheless, I thought the brand name was fascinating: why should an MP3 player be called “apple”?  But what really arrested my attention was on the back: when I turned the MP3 player over, I saw the icon, and I was immediately won over by it.  It was an imperfect apple – one that, in the upper right corner, someone had already taken a bite out of.  But, precisely because it was an imperfect apple, I was able to sense its beauty.  It was just like the armless Venus di Milo, whose imperfection gives such a deep impression of beauty.

You can guess what happened next. I constantly urged my mom to buy me this thing called a nano MP3, and I constantly praised the Apple brand to her.  Finally, my mom yielded to my relentless requests.  We went to the Sanlitun Village in the Chaoyang district of the city, where there is a huge Apple Store.  I remember that, when I saw the Apple icon, it was as if I were drunk with happiness.  The fashionableness of the Apple Store attracted the attention of a lot of visitors, who just wanted to take a look.  On display in the store were so many computers, tablets, cell phones, and MP3s, which visitors could explore on their own.  I really admired this kind of store.  Who wouldn’t?  Because of this visit, I learned that there weren’t just Apple brand MP3s, there were all kinds of Apple electronics.  So, I pushed my way into the crowd in order to try an Apple “cell phone.”  To my surprise, the “phone” only had two buttons: an on-off button and a menu button.  Everything else was done through touch.  I could use my hand to change the screen, and I could use two of my fingers to make things bigger or smaller.  The “phone” had many other humanized functions, but the most important thing about it was that it seemed so comfortable.  Then, I discovered a problem:  Why couldn’t you send a text message or make a phone call using this “cell phone”?  So I asked one of the workers in the store; only then did I discover that this was a “Touch” – something like a computer that you could hold in the palm of your hand.  Although I thought that many of these products were quite amusing, all I could really think about at that time was buying the nano, going home, and using it.  But who would have thought that a nano was more than 1200 yuan?  My mom had to steel her nerves before she could buy it for me.  Even I couldn’t think of a reason why an MP3 player should be that expensive.  There was a question mark floating in my mind: was it worth all this money?

Yes! That was the answer I arrived at. I need not mention all the functions it had: you could listen to music, use it as a radio, play games on it, take photographs, and record with it.  The most important thing, however, was how comfortable it was to use, how natural, how elegant.  Nowadays many electronic devices make our lives easier, but most of them are too inflexible, and we get fed up with them.   But Apple products make us feel like we are eating a nice fresh piece of fruit.  It is almost as if the electronic device is no longer a lifeless machine but, rather, has become a real natural product.   With this feeling, I can really let my mind relax and appreciate music.

After buying the nano, things seemed to follow a natural course of development.  One by one, more Apple products entered our household: the iPhone 3, iPad 1, the iPhone 4 (which we bought for my brother-in-law), the iPad 2, and the iMac (one notebook and one desktop computer).  Although they were expensive, I always thought: They’re worth it!  I can’t live without my Apple products now.  When I make a video call to my mom and dad, I don’t need an external camcorder; every day, when I write my diary, I use the incomparably comfortable Apple keyboard, which seems to fit my hands just right; I use the nano to listen to music; and, to study, I use my iPad or my notebook computer.  Apple electronics have become the leading melody of my life.  But am I alone in feeling this way?  Once, while riding the subway in Beijing, I made a casual calculation:  during a certain regular interval, I saw in every subway car at least four different Apple products being used.  After I got to the US, I had the feeling that there were more Apple computers than any other brand.  Previously, although I thought Apple products were good, I didn’t think that most people were capable of truly appreciating them.  But once I got to America, people told me that Apple has surpassed Windows in terms of number of users.  What is more, all of the new cell phones appearing in the Chinese market are imitations of the Apple iPhone.  Although one might suspect that they infringe upon Apple’s copyright, there is no denying that this tide of imitation indicates that, in this electronic age, Apple has taken the role of undisputed leader.

So, as I’ve been talking about my own relation to Apple, I’ve lost sight of my main topic:  Mr. Steve Jobs.  Today, on the front page of the The New York Times, Jobs’ death was the lead item, with a classic photograph of Jobs in the most important position.  The New York Times is the most famous and one of the most widely read newspapers in the US, so you can easily imagine Jobs’ importance.  After I read the retrospective article on Jobs’ life, I felt rather good.  Like Bill Gates, he left school before graduating from college.  But, he surpasses Gates in that he only studied at college for a semester for a very simple and down-to-earth reason:  he realized that his school expenses were the sum total of his parents’ savings.  Jobs’ early life was rather sad, since he was abandoned by his birth parents and adopted by another couple.  But Jobs never let his family background interfere with the manifestation of his genius.  His love of computers and his genius was no less than Gates’ – that other grand master of computers.  In fact, in high school he so impressed the boss of a big company that he was taken on by them as an intern.  Although Jobs was a computer genius, he wasn’t just a software engineer or a hardware engineer.  His real genius was in how to use people – i.e. he understood how to bring talented people together to create a new product, and he knew how to create an invincible organization.  This is the principal reason he was able to lead his team to create Apple.  When it came time for him to name his company, he thought about how in this electronic age all the products are mechanical and inflexible.  That was when he came up with the idea of naming his company after a fruit.  This simple idea made a deep impression on the minds of consumers.  Later, offering a critical evaluation of Steve Jobs, someone said: “Mr. Jobs, you touched the dark area of electronics and brought it back to life.”  Yes, that is what he did.  To understand this, all we have to do is look at the current sales figures for Apple products.  Recently, I saw an item on the internet that said, although the iPhone 5 has not yet been released, there are already people how have paid 100,000 yuan to pre-order it.

On the day that Mr. Jobs died, President Obama made a public statement in the evening expressing his sorrow at the news.  He also said: “The world has lost a visionary.”  This presidential commendation, I believe, serves as the perfect summation of Jobs’ life’s struggles.

I’d like to conclude my diary entry today with this sentence from Jobs’ autobiography:  “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

Farewell, Mr. Jobs.  Safe travels!

Chinese Version:

2011年10月5日          星期三           晴

再见,乔布斯

美国时间2011年10月5日,苹果创始人乔布斯因为癌症永远的离开的人世,终年56岁。

我第一次了解到苹果牌子还要追溯到2008年。那年是我在北京四中的第一年,一天晚自习突然看到思聪在拿着一个绿色的MP3听歌,虽然是MP3,可又不同于其它的MP3,它看上去是那么优雅,用手一摸感觉质感特别的舒服。最重要的是,看到思聪用大拇指转动着圆圈控制键来选择歌曲时,我被那种感觉深深的吸引住了。“原来MP3可以这样用啊。”我的好奇心在心里荡漾。在我的询问下,思聪告诉我这是苹果牌的nano。虽然我不知道nano是什么意思,只知道这是个MP3,可我觉得这个牌子的名字真的很有意思,为什么一个MP3会叫苹果呢?最吸引人的还在后边,当我翻过MP3,看到那个图标时,我感觉我已经彻底被这个品牌给征服了。那是一个残缺的苹果,它的右上角好像被人咬掉了一块似的。但正是这个残缺的苹果,让我感受到了它的美。就像雕塑断臂的维纳斯女神一样,残缺的让人印象深刻的美。正是这种美,让我的内心久久不能平静。

随后发生的事情可想而知,我一个劲地催着老妈给我买这个名叫nano的MP3,并且一个劲的向老妈夸着这个品牌。在我的不断恳求下,老妈最终答应了我的请求。我们一起来到位于朝阳区的三里屯Villiage,这里有一家非常大的苹果店。我依稀记得第一次看到那个苹果大标时,心里的那种陶醉感。苹果店内也十分的气派,吸引了很多游客的观光。店里摆设了许多电脑,平板电脑,手机,还有MP3,游客们都可以去亲自感受,这是让我最钦佩的,这样的店,谁不喜欢?正是这次造访,我才知道苹果这个牌子原来不只有MP3,还有很多很多电器。我也挤进了人群中,想试试苹果的“手机”,这个“手机”竟然只有两个键:一个是开关,另一个的菜单回归键。其它都是触摸。我可以用手换选页面,也可以用两个指头放大照片,还有很多人性化的功能,但最大的感受就是特别的舒服。但是我发现了一个问题:为什么这个“手机”不能发短信和打电话呢。于是我问了店里的服务人员,才知道这个玩意儿不是手机,它的名字叫“Touch”,相当于一个掌上电脑。虽然觉得这里的很多东西都很好玩,但那时候心里还不敢想太多,只想买一个nano赶紧回去享受去。可谁知一个nano就1200多,老妈下了狠心才给我买了。我也想不明白一个MP3至于那么贵么。我的心里打起了问号,它值得这么多钱么?

最终的答案证明,它是值得的。且不说它的功能有许多,听歌不用说,还有收音机、游戏、照片放映、录音机等等。最重要的是,用起来感觉特别的舒适,自然,优雅。当今的电器虽然让生活很方便,但都太过于生硬,让人对电器有些厌倦了。但苹果产品带给人的感觉就想是在吃一个新鲜的水果,仿佛电器成了实实在在的自然产品,不再是机器,不再是生硬的东西。这种感觉,可以让我真正的享受音乐,可以让我心情更加舒畅。

随后的事情就顺其自然的发生了,Iphone3,Ipad1,Iphone4(给姐夫买的),Ipad2,Imac(笔记本和台式电脑各一台)。一件又一件的苹果产品进入了我的家门。虽然它们很贵,但我总是觉得:值得!现在的生活已经离不开苹果了,和爸妈视频,不需要额外的摄像头;每天写日记,用着让我感到舒服无比的键盘(这个键盘让我写日记写的很有手感);用nano听歌,用ipad当学习工具和便携电脑。苹果的电器现在已然成为了我的主打旋律。何止又是我一个人呢?我曾经在北京地铁上做过不经意的统计,在正常时间段内,每半节车厢至少可以出现四个苹果产品。来到美国后,我觉得我见到的苹果电脑比其它任何品牌的电脑都多。之前一直觉得虽然苹果好,可大多数人都享受不起。但来到美国之后,别人给我的答案却是:苹果已然超过了Windows。再看看现在国内的新款手机吧,各种对苹果产品的模仿。虽然这么多的模仿品有侵犯版权的嫌疑,但正是这种模仿苹果的潮流,体现了苹果在这个电器时代中所扮演的当之无愧的领袖角色。

不知不觉说了好多有关苹果和我自己的亲身联系,都忘了我的主题是乔布斯先生了。今天在New York Times的主页上,乔布斯去世的消息成为了头版新闻,一张大大的乔布斯的经典照片出现在新闻主页的最重要位置上。New York Times是美国最著名且最畅销的报刊,可想而知乔布斯的影响力有多大。我认真读完了这篇关于乔布斯一生回顾的新闻,感受颇丰。它和比尔盖茨一样,大学没毕业就辍学了,并且他比比尔盖茨更牛的是,他只在大学上了一个学期就不念了,原因很简单也很实际,就是他认为他上学的费用是他父母的所有资金储备。乔布斯的出生经历十分可怜,他被亲身父母抛弃,是被养父养母养大的。但这样的出生背景并不能影响到他才华横溢的流露。他对电脑方面的喜爱和才华丝毫不亚于另一个电脑大师——比尔盖茨。他还是高中生的时候,就被一个大公司的老板给看上去做实习了。虽然乔布斯在电脑方面才华横溢,但他既不是软件工程师,也不是硬件工程师,相比之下,他最有才华的地方是会用人,会把电脑人才整合起来去创造一个新产品,去组建一个战无不胜的团队。这也是他带领团队创建苹果的一个很重要的原因。在给这个品牌起名的时候,他正是想到当今时代电器产品的刻板和生硬,才想到了一个用水果的名字来作为这个品牌的名字的想法。正是这个想法,让苹果这个名字深深的印在了消费者心中。后来有人评价乔布斯说道:“乔布斯先生,你触摸到了如今最黑暗的电器领域,但你却让这个领域重新焕发了生机。是的,他做到了。不用说别的,看看苹果在当今市场上的销量我们就能明白一切了。我之前在网上甚至看到一则消息,虽然苹果手机第五代还没有出来,但已经有一部分人花一万人民币预订了。

乔布斯先生去世后,美国总统奥巴马在今天晚上也发表了公开声明,他对乔布斯先生的去世深表哀痛,并且奥巴马说道:“世界因此失去了一位最有创新精神并且才华横溢的艺术家。”能得到总统先生的如此褒奖,我想乔布斯一生的奋斗也算是划上了圆满的句号。

最后,我想用乔布斯自传中的一句话也是他最喜欢的一句话来结束今天的日记:“Stay Hungry, stay foolish”。

谢谢你,乔布斯。请一路走好!

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