Monday, October 10, 2011

Another R.I.P.

As far as tragedies go, 2011 is turning out to be a really bad year. First M F Hussain, then Steve Jobs, and now Jagjit Singh.
Jagjit Singh was responsible for bringing the ghazal to the common man. True, there are other noted singers, like Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Munni Begum, but few have been able to transcend from the high art and reach out to the common man. Jagjit Singh managed to do that, with his soulful and soothing voice. Ask a layman, and he will be able to recall a Jagjit Singh ghazal before one by Ghulam Ali.
His songs for films like Arth, Saath Saath right till Sarfaosh were a testament to his talent.
All one can say is,

तुम चले जाओगे तो sओचेगे , हमने क्या khoya, हमने क्या पाया

note: the trinsliteration does not work as well I ad hoped it would.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

R.I.P Steve Jobs

Today was a momentous day in tech history. One of its brightest stars, Steve Jobs passed away today. The world wide mourning for his passing is to be understood, for, in a field full of innovators, he stood out.
A lot has been written about Steve Jobs since he retired from his company last August. He has been uniformly been praised as one of the bes CEOs, who has turned Apple around, ever since he came back to its fold in 1997. From being a bankrupt company, it is now the second most valuable company.
A look at the various message boards has people discussing Jobs' legacy. While many would like to remember him as a tech innovator, who invented stuff and created products which other people had not thought about, others would like to think of him as a marketing genius, who took existing technologies made them desirable.
Personal, I always felt that Apple fell somewhere in between.
Steve Jobs had a great understanding of what people wanted, coupled with the means to package them in a manner that want became desirability. Apple products were always packaged beautifully. And that, there was the reason for the success for Apple. Though mp3 players existed before the iPod, it was the snazzy packaging of the product that made the product as a must buy. The same was with the imacs. With their colorful, translucent looks, the imacs again were great to look at, making people buy. But that is not to deny that these products were in anyway technically inferior. In fact, they were as good as, or in many cases, better than their windows counterparts, but I say it again, that was not the reason the people thought about buying them. For them, first and foremost, it was the look that mattered as it should, when buying anything.
This attention to looks and details is what led to the advancement in Apple products. The strive towards a small form factor resulted in smaller, slimmer computers. The bulky CPU was done away with, as everything was fit along with the display unit. The iPods and iPads to started becoming slimmer and packed nearly the same power as their bulky brethren.
The iPad, in fact, seemed to be a logical progression of all the advancements, since the casual use rarely uses the keyboard, preferring instead to use the mouse, using the keyboard only to update the social status.
The success of Apple, and also Steve Jobs must also be seen in view of the fact that they operate in very closed environments - interoperability with products other than Apple has always been an issue. While the Apple products seamlessly  work with each other, this is is not possible with the non-Apple products. So, to take full advantage of Apple, one has to buy Apple products from end to end. I personally used an iPod and while I liked it, I found it too restrictive  with regards to loading songs and deleting them. I later switched to Phillips GoGear, which let me listen to my music without much bother of how to load and delete the files, with the same audio quality.
Steve Jobs was able to build Apple to a cult, with loyal users who would buy whatever he built, and that must be appreciated. He was the one rare technologist, who also had the aesthetic sense in him, to make beautiful products, which people later copied. The cult like status allowed him to make risky decisions, like doing away with the floppy drive in the imac, claiming them to be obsolete and sticking with only optical drives, and then later doing away with them as well in the MacBook Air. These decisions had an industry-wide impace, and we are all the better for it.
The future technologists would do well to study the works of Steve Jobs, to learn about how he built an empire, a cult. Like or hate him, one cannot deny that he changed the world around him.