Why People are Freaking Out About Steve Jobs Leaving Apple

Written by Larry Port

Jan 18, 2011
Mac Book Plugs
In design, the devil is in the details. Notice how the new MacBook pro charger (bottom) blocks two additional ports.

As of this writing, Apple Stock is down over 13 points after Steve Jobs announced he’s taking another leave of absence from the helm of the company.

Part of me thinks this is an overreaction. But the other part of me suspects Wall Street may be right.

I’ve noticed some slippage, some not-so-Apply things creep into my newer Apple products. And I’ve been on the bandwagon for the past 9 years, since OS X came out.

The first thing that comes to mind is my iPhone4: while it’s a great handheld computer it’s one of the worst phones I’ve owned. The iPhone4 drops more calls than the Miami Dolphins receivers drop passes, and it’s not the network. This is the 3rd phone I’ve had with them, and it’s the least reliable.

Also, I’d like to draw attention to what seems like a detail, but is not really a detail. Per the picture in this post, the charger for my new MacBook Pro blocks two additional ports; an ethernet and firewire connector. The previous charger, which I use whenever I can, was not poorly designed like this and did not prevent me from using the additional ports.

It’s really hard to appreciate good design because when done right, design makes technology natural to use. So we often don’t even see it: good design is often invisible. But when design is done poorly, it sticks out like a sore thumb. And the devil, as is the case with the MacBook Pro charger, is in the details.

Apple very rarely stumbles into the poor design trap. So part of me wonders if the approvals of the iPhone4 antenna and the MacBook Pro charger had their genesis in Steve’s last leave of absence.

Apple’s competitive advantage has always been the attention to detail and elegance of their machines, and the natural usability which draws us to them. Steve, with his manic attention to detail, acts as a goalie for the company’s products. He normally doesn’t let things get by him.

Let’s put anticipating consumer demand aside for a moment. I really hope Apple’s recent slippage with design is not a harbinger of things to come.