Absurd infinitum: Deliberately misunderstanding Steve Jobs

Jobs was decrying mobile devices that required a stylus for daily use. Nothing more.


Have you ever seen pure dumb in its fully weaponized state? It’s not pretty. The devastation it can create is unparalleled. So grab an ice pack and some Ibuprofen because this one’s gonna hurt.

Apple had a tremendous event this week where it announced the iPad Pro, a completely new Apple TV, and a new lineup of iPhones. Not bad for a week’s work. So, what are many people focusing on?

The Daily Mail proclaims “Steve Jobs would NOT approve: Apple unveils ‘monster’ iPad Pro with a $100 ‘pencil’ the late co-founder famously said nobody wants” (tip o’ the antlers to @papanic).

It would seem that some people do not understand the difference between wanting to wear high heels to a weekend wedding and having to wear them all day every day at your job at the cranberry farm.

The Macalope covered this all the way back in January when iPad Pro rumors where flying around. For those of you who are integer-challenged, that’s… uh, nine minus one… carry the… eight months before the iPad Pro was announced.

…guess what? [Steve Jobs] was right. If you need a stylus for the general operation of a tablet, it’s junk. Is a stylus good to have in certain use cases? Oh, guess what again, that’s a different question.

That’s it. Right there. From eight months ago. Jobs rightly mocked devices that relied on a stylus for everyday use. It’s clear what he meant. But here the Macalope is having to repeat himself because some people consider being comically obtuse some sort of analysis.

Phones should not require a stylus. For proof of that, look at the Samsung Note stylus fiasco. Just look at it. Laying face down in the cake of the poor child whose bar mitzvah it stumbled into, its pants around its ankles sobbingly singing Coldplay lyrics. The terrible thing is, as far as “Oh, God, no, Samsung!” events go, this doesn’t even rank up there with trying to use stalking women as a selling point for their smartwatch. It’s still pretty bad.

There’s a stark difference between what Jobs was talking about and the Apple Pencil as evidenced from the iPad launch itself: The iPad didn’t have a physical keyboard, but Apple offered a keyboard dock on day one. Apple felt physical keyboards were ruining mobile phones and had no place on a tablet, but they still shipped one because sometimes you might want it. Likewise, the iPad Pro doesn’t ship with the Pencil because you don’t need a Pencil to use an iPad Pro. You just may want a Pencil to draw.

Does it really take an advanced degree in interface design to understand the difference here? No. So, if you’re trying to score points by throwing Jobs’ words in Apple’s face, your score is -975, you’ve committed two line faults, been red carded for high sticking and the manager of the Olive Garden is asking you to leave because, as he says, “This is a restaurant, not a field for playing ill-defined sports!”

In fairness to you, Olive Garden is not much of a restaurant. It’s more of a novelty breadstick cannon and sadness machine.

There’s also a fair amount of misunderstanding going on about what Jobs said and when he said it. Here’s the Mail:

…at the 2008 Macworld event, Steve Jobs slated the stylus. 

He said: “Who wants a stylus? You have to get ’em, put ’em away, you lose ’em, yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.”

That was, of course, the 2007 Macworld keynote. But you can’t make a neener-neener omelette without breaking a few factual eggs.

Mashable’s Chris Taylor gets partial credit:

When launching the iPad in 2010, Jobs declared that “if you see a stylus” on tablets, you know that the tablet makers “blew it.”

Jobs didn’t mention a stylus at the January 2010 iPad unveiling. He didn’t mention competing tablets at all. Probably because there were no competing tablets. It was months later at the iPhone OS 4.0 launch (just days after the first iPads shipped) during a Q&A session after the event that he said “…if you see a stylus, they blew it.”

Gizmodo actually links to a piece about the comment being made at the April iPhone OS 4.0 announcement but says about the Pencil:

This is a direct contradiction to the warning of Steve Jobs, who when he presented the first iPad in 2010 had this to say about stylii [sic]: “if you see a stylus, they blew it.”

No and no. Jobs “presented” the iPad in January. And adding a pro tool for specific use cases that’s not required for normal operation of a device is no more a “direct contraction” than the Macalope’s fancy alfalfa trough is a “direct contraction” to his everyday one.

Jobs yelled at a lot of people, but the Macalope doubts he ever berated an artist for using a stylus with a Wacom tablet. You might be able to make the case that Jobs would have thought the Pencil was too niche a product for Apple to spend time on. But, then, it was patented while he was still alive and there’s that iPad keyboard.

Now that Apple’s finally shipped the Pencil, maybe now we can put this righteous misunderstanding of his words to rest. And get on with all-new absurdity.

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