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I’m with Apple on This One

steve-jobsWhy? Because I believe that Steve Jobs, always honest to the point of recklessness, genuinely felt that he was being stolen from, that he had enough business acumen to make that determination, he really did not like being stolen from, he had no interest in making symbiotic licensing deals (in most cases), and this was personal to him. Somehow that just wins me over. Were I on the jury, I’d have voted for Apple, no question.

Regarding the rubber banding patent, Steve told Samsung two years ago something along the lines of “This is something we invented. Don’t copy it. Don’t steal it.” That sounds sincere to me, versus for example not saying that to a competitor to set a bear trap to sue them for a billion dollars a few years later or shake them down for hefty licensing agreements.

From Steve’s bio:

When the guy moved the cursor over the icons crammed into the dock, the cursor mimicked a magnifying glass and made each icon balloon bigger. “I said, ‘My God,’ and hired him on the spot,” Jobs recalled. The feature became a lovable part of Mac OS X, and the designer went on to design such things as inertial scrolling for multi-touch screens (the delightful feature that makes the screen keep gliding for a moment after you’ve finished swiping).

Steve was truly proud of this accomplishment of Apple and his eye for this job applicant’s talent:

I was giving the demo to someone a little while ago, and I finished the demo and I said what do you think? They said, “You had me at scrolling.”

From an interview with AllThingsD (clip) back in 2010:

I asked our people about it [a tablet], and six months later they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He got [rubber band] scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, “My God, we can build a phone with this.” So we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the iPhone.

If you pull it up yourself, read the abstract and then skim down the 44 pages, you might agree with me albeit from a layman’s perspective that Apple’s rubber band patent, 7,469,381, is, unlike a chunk of other patents I’ve read, not a bullshit “first post” patent, and should be as enforceable as any other not-obviously-bullshit patent. I don’t see anything wrong with it, and that it’s a clutch patent to have nowadays shouldn’t make it unenforceable, and this jury agrees. So don’t steal it.

Back to Steve, and I never googled this or heard anyone suggest it but I think the man was bipolar. Not just OCD or an extreme perfectionist with a vivacious personality (though he certainly was that as well), but a manic depressive of some degree. I think, ironically, if he hadn’t been, he wouldn’t have been so successful and revered.

I almost majored in psych, so I’m clearly an authority on this.

Steve, to put it mildly, spoke his mind. We know he saw a shrink, we know all he wanted to do was destroy Google for stealing from him even if it means spending every last one of Apple’s dimes. Steve was regarded by at least some employees as rude, dismissive, hostile and spiteful, that he screams at subordinates frequently, that he told his PR lady her suit was disgusting and so forth. That dark side aside, Steve may have had the perfect blend of manic depression, genius and treatment to have led him to such success, to being an icon, to building a huge company whose stock dives ten percent because he takes a sick day.

Somehow being routinely hypomanic in a manner that captivates crowds while managing to dodge enough depressive episodes, not to mention full mania, and hospitalizations to keep it under wraps, when being subjected to tremendous stressors of all sorts and constructing Apple, all I can say is kudos to his shrink.

You want a Steve quote? I’ll give you a Steve quote, one that I think bolsters my crazy case against him without the quote being a crazy-sounding one:

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

You know who talks like that? Manic depressives. Eloquent manic depressives. In addition to the boldfacing of the obvious in the beginning, his identifying himself as a crazy one, misfit and a troublemaker, he believed he somehow sees things differently and gets vilified but his genius cannot be ignored because as a result of his being a crazy genius he makes the world a better place which is a noticeable thing to do. Almost messianic.

Manic depressives see things differently depending on the season or the time of day or whether they took their meds this morning (and of course see things quite differently when psychotic). Manic depressives, when at least somewhat manic, are hyperproductive and wildly self-confident with both delusions of grandeur and of persecution. Manic depressives are impulsive, hot tempered and may be inclined to “go thermonuclear” on their business rivals. Manic depressives have a tendency to be prolific artists, and  many more of them would be if they didn’t keep failing to get the proper treatment, losing their minds and their lives, both figuratively and literally.

SteveJobs-e1314280685486The thought of a CEO having such a serious disease is quite extraordinary, parenthetically.

Manic depression is not just a layer on someone’s behavior that can be softened and made transparent with treatment – it’s part of who someone is. By who I mean roughly one in five of the people around you. Jimi Hendrix aptly characterized it as a frustrating mess which captured his soul. Even if treated exceptionally well, one’s manic depression is evident in what they think, say and do and, minus the flagrantly and clinically crazy signs, Steve Jobs has manic depression written all over him.

Along with his charisma and ability to cultivate what by anyone’s account was and still is a cult-like following of patrons and employees, also successors, who would want to carry on his legacy and convictions, I further think Steve’s sincerity, his candor, was partly characteristic and symptomatic of, or facilitated by, his manic depression. So to bring it back to my first point, when Steve says that someone’s stealing from him and tells that person to stop stealing from him, I believe him. I believe he was smart enough to identify that was theft, but not too crazy enough to delusionally and erroneously think it’s theft. And, incidentally, I don’t think the patent’s bullshit.

So, as much as I don’t like to see the Android world get winded like this, I’m with Apple on this one. And, again, kudos to Steve’s shrink.

So now that I’m done writing a bunch of wild and completely unfounded conjecture, I’ll go ahead and start googling this, and here’s my first stop.

Doug Simmons