Imagine...




From a passer-by in Steve’s neighbourhood, March 2010:

…and there he was in his kitchen window, black turtleneck and all, washing dishes. He just looked up at us, maybe 15 feet away. Nothing in between us but a window, no tall fence (a short, decorative, waist-high one). And we just walked on and proceeded to admire the apple orchard he has in his front yard, and even walked up his driveway a little to see his tulip garden.  [1]


Steve is sitting in his favourite rocking chair in his kitchen. A half-finished bowl of granola doused in apple juice left on the bench. Everything in his home is snow-blind white except for a small Indian drum that Steve picked up a long, long time ago. It rests beside the Apple Time Capsule.
Steve opens an advance copy of Tron Legacy that Disney sent him on his iPad. This is one of the perks of owning the biggest share of Walt’s company. He keeps playing back one particular scene. He streams it across space to the Apple TV unit. The gadget blinks once and sends the video to his seventy-inch Sony Bravia LCD. Steve reminds himself that all of these flat screen TVs in American homes are looking like that flat screens that broadcasted Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel.
He watches the film’s hero, Flynn. He wants to change the world, but he needs help. He creates a copy of himself called Clu. Flynn thinks because he made Clu that he can control him. The copy betrays him and banishes Flynn from the electronic Eden. Steve wonders how long it’s been since he last spoke to John Sculley. He ends play with a single gesture across the iPad’s surface.
He begins browsing through informationweek.com. His finger glides down the article. The headline reads, “Apple iPhone Use Shrinks, Android Grows" (Gonsalves, 2010).  The iPad navigates swiftly from one window to the other. He then touches a New York Times app and reads about his new nemesis, Android Andy:
It’s a numbers game. When you have multiple O.E.M.’s building multiple products in multiple product categories, it’s just a matter of time” before sales of Android phones exceed the sales of proprietary systems like Apple’s ... As to when that would happen, Mister Rubin said, “I don’t know when it might be, but I’m confident it will happen ....

... Open usually wins.[2]
Steve touches his YouTube app. He plays a clip from an L.A nightclub where blind-from-birth performer, Stevie Wonder, takes a break from his set to thank Steve for his iOS:

His company took the challenge in making his technology accessible to everyone. In the spirit of caring and moving the world forward, Steve Jobs… there's nothing on the iPhone or iPad that you can do that I can't do.[3]

Whereas, Android Andy had dropped the ball on accessibility.

Steve clicks on a four-year-old clip of himself at Macworld showing off his iPhone for the first time. The definition is sharper than any other iPad, or Apple product for that matter. The unit Steve is cradling a prototype iPad with “retina display”. The tech rumour mills argue over whether it’s possible or not - but there it is, in his hands.  He’ll hold back on the release of this technology for as long as is prudent. Apple has always been able, but not willing, to give their customers more bang for their buck; but, , of course it’s more profitable to sandbag the market.

The audio is loud and crystal-clear: “We have designed something beautiful for your hand”, the little Steve says. He sees an LED back-lit image of himself opening a pristine menu on the phone. He watches the Steve-image select and open a song...

“I walk a lonely road.
The only road that I have ever known.”

He gazes at himself painted in sixteen million electric colours. He watches himself become less of a man and more of a myth. Well, isn’t a myth simply a mirror? Steve has become a reflection of American hopes and delusions.

He opens his phonebook on his iPhone 4, rapidly finds a number not many people have, and dials it.

"Hey, four-eyes," Steve says to Bill.
"You can't call me that anymore. You have glasses too now", Bill laughs.
Steve looks down at his spectacles on the coffee table. They were designed to mimic his idol John Lennon.
"Yeah, but mine are cooler"
"You are fond of saying that".
Steve starts singing:
"I began to lose control,
I didn’t mean to hurt you,
I’m just a jealous guy,
I’m just a jealous guy."
"Oh jeez, Steve stop it. That’s terrible!" They both laugh.
Steve's iPhone 4 starts losing reception. Bill says,
"You're holding it wrong”
“Shut up, shut up, smartass,” Steve swaps his grip on the phone and then his tone changes from mirth to gravitas.
"Bill, I just wanted to tell you I appreciated what you said at the D5 conference a few years back."
"What’s that?"
"You know how you said about me, 'People come and go in this industry. It’s nice when somebody sticks around'".

Of course, Steve doesn't know where Bill is standing at the moment. Bill looks around at the Nigerian hospital ward. He sees a little girl receiving a polio vaccine paid for by Bill's foundation. He retired from the industry some time ago. Bill is not really 'around' anymore. However, he hasn't the heart to spoil Steve's epiphany.

"Hey, that's cool, Steve". Steve's smile is a little sad around the edges.
"Gotta favour to ask you. I’ll talk to you ‘bout it next week.”
"Okay. Bit busy right now; but look forward talkin’ again."
“Gotta go four-eyes. Got an empire to maintain.”
“Ha ha …”
Steve touches ‘end call’.

Lisa as she walks into the room wearing a smile with just a touch of curiosity. Lisa Brennan-Jobs is now a thirty-two year-old journalist. Her occasional observations can be found in Vogue
and The Oprah Magazine, among others. Lisa asks,

“Talking with your friend, Dad?”
Steve looks up at his daughter.
“Yeah, honey... my friend”. 

The following week, Facebook Mark arrives at Steve’s home to talk about social media. However, Mark realizes Steve may have had an ulterior motive when the surprise guest is Bill. Steve points out that both Bill and Mark are Harvard dropouts. “Although, Bill spent most of the time there playing poker with his buddies Allen and Ballmer. Do all you Harvard losers like poker too? How ‘bout a few rounds of Texas Hold’em?”

Bill produces a No.92 Club Special deck of cards. The red and white deck was a gift from The Dunes in Vegas before it was demolished and replaced with The Bellagio in the 1990s. He shuffles the cards as easily and naturally as a Zen monk breathes.

Mark plays with a youngster’s aggression and arrogance. There is much good-natured humour about the age of his hosts. Bill and Steve are a handful of months apart.
Over-playing your hand is one lesson that an avid poker player like Bill could teach Mark. It is the biggest mistake that most new players make. Bill explains:

“Playing a hand of this nature is like dancing in a mine field. It’s strong in a snapshot moment but not tough enough to cop the pressure from multiple drawing hands. This is why most experts tell you to fold a hand like six-seven pre-flop. When you do improve, it complicates things.  It could cost you so many more bets that it’s not worth speculating from the beginning.”

Mark’s glazed look causes a grin to play at the corner of Steve’s mouth. Bill was having fun confounding the lad.

“The cornerstone of poker is caution. There are lots of gamblers out there who love poker but hate the math. They will chase with eight-nine when the board comes A-6-7 and they won't let go. Like a pit-bull that’s got something by the jugular. They are holding out for that miracle five card so they can make so much cash this one time that it makes up for all the times they were chasing their tail. When you are in front, your mission is to take money from them, but not at the expense of your entire night.”

Bill looks over at Steve and winks conspiratorially. He takes a sip of water to hide a playful grin.
“When you are in front with one or two cards to come you gotta feel the texture of the board. Is it favourable? Is there a drawing-hand out there that was helped by the last card? What could your opponent have been plotting in order to hang on in the face of your pressure? If that third suited card drops you need to know for damn sure that your hand is still the best. If you have overplayed your hand from the get-go it will be too late,” said the world’s richest man.

Mark nods like a kid who is too afraid to tell coach that he doesn’t understand the play.

Steve adds helpfully, “You
spend so much time thinking of the ways you can win that you forget all the ways you can lose. My friend here, Bill… he always won – poker, business, whatever.”

“Sure, sure”, Marks keeps nodding because he doesn’t know what else to do. Steve almost feels sorry for him.

“Are you getting it? Are you getting it, Mark? You can screw people for only so long before it catches up to you and bites you in the ass. Only took eighteen months for the entire industry to switch from cheering you, to hating you”. He looks at Steve startled like he was just caught halfway through a lie.
Now he gets it.


[1] Gawker.com (2010, March 31) A Treasure Trove of Steve Jobs Stories [blog]. Nerdspotting.  Retrieved from: http://gawker.com/5506526/a-treasure-trove-of-steve-jobs-stories
 
[2] Stone, B. (2010, April 27) Google’s Andy Rubin On Everything Android. From Bits [blog]. New York Times. Retrieved from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/googles-andy-rubin-on-everything-android/

[3] Brian, M. (2011, September 15 ) Stevie Wonder sings Steve Jobs’ praises for iOS accessibility. Retrieved from: http://thenextweb.com/apple/2011/09/15/stevie-wonder-sings-steve-jobs-praises-for-ios-accessibility/

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