Imagine the scenario: a billionaire walks into a mobile phone shop. The sales assistant says, “Can I help you?” but gets the reply “Just looking, thank you.” The man tries a few phones, lifting his glasses to look at the detail of the display. He presses a couple of buttons. He shakes his head. He could buy any phone in the shop; in fact he could buy the shop, or even buy the chain. But he doesn’t. He walks out, empty-handed. It sounds like an urban myth but it could be a day in the life of Steve Jobs, who is chief executive of two technology companies that are admired both inside and outside their respective industries: Apple (which makes the iPod and a range of computers) and Pixar (which made the films Toy Story and The Incredibles). Apple made him a multi-millionaire, Pixar made him a billionaire, and the two mean that at the age of 50 he has cemented a unique position as a force in computing, consumer electronics (through the iPod), the music business (the iPod again) and Hollywood. And despite all that, he still can’t choose a mobile phone. (How nice to find you have something in common with such people.) His problem, he says, is that he can’t find things that satisfy him. “I end up not buying a lot of things,” he says, carefully, when I ask how he chooses what to buy from the myriad of gadgets and technologies in the shops. “Because I find them ridiculous.”
Interesting story, given that this anecdote came out right around the same time that the iPhone project must have been kicked off inside Apple. I wonder if there are other interviews over the past few years that will presage future Apple announcements.