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If you are immune to that kind of thing, or you think it somehow weak, pretentious, artsy-fartsy or unbusinesslike, then there are enough functional objects in the market for you. But you might consider this: from the starting point of delight, detail, finish, polish and design come not, it seems, shallow high-end toys for the affluent but increasingly products that are ... well, awesomely functional. The iPhone App Store has certainly offered silly digital tchotchkes, but more and more serious professional tools are emerging for medical, military and industrial use too. The iPhone, like the Mac, was derided upon introduction as a plaything, but it transformed the smart-phone landscape, causing Apple's competitors to scramble out their own version of touchscreen phones and app stores with unseemly haste. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Google and Microsoft's flattery of Apple over the past two years has been nothing short of hero worship. Few doubt the iPad will be aped as well.
"It's not for us to predict what others will do," Ive says. "We have to concentrate on what we think is right and offer it up." Ive's focus and perfectionism are legendary. Any conversation with him is about hours of work, about refusing to be satisfied until the tiniest things are absolutely right. He's most pleased with what consumers will never notice. He wants them to use the iPad without considering the thousands of decisions and innovations that have gone into what seems a natural and unmediated interaction. "If it works beautifully, it should also work robustly," he says. "It's made for people to chuck onto the car seat and thrust into luggage without thinking. It's not to be delicate with. Have you tried it yet?"
"No," I reply. "There's still someone I have to see ..."
Stephen, Meet Steve
I have met Five British Prime Ministers, two American Presidents, Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson and the Queen. My hour with Steve Jobs certainly made me more nervous than any of those encounters. I know what you are thinking, but it's the truth. I do believe Jobs to be a truly great figure, one of the small group of innovators who have changed the world. He exists somewhere between showman, perfectionist overseer, visionary, enthusiast and opportunist, and his insistence upon design, detail, finish, quality, ease of use and reliability are a huge part of Apple's success. Where Ive is quiet, modest and self-effacing, Jobs is confident, assured and open. For some, his personal magnetism is almost of a dangerous, Elmer Gantry kind. They call the charisma emanating from his keynote addresses "Steve's reality-distortion field."