A couple of weeks ago, the Apple Watch Series 6 was released. As soon as pre-orders were available, I hurried through the process to purchase three of them — one for me, one for my fiance, and one for my grandmother. When my grandmother’s arrived, we called her into the room and got a response we hadn’t expected. She cried. Her eyes welled up, I noticed that she looked like she might cry and I said, “Are you going to cry?” I was so surprised because she knew we were ordering it for her. Apparently, she didn’t really believe it until she was holding the box in her hands. She’s 87 years old and always wears a watch. She doesn’t recoil when she is presented with technology — we got her used to using an iPad a couple of years ago — but she doesn’t have a need for an iPhone. So, until Apple announced that Family Set-up for the watch was going to be available, we didn’t want to invest in an Apple Watch for her. She understands the value of the device and she actually said, “I’m not worth this,” when we placed the watch on her wrist. The truth is, my grandmother is priceless. I know a lot of people would say that, but this woman raised me. She kept me safe and because of her, I always knew there was at least one person in my corner. Giving her this watch meant the world to her. And I would do it again thousands of times if I could — just to get that reaction of pure joy on her face.
I’m sharing this story today — on the anniversary of Steve Jobs’s death — because I believe it is the essence of Apple products. Joy. This sentiment was echoed by Frederick Allen in an article he wrote about Jobs the day after his death. Allen said, “Steve Jobs, throughout all his brilliant years, had at bottom just one product: joy. That is why he stood above all corporate leaders of our time and probably of any time. He was not an ordinary businessman but an artist of the human experience.”
It is with this in mind that I write this memorial article on the 9th anniversary of his passing. Since 2011, we’ve seen the release of 16 iPhone models, 23 different models of the iPad, and 8 Apple Watch models. Each variation has improved on the last and none of them would have been possible if Jobs hadn’t taken the risks he did with Apple, Inc. Each year on this day I take the time to reflect and refocus on what’s important in life. This year has been tumultuous and as we move into the last 30 days before the presidential election in the United States — so volatility is in the air, even more, these days. Sometimes it feels like we are a powder keg about to explode, but if we follow the lessons of Steve Jobs and think about ‘focus and simplicity,’ our lives could become a lot more clear. Let me take you back to my grandmother’s watch story.
As a lot of people have discovered, when you set an Apple Watch up using Family Set-up – meaning that you are connecting it to a family member’s iPhone – many of the advanced health features like the Blood Oxygen monitor and the EKG measurements are not available. My grandmother’s health has been stable, but not without ailments in the past few years. She has COPD and is a cancer survivor so we thought the ability to monitor her Blood Oxygen levels more frequently would be a great benefit. When I was setting the watch up for her, I noticed that after it was paired to my iPhone that the health features I was looking for were locked out and unavailable. After some research, I found some articles outside of Apple that outlined the roadblocks on the Apple Watch I was discovering.
As one might imagine, this was a frustrating process and by the end of it, I was exhausted. I was finally able to let the frustration go when my fiancé reminded me of the pure joy my grandmother felt when we gave her the watch that afternoon. She didn’t care about the extra features. To her, the watch was a symbol of love from me to her and that was what made it special. Once that was the focus of the watch, everything else became so simple.
Steve Jobs gave us many lessons to learn from. Focus and simplicity is one of the more important ones that I think we should all pause and remember today. It may be work to sort out the noise, but in the end, focus and simplicity can bring you moments of pure joy. Steve, we miss you.
(Featured Photo Credit: AP Photo/Christopher Ena, File. Sept. 20, 2005.)