A couple of weeks ago a journalist asked me who I would chose to be stuck in a lift with in One Hyde Park . I’m afraid I did not answer their question. Later that day my taxi passed One Hyde Park and the question came into my mind again; in fact, for the rest of the day I could not stop thinking about it.
I most admire people who have worked hard, made their mistakes, have been driven by ambition and have become successful in their business life though their own personality and effort. I have also been particularly interested in people who see that products can, perhaps should, be beautiful as well as fit for purpose.
Last year I saw the movie ‘Jobs’, about Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple (for more experienced readers, that is the computer and phone company, not the Beatles’ record label). I have to say it was a good movie rather than a great one, which is a shame because Jobs’ story is truly extraordinary – “from college dropout into one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century” as the movie website IMDb describes him.
Jobs started Apple Computers in the seventies with his friend and technical genius Steve Wozniak, working from Jobs’ garage in California. Over the course of 10 years Jobs built Apple into a successful computer company which had claim to producing the first widely available personal computer to use a graphics interface (as we now see on all computers) and to be controlled by a mouse. Initially called the Apple McIntosh, we now know it, in its various forms, simply as Mac.
When Jobs was unceremoniously ousted from Apple in 1985, Apple carried on but without the impetus and direction which Jobs had given it. Jobs himself got involved in several new projects, some of which failed. However, during his time away from Apple he co-founded Pixar which went on to be an amazingly successful movie company (Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Cars, etc) and was eventually taken over by Disney in 2006.
Apple brought Jobs back as CEO in the late nineties and he led the company from relative obscurity to become one of the most profitable in the world, introducing a range of products with which we are all familiar – the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Like many people I have, in a very few years, moved from not seeing the need for a smart phone let alone a mobile electronic ‘tablet’, to using my phone and iPad constantly; for me, like many, they are now essential business tools.
When I went to see the movie, I did not know the Jobs’ back story but I did know that he and his friend and Apple designer Jonathan Ive have developed and sold some of the most beautifully functional products in the last decade.
Attempts to successfully combine beauty and functionality is something I come across daily in the prime property market. I see many properties with stunning design and beautiful fittings, but where functionality is compromised. I also come across many properties which seem to perfectly fit the needs of prospective buyers but which fail to excite or just don’t ‘feel right’.
Finding the combination of the aesthetically pleasing and the fit for purpose is rare, and most people recognise it when they find it. It just feels right.
It’s now over four years since Steve Jobs passed away. Like many people I would have loved to have met him, whether in a lift in One Hyde Park or elsewhere. However, I know that, despite not answering the journalist’s question, I will think of Steve Jobs and the questions I would have liked to ask him whenever I am visiting or passing One Hyde Park .
And last year Apple became the most profitable company in history; it’s a truly extraordinary story.