Category Archives: In Memoriam
Legal academics have had a much larger impact on the development of Internet legal theories and perspectives. But if it were not for Steve Jobs, the field of Internet and Digital Media law would be very limited today. Why? Because while Apple did not invent the internet, nor did they produce any of the applications we use to communicate on the internet (ie- facebook, twitter, youtube), their products made the internet accessible to any one at any time, thus changing forever the paradigm of business and communication, which are both at the crux of internet law. Each year since the 1990′s, business and communication has shifted more and more from traditional forms of newspapers,terrestrial radio, letters, and brick and mortar retail stores, to online journals, email, social networking sites, internet radio and e-commerce. The share of communications tools used in these types of transactions are more and more dominated by Apple products. In this way, Steve Jobs did not just think out of the box, he changed the box in which we think.
Apples internet innovations started with the iMac in 1998, not long after Jobs’s return to Apple. The ‘i’ in iMac stood for ‘internet’, and it was the first major computer designed primarily for internet use. The iMac was not the first computer designed to connect to the internet. It missed that mark by almost 20 years. However, Jobs and Apple recognized early on that the internet was going to change the way the world operated, and designed their products with that in mind. Thus began Apples business model, you do not need to market the first product based on an idea, you only need to improve on what is out there and make it accessible to people. Apple products since then have focused on how the average person thinks, not as MIT educated designer/engineer thinks. The genius of Apple products are they seem to be designed by your 6 year old niece, with such simple, logical, and colorful interface. Apple was not the first to produce an MP3 player, they were years behind the curve with that product, but when the iPod came out, you had to have it. Apple was not the first to produce an internet phone, but when the iPhone came out, you had to have it. Apple was by far not the first company to produce a tablet computer, but I am pretty sure my uber-nerdy law school roomate was the only person in the world who owned one before the iPad came out.
Each of the early versions of these products had one major flaw, they were too complicated for easy use. Steve Jobs did not invent facebook, google, or twitter, but he made it easier to use all of these products. Apple’s primary innovation was three fold: make it simple, make it logical, make it beautiful. And they succeeded.
Some would say that Steve Jobs is the type of person that every lawyer should envy. He doesn’t have a college degree, he dropped out at age 20, started his business at 21 and was worth 8 figures by the time he was 30. Meanwhile, us lawyers struggle through 7 years of college, rack up tons of debt and work our tails off every day just to slice a sliver of the American dream. But thanks to Steve Jobs, and the way he changed the way we communicate and do business, there exists this brand new legal frontier of Internet and Digital Media Law.
All of us in the Internet Legal Profession can say only one thing. Thank you, Steve Jobs. May you Rest in Peace.