It took me awhile to warm up to the iPod, partly because I was not a fan of Apple Computer. My computer experience was driven by Windows software and Intel chips. The Apple Mac was from a different world. No matter how many times people would tell me that the Apple operating system was easy to use, I could never get used to it. I didn't hate Apple. I hardly thought about Apple. But, when I tried to use an Apple product, I couldn't. It was not user friendly to me. I was a Microsoft Windows guy.
But then I got an iPod as a gift and it was so user friendly that it was impossible to ignore. My wife and I gave an iPad to my 75 year-old mother and as she said "it changed her life." I bought an iPad, and it is truly amazing technology. Every salesman in our company now has an iPad.
Steve Jobs and Apple were relentless in making their technology useful to everyone. And even a person who did not initially find their products helpful, has been brought into the fold. Steve Jobs did this. We all know his story – founder of Apple, drummed out of the company, but brought back in to save it. He was the consummate "entrepreneur."
Many people use the term entrepreneur, but few truly understand it. Ludwig von Mises, in his book Human Action, carves out a special place for entrepreneurs in the world of economics. At econlib.org there is a searchable copy of Human Action – here are a few quotes from that book.
The entrepreneur is the agency that prevents the persistence of a state of production unsuitable to fill the most urgent wants of the consumers in the cheapest way. All people are anxious for the best possible satisfaction of their wants and are in this sense striving after the highest profit they can reap. The mentality of the promoters, speculators, and entrepreneurs is not different from that of their fellow men. They are merely superior to the masses in mental power and energy. They are the leaders on the way toward material progress. They are the first to understand that there is a discrepancy between what is done and what could be done. They guess what the consumers would like to have and are intent upon providing them with these things.
Like every acting man, the entrepreneur is always a speculator. He deals with the uncertain conditions of the future. His success or failure depends on the correctness of his anticipation of uncertain events. If he fails in his understanding of things to come, he is doomed. The only source from which an entrepreneur's profits stem is his ability to anticipate better than other people the future demand of the consumers.
If all entrepreneurs were to anticipate correctly the future state of the market, there would be neither profits nor losses. The prices of all the factors of production would already today be fully adjusted to tomorrow's prices of the products.
Profits indicate success for an entrepreneur and in this measure Steve Jobs was a massive success. Taxing away these profits, making profits evil, or regulating entrepreneurs with political motivation subtracts from the benefits that entrepreneurs bring to society.
The world needs more Steve Jobs, not fewer. The world is celebrating his life today and mourning his passing. I will always remember him as an entrepreneur– the one who didn't give up until he found a way to get his products in my hand and convince me that they could help make me more productive. He did that. Steve Jobs, RIP.