Steve Jobs’ Gift to the World: The “Smart” Revolution

When I first visited China, 12 years ago, I was stunned to see a man carrying a pole across his shoulders dangling two loaded baskets – just a block off The Bund, in the shadow of Shanghai’s skyscrapers. So last week, walking down the main street of Lhasa, Tibet, I was a little less surprised to see a man carrying a similar burden. But, this time, he stopped to pull his smart phone out of his pocket and make a call. Then, at the “Yogurt Festival” celebration at Norbulingka (the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace), thousands of Tibetans streamed through the grounds – most of whom wore traditional dress, augmented with their smart phones.
 
Traveling through several ASEAN countries over the past nine days, it strikes me that, with the introduction of the iPhone 10 years ago, Steve Jobs unleashed a Global “Smart” Revolution: connecting, educating, and entertaining people in even the poorest countries. While most of the smart phone users I’ve encountered on the streets of Tibet, Myanmar, and Indonesia don’t have iPhones (“they’re too expensive”), they do have plenty of Android models. Today, Indian villagers are taking online college courses (MOOCs) on their smart phones, global newsfeeds announce the news as it’s happening, and teens and adults alike can’t seem to take enough selfies and pictures of each other.
 
And that doesn’t begin to touch the Apps! Just this past week, in areas where it seemed only one person in a million spoke English, shopping would have been impossible without “Google Translate” (supplemented with “Google Images”). When turned around in a foreign city, “Google Maps” really does have your back. Translating currency, temperatures, and weights is a snap with “Units Plus.” “Momondo” is even easier to use than “Kayak” for finding the best flights. And, although it’s not an App, the iPhone’s “World Clock” and “Alarm” features are life savers.
 
With no offense to IBM, it truly was Steve Jobs who made our world a smarter planet.
 
by Mimi Grant, President, Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization – Round Tables and Events for CEOs of Technology and Healthcare Companies