I encourage you to read Mike Daisey’s New York Times op-ed eulogizing Steve Jobs. It is both tough and fair.
For what it’s worth, I think that Apple’s move toward a closed model of computing, which I have discussed before is justifiable as a technical choice. Is it what I would prefer? No. But it provides customers with both benefits and costs, and each of us can choose whether we think the tradeoffs are worth it.
The more damning indictment is that Steve Jobs failed to lead Apple to a more humane and fair labor arrangement when it comes to manufacturing its devices. I’ve written about that before as well. Apple generates huge amounts of cash — if they wanted to move all of their manufacturing to Long Island over the course of a decade, they could. Sure, it wouldn’t be easy, but it would be truly world changing. At a time when other technology companies are importing sweatshop conditions to America, it really would be a way to Think Different.
The death of Steve Jobs is, of course, sad, and is also notable. He is arguably the greatest businessman of his generation. If we’re going to dwell on it, it should be to reflect on which aspects of his legacy we should emulate and which we should discard.