If Steve Jobs were alive today, he'd be, um, Steve Jobs

The launch of iPhone 5 and the controversy around Apple's new maps has brought considerable speculation about what Steve Jobs would have done. Why?

"There's no problem with our maps. Really." James Martin/CNET file photo, June 2010

If John Belushi were alive today, would he have become a serious dramatic actor and pulled off a moving "Hamlet" in company of Jack Black? Or Jack White?

If Michael Jackson were alive today, would he choose to be a judge on "American Idol," "The Voice," or "The X Factor"?

Would Jackson insist that Jimi Hendrix join him on the judging panel -- if he were alive today?

Perhaps such speculation is amusing after a glass or four among friends.

And yet, after Apple presented iPhone 5 and the maps insertion led to a mapology , fingers began aggressively pressing keyboards, wondering whether Steve Jobs would have approved such a flawed map product.

It can't be easy to type when you're simultaneously wringing your hands. Yet today, an apogee of sorts was reached when Forbes speculated: "If Steve Jobs were alive today, he would fire Tim Cook."

The more left-brained, no doubt, immediately and involuntarily spouted that if Jobs were alive today, he wouldn't have fired Cook, because Cook wouldn't be the CEO and wouldn't have been ultimately responsible for the maps product.

But even before they would have had time to utter that whole sentence, they would have been mesmerized by "Steve Jobs the Buddhist would not have fired Tim Cook," which was also published by Forbes.

Those cynical enough to see no difference between the motivations of spouses and lapdancers will conclude that this is all merely straining for page views.

But perhaps it's something a little more emotional.

Jobs embodied a company that provided more excitement, on more occasions, in more areas that anyone else in tech.

While his competitors often stared like housewives seeing their first Chippendale, he wandered onto stages and offered little human dramas, punctuated by surprises and even jokes.

He gave tech credibility and fascination not merely among techies or business people, but among real human beings.

One of the reasons people now yearn to wonder what he would have done is that they fear that an era is over and that the next one isn't terribly exciting.

Tech might be the new rock 'n' roll, but the current artists seem as riveting as the members of Genesis.

Fine people all, but who is truly moved by Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, or any of the nice men who wear glasses of one kind or another and run Google?

All the wondering, speculating, and kvetching about what Jobs would have done has little to do with his management skills or even his vision. It's not even about hero worship.

It's a rather sad yearning to imagine that, as developments in tech begin to seem less wondrous -- gosh, that screen is a little longer -- then where's the excitement?

Would Jobs, the man who adored those slightly non-functioning iPhone 4 antennas, have approved the maps product?

It doesn't matter.

What's beginning to gnaw is the fear that tech is less fun now.

 

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