The more time you spend around people in the tech industry, the more you realize just how important some of them think they are. When one is from outside the milieu, this can sometimes seem a little strange.
Now evidence has emerged that might give some in the tech industry pause for reflection. And I don't mean staring at their own gorgeous reflection in the mirror.
A survey performed by the Lewis PR company, brought to my joyously watering eyes by TheNextWeb, revealed that 20 percent of Brits questioned thought Steve Jobs was what they call a footballer and what Americans sweetly describe as a soccer player.
Though many of you will toss your mice up in horror at the mere concept, I must admit I am not in the least bit surprised. It's not that Brits are uneducated or unaware. They are really quite bright, in a bookish sort of way. Moreover, if you watch the footage of the survey interviews I have embedded here, the surveyors questioned American and French people who happened to be in the U.K. too.
No, this result is unsurprising because "Steve Jobs" really does sound like a soccer player. His is the name of a dour, destructive lower-league midfielder who repeatedly gets yellow cards for late, over-the-top tackles that result in severe injuries to opponents. The name conjures up a man who spits a lot, pulls his opponents by the tiny hairs on their lower back, and stares menacingly at referees and handsome males in bars.
For those who have no interest at all in the personalities (such as they are) of the business world--never mind the narrow personalities of the tech world--Steve Jobs might as well be a soccer player. Or, as the 10 percent of the 1,000 respondents thought, a trade union leader.
The fact is, you see, that the majority of the world has no interest in the personalities of the business world. In this same survey, 5 percent of respondents thought Bill Gates was one of the Great Train Robbers of the 1960s. These people were probably confusing him with Ronnie Biggs, who also, now that one thinks about it, sounds like a destructive lower-league midfielder.
I know there will be some who will chuckle at this footage, muttering to themselves that they can't believe just how stupid people (even Brits) can be. But these are the real people who buy tech products. These are the people who, as you will see in this footage, believe that phishing, if they have ever heard of it, is something to do with "rude things on the Internet." These are the people for whom, as for 88 percent of respondents in this survey, Twitter is entirely unknown.
Real people are, even in these supposedly technological times, still not quite like tech people.
Sometimes it's worth remembering that selling to real people isn't about blinding them with features and dazzling them with buttons. It's about appealing to their right brain, not their left. It's about making them feel comfortable with picking up a simple, attractive gadget and having some easy sense of what they might do with it.
And this is something that Steve Jobs, the one who isn't a destructive lower-level soccer player and certainly doesn't dress like one, understands so very, very well.