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Aakash makes Apple relevant for India

As news of the death of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, overflowed in the media last week, one question that arose on social networking sites was: Is the Indian media overdoing the coverage? It is a relevant question because Apple essentially has been America-centric in focus, and the products that Jobs created are not exactly for Asia's commoners.

business Updated: Oct 09, 2011 22:09 IST
N Madhavan

As news of the death of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, overflowed in the media last week, one question that arose on social networking sites was: Is the Indian media overdoing the coverage? It is a relevant question because Apple essentially has been America-centric in focus, and the products that Jobs created are not exactly for Asia's commoners.

We can quibble on media coverage and its extent, but I think there are three reasons why Indians must remember the man.

First, by bringing to the world the home computer through the Mac, he ushered in an explosion in information technology, in which India has emerged as a major power. The smaller computers and the way they connect to networks has helped companies like Infosys emerge and put India on the global economic map.

Second, in a perfect timing only God could have achieved, one day before the icon's death, the main headline in Hindustan Times focused on Aakash, the tablet PC promoted by the government of India for education, costing under $50 (that's under Rs 2,500 roughly) in the open market. The headline talked about India doing "Nano" with the world's cheapest tablet computer. The design and utility inspiration for that is most certainly Steve Jobs's iPad that costs ten times as much with all its fancy, state-of-the-art features.

Now, you can quibble again on Aakash's features as you do on the Tata Nano. Daimler invented the motor car and Daimler Benz makes the Mercedes, but Nano has unique relevance for India - as does Aakash.

Steve Jobs wooed former PepsiCo CEO John Sculley to bring in consumer marketing skills to the computer by saying: "Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life or do you want to work with me and change the world?".

Look hard and you find that Jobs essentially changed America, and it fell upon Bill Gates-led Microsoft and IBM to actually change the world by making the personal computer affordable to millions. But the late Jobs does get the credit for the idea and the audacity to blaze a new trend.

Last, but not the least, as venture capitalist Vinod Khosla noted, Jobs must be celebrated for his ability to think up new ideas and dare to do something about it. For India's emerging entrepreneurs in a growing economy, that could be a big inspiration.

For all those reasons - and not for the fact that he hung out with Himalayan babas for a while - the media could be forgiven for overplaying the man's passing.