San Francisco, Macworld 2007, Steve Jobs is introducing the first generation iPhone. Unlike any other smartphone in its era, it has just one button and a huge (for its time) touch-sensitive screen. Steve Jobs asks the audience:

“How are we gonna communicate with this, we don’t wanna carry around a mouse right? So what are we gonna do?” He pauses for effect. Then with a fake air of sudden realization he asks,”oh a stylus right, we’re gonna use a stylus? Pause again…. (overemphasized)”No!”. The audience cracks up.

“Who wants a stylus?”, he asks rhetorically. “You have to get ’em and put ’em away, then you lose ’em – Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus so let’s not use a stylus”. He goes on to explain why our fingers make the best pointing devices. It was a mind-blowing concept, at the time,  that changed the way we interact with our smartphones forever.

Once, in response to a question about why iOS had no task manger, he said: “it’s like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it. In multitasking, if you see a task manager… they blew it. Users shouldn’t ever have to think about it.” Samsung apparently thought otherwise. The first Galaxy Note was announced in September of 2011 (just before Steve Jobs passed on in October) and it came with a stylus. Samsung has gone on to prove that the stylus is indeed relevant and Steve Jobs was very wrong.

Well, as it turns out, Apple just recently won a patent for their very own S-pen like stylus. Of course, in very Apple manner, it will have very novel functionalities – orientation detection, in-air gestures, audio recording, camera and projector functionalities. Really interesting stuff. Could it be that the Tim Cook led Apple is finally budging under pressure from Samsung? If Steve Jobs was still alive, would he have allowed this? Or could it be that Apple was secretly working on this technology under Steve Jobs? We might never know, as Apple are not the type to ever let these things leak before announcement day. Either way, Steve Jobs is probably rolling in his grave right now.

Muyiwa Matuluko Author

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