Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Westside firms with names like Omelet, Ignited and Blitz are pushing clients beyond TV and print ads and onto websites, smartphones and tablets.

Old notions of advertising are being scrambled on the Westside, inside boutique agencies with names like Blitz, Ignited and Omelet.The hot shops are pushing big-brand clients beyond the familiar confines of radio, television, magazines and newspapers and onto the Internet, smartphones, game consoles and tablets.

With more than 42% of the country’s TV homes equipped with digital video recorders, which allow users to fast-forward through commercials, and some younger viewers leaving TV altogether, advertisers are rushing to build Internet infrastructures, create Web videos and funnel content to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

It’s a boom-time business. Ten years ago, companies spent an estimated $6 billion advertising their products and services online, according to eMarketer, which tracks advertising dollars. This year, that number is expected to reach $39.5 billion. Within five years, it could top $60 billion.

It’s not that advertisers are abandoning TV. Last year they spent $68 billion on television commercials, and in two weeks last month they placed orders for $9.1 billion worth of prime-time network spots. But marketers recognize that affluent and younger consumers are as likely to be found glued to their cellphones or the Internet as the TV screen.

L.A. agencies have been in the vanguard of the ad evolution. The region already boasts such prominent creative shops as TBWA\Chiat\Day, RPA and Deutsch LA. Upstarts have taken root in the same narrow band west of the San Diego Freeway, drawn by the proximity to the beach and the nearness of major entertainment hubs, music labels, video game makers and an increasing number of Internet firms, includingGoogle Inc.andYahoo Inc., which have opened outposts in the newly minted Silicon Beach.

At the end of a crowded cul-de-sac in Culver City, more than a dozen young workers cluster around common tables in a warehouse. A makeshift sign on the door reads: Omelet.

“We were at this diner in the Marina, eating omelets, and thought why not?” company co-founder Ryan Fey said. “We didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously.”

“And you’ve got to break some eggs to make an omelet,” co-founder Steven Amato added.

Omelet’s founders met a decade ago while working at Los Angeles’ leading ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, just as the Internet was becoming a viable vehicle for advertising. Amato, 39, was a former playwright turned ad copywriter from Connecticut. Fey, 36, was an Ohio native who started his career as a page for “Late Night With David Letterman,” then worked as a music writer for Spin magazine before joining a large ad agency in New York.

Over months of breakfasts at Nichols diner in Marina del Rey, they plotted how to create their own “storytelling” firm built for the Internet age. The pair and a third co-founder, Shervin Samari, each chipped in $200, which covered one month of office rent.

The agency opened in 2004 and quickly made a splash with silly spoofs created for Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. “Mascot Roommate,” featuring a man in an oversized iced-coffee costume, notched more than 1 million views and spawned sequels, including one so effective that CNN’s Headline News aired it as the real thing and wondered on the air whether the coffee chain would fire the out-of-control mascot.

This year Omelet is on track to triple its 2011 revenue of $23 million. The firm, which has about 45 full-time employees — only two over the age of 40 — has created ads for AT&T Inc., Harley-Davidson Inc., HBO, Microsoft Corp.and NBCUniversal. It designed Internet advertising campaigns and television spots for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Earlier this year it won a large account withWal-Mart Stores Inc.’s corporate headquarters.

Omelet has company. El Segundo-based Ignited exploded onto the scene 13 years ago.

The digital agency now boasts 120 employees and has annual billings of nearly $140 million. The firm, which specializes in Internet display ads, occupies a 55,000-square-foot warehouse that previously hosted a short-lived Internet incubator set up by former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal. Its clients include NBCUniversal,Sony Corp.and Zico coconut water.

“The dollars are clearly shifting this way,” said Eric Johnson, Ignited’s founder and president.

A former top executive at the video game company Activision, Johnson recognized more than a decade ago that young people — particularly young male gamers — were consuming much of their media through nontraditional channels. He figured that eventually mainstream audiences would become heavy Internet users and that established ad agencies would be slow to respond. He was right.

“There has been a fundamental shift in behavior that is shaking the underpinnings of the whole media and marketing industry,” Johnson said. “Everything needs to be digitally connected.”

One of Ignited’s first clients was theU.S. Army, which needed a new way to inspire potential recruits. In 2001, Johnson’s firm helped create “America’s Army,” an Internet video game that turned the adrenaline rush of simulated combat into a recruitment tool.

The game was downloaded 12 million times, Johnson said. “It was a watershed marketing experience.”

Now the challenge is to stand out amid the clutter. Sixty years ago, consumers were exposed to about 100 brand impressions a day.

“Today, the average person sees between 1,500 and 2,000 brand impressions a day: company logos, commercials and billboards,” Johnson said.

The digital revolution has created a bounty of business for another Westside agency — Blitz Digital Studios, which sits above the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Google,Nike Inc., Naked Juice Co., Microsoft,Walt Disney Co.andWarner Bros.Entertainment have commissioned Blitz to customize visually rich Internet campaigns full of motion and interactive elements. One campaign for Hilton Hotels attracted more than 1 million viewers and prompted more than 50,000 people to send Hilton e-cards.

Blitz also created an “augmented reality music video” to promote a new album from singer-songwriter John Mayer. The 3-D video resembled a children’s pop-up book, with Mayer morphing into a guitar-playing, computer-animated character in a video game world.

Blitz currently is working on a digital application for the Irish rock band U2.

“Digital today, in almost every way, is woven into the fabric of how we communicate with others,” said Ivan Todorov, chief executive of Blitz. “Brands and savvy marketers recognize that they need a digital presence.”

The 10-year-old Blitz has been on a hiring binge, snapping up prominent executives from established ad agencies to round out its roster of more than 100 online ad experts. Revenue last year exceeded $16 million.

Last fall, when Whole Foods Market Inc. wanted to find ways to engage customers by sharing stories of the artisans and farmers who supply food for the chain, it turned to the Gen-X crew at Omelet.

“They were cool, not all L.A. flashy,” said Andi Dowda, Whole Foods’ regional marketing coordinator. “They didn’t come in wearing suits telling me what I should do; they listened and tried hard to understand our business goals.”

The result was a series of mini-documentaries for Whole Foods’ in-store monitors, Facebook page and website. The Omelet team interviewed organic turkey growers in Sanger, Calif., and oyster farmers in Morro Bay, Calif.

“We haven’t put a lot of adverting dollars behind these, but they have real appeal,” Dowda said. “And younger people are much more drawn to these online stories than they would be for a TV commercial.”

Online video has become the fastest growing piece of the overall Internet advertising pie. Ten years ago, advertisers spent $48 million creating online videos, according to eMarketer. By 2009, the expenditure had swelled to $1 billion and is expected to top $3 billion this year.

Now Omelet is expanding beyond the Internet. This spring it launched Omelet to Go, which designs and stages live marketing events.

HBO hired the firm to generate a presidential-like motorcade, complete with actors posing as Secret Service agents, to promote the launch of the cable network’s new series”Veep.”

“These worlds are slamming together faster than anyone realized that they would and the shift is undeniable,” Omelet’s Fey said. “But convergence is done. Brands are online, they are in mobile. Now it’s all how you develop technology and apply it.”

meg.james@latimes.com

Originally published by Meg James, in Los Angeles Times, on July 8, 2012

Evernote Buys Notebook App Penultimate

Posted: May 7, 2012 by FMstereo in Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Tech

Evernote, the notetaking and archiving service, has acquirednotebook app Penultimate for an undisclosed sum, reports The Next Web. Evernote has been on something of a buying spree — in August of last year, Evernote bought image editing and sharing app Skitch.
More that simply bringing the app into the Evernote stable, the deal will see Penultimate (blessed with the accolade of 4th most downloaded iPad app of all time back in March this year) developed for a wider range of platforms and devices. Evernote also plans to use the acquisition of the app, developed by San Francisco-based Cocoa Box, to bring improved handwriting recognition to the Evernote service itself.

Evernote can already recognize handwritten text in scanned documents, while the company also licenses this technology to third parties via its Ritescript division. Today’s acquisition opens up the possibility of allowing you to write with your finger or a stylus directly into Evernote apps in the future. Penultimate already supports the saving of notes into your Evernote account.

Penultimate will continue on as a standalone app, with creator Ben Zotto continuing work on it at Evernote. Penultimate is the fourth most downloaded iPad app ever according to Apple. Evernote recently raised a $70 million funding round and is nearing 30 million users.

Penultimate for iPad is available on the App Store for $0.99. [Direct Link]

Originally published on Monday May 7, 2012 9:36 am PDT by Jordan Golson in MacRumors.

Google today announced its long-awaited Google Drive cloud storage service, providing users with 5GB of free storage integrated with Google Docs and other Google services.

Today, we’re introducing Google Drive—a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you’re working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond.

Beyond the free 5GB level, Google offers several levels of paid storage up to 16 TB, all accessible via Google Docs or through clients for PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices — though the iOS app has yet to be released, Google promises it is “coming soon”. One of the biggest features in Drive is the ability to open more than 30 different file types directly in the browser, allowing users without programs like Illustrator and Photoshop to open up files and see what’s inside. The service includes extensive sharing and collaboration features, as well.


The launch of Google Drive comes as several other cloud storage services have augmented their services in recent days. Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which offers users 7GB of free cloud storage, yesterday updated its offering with an updated iOS app [Direct Link] and a preview client for OS X Lion, which allows users to manage their SkyDrive accounts directly from the Finder. Finally, Dropbox extended its file storage service with the ability to quickly share files stored on Dropbox with anyone, simply by creating a link.

Originally published on Tuesday April 24, 2012 10:14 am PDT by Jordan Golson in MacRumors.

It’s not enough to call social media a “trend.” It’s a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, and more business owners are jumping on the bandwagon each and every day.

It’s not surprising, considering the fast-paced and often confusing nature of the industry, that myths and misinformation are prominent. Below are seven of the most common–and the most damaging:

1. “My customers are not active in social media.” Nielsen estimates that social media sites and blogs reach 80% of all active U.S. internet users. Social media isn’t limited to certain demographics. Your customers are out there–it’s up to you to figure out where.

2. “Facebook is the only social media site we need.” Facebook is an ideal platform for reaching consumers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, offers easy access to business owners and professionals. Twitter continues to explode in popularity, currently growing at a rate of 11 accounts per second. LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest all have a valuable role to play as well. Don’t limit yourself to a single social media channel.

3. “I can’t have a significant impact if I don’t have thousands of followers.” While a large audience is certainly desirable, pursue quality over quantity. A hundred Twitter followers or Facebook fans that belong to your target market are better than 10,000 who don’t. Seek to build relationships and provide value to your market; the numbers will take care of themselves.

4. “Pinterest is a passing fad… so I don’t need to establish a presence.” Actually, Pinterest is the fastest growing social network of all time–ignore it at your peril! (Here’s how to get started.)

5. “Social media is great for B2C sales… but not B2B.” LinkedIn is an incredible platform for selling to businesses. Create a profile, get involved in targeted groups and participate in discussions relevant to your industry.

6. “Our customers talk about us on social media without us–we don’t need to create conversation.” Customers who act as brand ambassadors are incredibly valuable, but if you fail to control the conversation, you are leaving the fate of your business in the hands of others. You need a presence in order to respond to criticism and consistently broadcast your brand.

7. “I don’t need a social media strategy.” Many business owners consider social media platforms to be fun and even engaging, but not worthy of a long-term strategy and a system for executing it. But in order to be effective on social media, you must be consistent. And without a systemized approach to social media, it’s impossible for a busy small busy owner to maintain a consistent presence.

[Image: Flickr user Gabe Gross]

Originally published by expert blogger JOHN SOUZA | 04-20-2012 in Fast Company

… pioneering initiative paves the way for retail revolution …

hybris, a global leader in multichannel commerce solutions, has announced the development of a new plug-in for its B2C Commerce solution, in association with the world’s leading family leisure, baby care and toy megastore, Toys “R” Us. The plug-in enables the retailer to link directly to customers searching for products through the Google Local Shopping (GLS) service with the reassurance that its product information and availability is completely up to date.

Local Shopping is a service offered by Google that is designed to bring together local stores and people who are shopping online. Retailers submit the products in their bricks and mortar stores through to Google, enabling them to reach out to customers searching for specific items, and communicating the availability and location of the product at a store close to their own location.

The hybris plug-in has been developed for Toys “R” Us (www.toysrus.co.uk) in partnership with Neoworks, hybris’ specialist ecommerce solutions partner. Neoworks has been responsible for integrating the hybris B2C Commerce platform for the retailer as part of its multichannel strategy in the UK.

Toys “R” Us delivers its stock figures directly from the mainframe each morning, and Neoworks processes these through hybris B2C Commerce in order to deliver three feeds directly to GLS. The first provides up to date details on the locations of stores in the UK, opening times, and other store information. The second confirms the product catalogue available through GLS, and the third is an update of prices and availability of products.

Will White, Head of eCommerce at Toys “R” Us, said: “The hybris plug-in allows us to maximize the Google Local Shopping service by ensuring that information available to customers is always up to date. We are particularly targeting customers who use mobiles to research and locate products, offers and availability of stock. This is an enhancement to our Click & Collect service putting our online customers in touch with our stores to locate and purchase products quickly and easily.”

hybris and Neoworks have further developed the GLS plug-in feature as a built-in function of the new version of the hybris B2C Commerce stack, which is due to be launched in December 2011.

Ariel Luedi, CEO at hybris: “The Google Local Shopping plug-in is a fantastic example of how we can maximise the combined engineering and product development expertise of our own and the Neoworks team. The feature is delivering rich data that enables Toys “R” Us to connect with a broader range of customers and attract them into stores across the UK. Our next step is to roll-out this feature across other European countries.”

Originally published by Hybris

The Verge Year in Review

Posted: December 28, 2011 by FMstereo in Android, Apple, Gaming, General, Google, Market Trends, News, Tech

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2011 was a year of incredible highs and incredible lows. We say that every year, of course, but 2011 felt different: many staffers at The Verge would argue that it’s been the craziest, most drama-filled twelve months in their careers. Trying to neatly wrap up a full year of amazing products, blockbuster acquisitions (and would-be acquisitions), power shifts, and industry-changing announcements into a single article is an enormously challenging task, but let’s give it a shot — and let’s take a quick glance at some of the headlines we’re expecting in the year ahead.

Read the Full Article here!

Originally published by Verge Staff on December 28, 2011 01:31 pm on The Verge.

An SEO Playbook For 2012

Posted: December 9, 2011 by FMstereo in Market Trends, News, SEO
2012 SEO Playbook
Search Engine Optimization is growing up. I am not ready to say the Wild West SEO days are completely eradicated, but in 2011 good search engine optimization is less about trickery and more about engaging content and audience development than ever before.Over the years, quality optimizers have become more prone to avoid technical tricks like using CSS image replacement to inject keyword text or controlling the flow of PageRank by hiding links from search engines.

Search engines keep getting better at crawling and indexing. If you are unwilling to burn your website or risk your career, you follow the search engines’ terms of service.

During 2011 the conservative attitude toward code crossed chasm to apply to content. For years, websites churned-out poorly written, generic articles in the name of long-tail keyword optimization. It worked so well some people turned crappy content into startups.

Now, thanks to Panda, Google’s site-wide penalty for having too much low quality content, people are asking why anyone would put pages on a website that no one wants to read, share or link to? Without taking potshots at the past, most of those articles look juvenile and antiquated.

Made in Japan went from signifying cheap to marvelous. Made for the Web is growing-up too. It is this evolution which guides my SEO highlights for 2012. I separate things to keep in mind by code, design and content.

Code – Keep It Simple

While Google likes to tell us they are very good at crawling and understanding imperfect code, I prefer to assume search engines are dumb and help them every way I can. Simple code is honest code. It’s also easy to parse and analyze. Just because you can AJAX-up a page with accordions and fly-outs does not mean you should. The more code on a page, the more things that can go wrong from spider access to browser compatibility.

Follow standards and get as close to validated markup as reasonably possible. Make it easy for search engines to spider your site. Validating HTML and CSS does not automagically raise your rankings, but it will prevent crawl errors.

At the same time, don’t insist on validation since some perfectly good code will never validate. Follow search engine recommendations to Make AJAXXML  and Other Code Crawl able.

Make your CSS class and ID names obvious, especially for section div tags. Again, Google tells us they have gotten good at identifying headers, sidebars and footers. Part of that is almost assuredly knowing the most common div names.

  • Make it easy on Google and Bing by naming your header div header.
  • Name the CSS ID of your right sidebar div right-sidebar.

Why would you name a CSS Class xbr_001 when you can name it navigation? At the very least, it will make life a lot easier on your SEO team. They have enough work without the need to translate ambiguous naming structures.

Reserve h# tags for outlining principal content. I am amazed at the number of big brand websites that still use h# tags for font design. Tell your designers that h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6 are off-limits and reserved for content writers and editors.

The only exception to this should be if your content management system uses h1 tags to create a proper headline. Embargo h# tags out of your headers, navigation, sidebars and footers too. They don’t belong there.

Web Design – Less Navigation Is More

Look at the Zen like efficiency of any Apple product. Steve Jobs was ruthless about eliminating the unnecessary and achieving clean Bauhaus efficiency.

By contrast, too many websites, especially enterprise sites, try to be all things to all people. Their administrators or managers fear they might miss out on a conversion for lack of a link.

Websites should have clean vertical internal linking. Every page should not link to every page. You do not need a site-wide menu three levels deep. As long as people feel that they are progressing toward their goal or the useful information they seek, they will click on two, three or four links to get there.

Look at your website analytics. Which pages receive the fewest visits? Are any in your navigation? If no one uses a link, why does it to be there?

A website’s most widely visited pages tend to be close to the homepage. Review your categories and sub-categories. Can you eliminate whole categories by merging or reassigning content? For example, does the management team need its own category or can you move it into the About section?

This is not just about eliminating distraction. It is a way to increase the internal flow of authority (PageRank, link juice, etc.) to SEO hub pages.

Content – Engagement & Agility

Emphasize Community and Conversation. If your business depends on the Internet and you have the budget to hire one more person, consider employing a community evangelist. High rankings require authority. Authority comes from off-site links and, to an extent, brand mentions.

Earning enough links to make a dent in your SEO requires a continuous stream of link worthy content combined with forging and fostering relationships with people who create links or influence lots of others through online conversation. This requires a large commitment of time to work with writers and designers and to network. Even when decentralized, this rarely works without a strong empowered leader.

Get out of the sales funnel. The people you want to buy your products or services are not going to blog about your company or mention it on Twitter. More likely, they are peers.

A good exercise to undertake is ask each employee, if they could pick one professional conference to attend, what would it be? Then look for the session speakers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Find which ones are active online and gauge their influence. Are people in your company qualified to write authoritatively about these topics or speak at conferences?

This is how to find content topics for the post-Panda Web, things people want to converse about and link to. For example, if you have a cutting-edge API team, an API development blog could be the key to higher domain authority.

Understand Social Technographics. It will help you to find influencers and create content that people will want to link to and talk about.

Social Technographics

Embrace Agility

Realign your content generation and approval process so you can create near-daily web content and, if necessary, respond publically to something within an hour.

With Query Deserves Freshness, trending topics, news search  and simply because of how social media conversations come and go, agility is important for getting noticed and getting links.

Update Your Content

If your website has older articles that read like Wikipedia or a hardcover World Book Encyclopedia, swap out old content for new. In the future, Panda will not get leaner, it will get meaner. If you have reason to worry, start fixing it now. Do not wait and hope Panda will not see your low quality content. I want to be very clear here:

  • If you have decent quality content that provides real value, keep it whether it is SEO optimized or not. Yes, get to work optimizing older content doing things like selecting hub pages, optimizing text and cross-linking. But do not delete your old content.
  • If you have content that seems overtly advertorial, is cheesy or reads robotic because it is so stuffed with keywords, begin the process of writing one-for-one replacements and update your old content over time. For the old-time SEOs out there, this brings new meaning to a page a day.
  • If you have been hit by Panda already, I suggest removing your poor quality content, set-up 301 redirects to salvage the link authority, then begin rebuilding with high quality, link worthy content. Panda is a site-wide penalty. It is not going to go away until the offending content is removed or replaced.

Those are my 2012 SEO playbook highlights. In the past, content creation and link building were too separated. We had writers covering every long-tail key phrase possible while, in another room, link ninjas emailed and telephoned soliciting for individual links.

That model is becoming less and less sustainable. The Web is too big. Too many people contribute content. Social media offers an entirely new world of context. Today, SEO means finding an audience you can connect with, become a part of the community, give them insanely awesome content and reciprocate. This is the new SEO arms race.

Originally posted on Dec 8, 2011 at 1:24pm ET by  in Search Engine Land.

Google Debuts New Android-Focused Music Download Store

Posted: November 18, 2011 by FMstereo in Google, News

Google yesterday officially unveiled its full Google Music service, including a music download store offering a number of the same features as Apple’s iTunes Store. The newGoogle Music store arrives as part of the Android Market and seems designed to attract users to the Android platform by offering an alternative to Apple’s iTunes ecosystem. Like the iTunes Store, Google Music offers per-track pricing typically ranging from $0.69-$1.29, with over 13 million tracks available for purchase.The store offers more than 13 million tracks from artists on Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, and the global independent rights agency Merlin as well as over 1,000 prominent independent labels including Merge Records, Warp Records, Matador Records, XL Recordings and Naxos. We’ve also partnered with the world’s largest digital distributors of independent music including IODA, INgrooves, The Orchard and Believe Digital.

You can purchase individual songs or entire albums right from your computer or your Android device and they’ll be added instantly to your Google Music library, and accessible anywhere.

Google Music also includes some of the same cloud-based services offered by Apple as part of iCloud and iTunes Match, features that Google rolled out in beta form earlier this year without the support of its own music store. With Google Music, all music purchases from the market are stored online, with users also able to upload up to 20,000 of their own tracks for free.

The company is also integrating the new music service with its Google+ social networking platform, allowing users to post individual tracks to their Google+ pages where friends can take advantage of a one-time free stream of each track.Google is also rolling out an “artist hub” feature, which allows any signed or unsigned artist with distribution rights for their material to create a dedicated Google Music page for a one-time $25 fee. Artists can use their pages to share information and sell their music, with artists able to set their own pricing and receiving 70% of revenue.

One missing piece for Google is Warner Music Group, one of the four major music labels in the United States and which has yet to reach an agreement to have its content distributed through the store. Warner, which is said to still be in talks with Google, is the third-largest record label and holds approximately 20% of the market.

Originally published on Thursday November 17, 2011 11:37 am PST by Eric Slivka on MacRumors.

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs

Posted: October 31, 2011 by FMstereo in Apple, News

By MONA SIMPSON

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people. Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.

I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.

Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.

That’s incredibly simple, but true.

He was the opposite of absent-minded.

He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.

Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.

He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.

He was willing to be misunderstood.

Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With the just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.

They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did.

Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning.

Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.

He treasured happiness.

Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.

Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes.

“You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.

He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.

I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.

He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.

For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to.

By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.

None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.

I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.

Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.

He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.

He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

Mona Simpson is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She delivered this eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University.

Originally published: October 30, 2011 in The New York Times

Time Magazine has cancelled its previously scheduled print run this week in order to put together a retrospective issue on Steve Jobs. In it, Walter Isaacson — Steve Jobs’ biographer — writes a preview of what’s to come, via Fortune. 

In the early summer of 2004, I got a phone call from him. He had been scattershot friendly to me over the years, with occasional bursts of intensity, especially when he was launching a new product that he wanted on the cover of Time or featured on CNN, places where I’d worked. But now that I was no longer at either of those places, I hadn’t heard from him much. We talked a bit about the Aspen Institute, which I had recently joined, and I invited him to speak at our summer campus in Colorado. He’d be happy to come, he said, but not to be onstage. He wanted, instead, to take a walk so we could talk.

That seemed a bit odd. I didn’t yet know that taking a long walk was his preferred way to have a serious conversation. It turned out that he wanted me to write a biography of him. I had recently published one on Benjamin Franklin and was writing one about Albert Einstein, and my initial reaction was to wonder, half jokingly, whether he saw himself as the natural successor in that sequence. Because I assumed that he was still in the middle of an oscillating career that had many more ups and downs left, I demurred. Not now, I said. Maybe in a decade or two, when you retire.

But I later realized that he had called me just before he was going to be operated on for cancer for the first time. As I watched him battle that disease, with an awesome intensity combined with an astonishing emotional romanticism, I came to find him deeply compelling, and I realized how much his personality was ingrained in the products he created. His passions, demons, desires, artistry, devilry and obsession for control were integrally connected to his approach to business, so I decided to try to write his tale as a case study in creativity.

The release date of the book has been moved up twice, and is now October 24th. After Jobs resigned as CEO in August, he knew the end was near. The WSJ reports that Isaacson’s last interview was roughly four weeks ago, and “Jobs indicated at that time that he knew he was going to die soon.”

9to5Mac has another touching excerpt from Isaacson’s Time Magazine essay, which will hit newsstands tomorrow, that reiterates the love Steve Jobs had for his family, especially his children:
A few weeks ago, I visited Jobs for the last time in his Palo Alto, Calif., home. He had moved to a downstairs bedroom because he was too weak to go up and down stairs. He was curled up in some pain, but his mind was still sharp and his humor vibrant. We talked about his childhood, and he gave me some pictures of his father and family to use in my biography. As a writer, I was used to being detached, but I was hit by a wave of sadness as I tried to say goodbye. In order to mask my emotion, I asked the one question that was still puzzling me: Why had he been so eager, during close to 50 interviews and conversations over the course of two years, to open up so much for a book when he was usually so private? “I wanted my kids to know me,” he said. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson will be released on October 24th. It is available via preorder from Amazon/Kindle, the iBookstore, and elsewhere.

Originally published on Thursday October 6, 2011 10:06 am PDT by Jordan Golson in MacRumors.