Motive Academy

Steve Jobs vs. the iPad Stylus Round 2

“If you see a stylus they failed” with those words Steve Jobs planted a tombstone on the stylus. He was completely right. As a user interface method multi touch is far better than a stylus. In fact using your finger to touch the internet is so far superior there really was no competition in the first place.

Steve Jobs during his time at NeXT, explaining his market strategy.

Everyone knows how Steve Jobs felt about the iPad stylus, but very few people know how much he loved to draw his ideas on a whiteboard. In his official biography by Walter Isaacson there are many stories of Steve Jobs drawing on a whiteboard to explain his ideas. Here are a few,

-To explain the concept of the Apple Store to members of the board.

-To show an engineer how the iDVD interface should look and work.

-To create the simple strategy of focusing on a few major products that ended up saving Apple upon his return in 1997.

The iPad is the ultimate whiteboard. You can share your ideas instantly with anyone and keep all of your new ideas with you at all times.

Steve Jobs didn’t change his mind often, but I would like to think that he would have eventually replaced drawing on a whiteboard with drawing on an iPad. He might have even realized that drawing with your finger isn’t easy. It’s a long shot, but just maybe he would have been tempted to find an iPad stylus that he enjoyed using to draw. That’s really what a stylus is by its very nature, a useful tool, not a user interface device.

Sketching something or scribbling a quick note is a completely different method of thinking in comparison to typing in a word document. One is quick and stream of consciousness and the other is much more rational and precise. One is phrases and sketches the other is fully constructed sentences. They are both valuable processes for different reasons. When we’re doing it we don’t realize it consciously, but it is easier to develop ideas when the process is more informal. There’s a reason that Steve Jobs used a whiteboard in meetings. Drawing was a part of his thought process.

Unfortunately we’ll never know if Steve Jobs would have ever come around to using an iPad stylus to draw on his iPad. I would like to think he would have at least been tempted.


  • call forwarding

    Great article! I agree with this post!S Multi touch is more convenient to use than with stylus.