Saturday, October 6, 2012

Remembering Steve…and his little known connection with Indian ‘Jugaad’

It was the India launch of the new iMac, a pristine white work of art with a hemispherical base, aka the sunflower Mac due to its vague likeness to the flower. The event was being held in a hotel near Connaught Place, Delhi. The Product Manager had flown down from Cupertino for the unveiling. As the Marketing Manager, I wanted to emulate the grand spectacle  Steve Jobs had put up a few days earlier in the US., though at a smaller scale. One of his tricks included a levitation of the  iMac  on a platform followed by 360 degree rotations  to emphasize its beautiful backside. I was skeptical we could pull off the platform levitation bit till we discovered a hydraulic lift from the nearby electrical market in Bhagirath Palace, Chandni Chowk. It worked perfectly.. 

The stage was set, the press and dozens of Mac enthusiasts arrived for their first glimpse of the latest marvel. The final dry run was being conducted 30 minutes before the unveiling and we seemed in perfect control …till the hydraulic lift decided to get jammed . The damn thing just wouldn’t start. The supplier rushed to get a replacement  but given the Delhi traffic there was little chance he could make it unless he  himself levitated all the way to his shop. Not doing the levitation & rotation act would have ruined the entire sequence. Minor heart attacks were happening all around!

Fast forward  40 minutes -  the iMac was launched to thunderous applause in a slick routine that included   levitation and rotation revealing its three dimensional glory – just like Steve’s show at Moscone Centre, SFO.

Here’s what happened behind the scenes.  No, the supplier's replacement never appeared  but the 30 minute gap between the  lift’s act of defiance and the unveiling was just about  enough to find a person of modest height (one of the employees with the hydraulic lift supplier) who could fit into the 5 ft. cylinder encasing the lift. The levitation was mimicked by deftly pushing the iMac platform from underneath by our vertically challenged savior after getting a cue from the Product Manager (which was a knock on the top of the frame). Then he spun around inside the cylinder like a pirouetting ballerina to provide multiple 360 degree views of the iMac.  Our man crouched inside in perfect stillness till the end of the presentation  - luckily someone had the foresight to drill  enough holes to let in precious oxygen and avoid manslaughter. And so the world’ most talked about machine owed its India launch to the flexibility and spinning ability of a guy from Chandni Chowk or the Indian practice of jugaad!

Jugaad is ‘Think Different’  thought differently

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