…Jobs simply understood that Edison’s axiom had expired. Those devices that were born of necessity, electrified versions of ancient tools, had been invented. Our washing machines, our flashlights, our electric drills and saws, we have those already. Those needs—more usable and convenient versions of ancient activities—have for the most part been met. Edison’s statement that “necessity is the mother of invention” is simply no longer true.
Certainly the world has needs for new inventions to address old problems, but these tend to be unique and localized needs, not products of mass-production that can sweep the world. Today, inventions of mass significance must be the “mother of necessity,” and that has been true for decades.
Jobs took this new axiom and amplified it with focused simplification; a basic design school precept that most people lose sight of shortly after graduation. Almost every great work of architecture or other functional art (at least those with staying power) does this: its design distills an idea to its core, and pushes its idea to the forefront.
Not exactly a call for beatification, but an impressive achievement.