Steve Jobs high-tech yacht unveiled

Yacht ordered by Steve Jobs

A year after he died, a yacht that the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, was working on has finally been launched in the Netherlands.

It's a little under 80m (260 feet) long, made of lightweight aluminium and features 3m (10 feet) high windows.

Just another super-yacht for one of the world's mega-rich you might think, but the clues to the owner of this sleek vessel are there, not least in the many Apple Mac computer screens on the bridge.

The vessel is Jobs's yacht Venus, named for the Roman goddess of love. It has just been launched in Aalsmeer in The Netherlands. The boat has been built by the Dutch custom yacht builders Feadship.

Jobs worked on the plans for the boat with the French product designer Philippe Starck. Starck is well known for designing everything from restaurant interiors, to street lights, to motorcycles.

Simple sailing

The yacht is in Starck's trade mark minimalist style.

"The idea for the boat was very simple," says Starck, "it was mainly philosophical."

Starck admits that Venus "looks strange for a boat" but says its shape comes from design ideas he shared with Jobs.

"Steve and I shared the same idea about the elegance of the minimal, the elegance of work well done".

Rich men's yachts are often accused of being floating gin palaces but Starck insists that his design is more cerebral.

"It is not like a lot of mega yachts showing the vulgarity of money," says Starck. "It's a boat showing the elegance of intelligence."

Image caption Philippe Starck has designed everything from watches to restaurants

The initial idea for the yacht was simple. Starck says he finished the design after just one conversation in which Jobs gave him the length (around 80m) and the number of bedrooms.

But bringing the design to completion was anything but simple.

Boat building

"Steve was very rigorous. You cannot imagine the work we have done on all the details during five years with Steve. Everything is incredibly well done, even a lot better than other boats."

Starck says that Jobs was very pleased with the result of the work. "He said, 'My God, it's better than I could have dreamt'."

Jobs's biographer Walter Isaacson quotes the Apple CEO as saying that he found it hard to stop working on the design.

"I know that it's possible I will die and leave Laurene with a half-built boat," he said. "But I have to keep going on it. If I don't, it's an admission that I'm about to die."

Although Jobs was noted as harnessing high quality design to power the success of Apple's products, Starck says that this product has little to do with Apple.

"There is no relation between this project, done by Steve and me, and Apple. There was never a word about that. There was no relation," says Starck.

Image caption For Steve Jobs, design was the 'soul of human-made creation'

But he admits that there is a shared design philosophy.

"Definitely we are always speaking about this idea, this philosophy of the minimum, but on one side you have an electronic product and on the other a boat, a big boat. It's something else. It is a Steve Jobs work," says Starck.

Apple at the core

Isaacson suggests that there were more links with Apple than Starck might be ready to admit.

He says that Jobs got "the chief engineer of the Apple stores to design a special glass that was able to provide structural support."

Despite its famous designers the Venus has not however escaped criticism. Some critics have said it looks great but wonder how it will handle at sea.

Starck thinks the criticism stupid.

"Every time there's something new, people say stupid things. This boat is definitely one of the best boats ever made. It's not a chair, it's not a watch, it's not a bag, it is a boat, a revolution that is also a real boat."

Jobs died of pancreatic cancer in 2011 unable to see this revolutionary boat go to sea.

Philippe Starck spoke to Newshour on the BBC World Service

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