Just to add to this, I think we also have to acknowledge that fascism just works. Frankly, a lot of the technology that Apple adds to OS X is hardly earth shattering, but they can make it work and get it adopted by a large audience with surprisingly few problems because they have total control. I'm no expert, but I have been using Linux for over a decade (Slackware 96 was my first distro and I even used a version of Debian with a Linux 1.x kernel), and I have witnessed many attempts to get new and interesting systems added to Linux. Democracy is slow. Look at all the effort it took to get Pulse working in a reasonable fashion. I'm no Pulse hater, I think it is an amazing piece of software, but the growing pains were agonizing. Even standardizing on X11 drivers infrastructure has been difficult (there were at least 2 versions of Ubuntu that contained major regressions in Intel graphics drivers). All of this leads to fragmentation and compatibility problems.
OS X is impressive because it suffers from this less. The total control wielded by Steve Jobs allows Apple to introduce new(ish) technologies in a timely manner. Yes, things like Grand Central or Time Machine may not be entirely unique, but they work and are available to a large audience.
I don't think that geeks give Steve Jobs a free pass. I think they just acknowledge that his way of doing things has been very successful in the grand scheme of things. OS X is an impressive piece of software that brings to the table many of the things that Linux folk have been talking about for years.