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Steve Jobs: Apples icon

Posted by: iExperience


Steve Jobs portrait courtesy of CNN

Going for a run with your iPod Shuffle, plugging in your iTrip just before a long journey, making an iTunes playlist a few hours before a Friday night party, scrolling through your favourite book with your iPad… all these things and more would not have been the household items and brands they are today without Steve Jobs.

Unless you were in a coma, you would have heard that just last week Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, resigned as Apple’s CEO. So why was so much attention paid to his departure?

It’s simple… his influence on cyberculture and technology cannot be ignored. Wall Street Journal reporter Walt Mossberg could not have put it better:

“Most people are lucky if they can change the world in one important way, but Jobs, in multiple stages of his business career, changed global technology, media and lifestyles in multiple ways on multiple occasions.”


Life and Career

Born and raised in San Francisco, Steve Jobs’ career has charted and defined the rise of the digital era.

It all started in 1976, when he became the co-founder of Apple with Steve Wozniak, in a small but soon-to-be successful garage company. The company’s aim was to revolutionise computing.

Jobs was a pioneer in embracing the techniques of top-class industrial design for the company’s hardware and usability for its software. He also had a great dramatic flair for presentation.

Other CEOs can sell products and/or companies but Jobs could make people believers. No one who saw it has forgotten the company’s 1984 Super Bowl ad that announced the Macintosh. Another “Apple moment” was when Jobs demonstrated the Mac to shareholders. At a time, computers were silent, glorified typewriters but when Jobs turned on the Mac, it spoke, saying “It sure is great to get out of that bag.”

In 1985, after a sales slump and Jobs’ clashes with management, he was ousted. He went on to turn Pixar into one of the world’s most famous animation studios.

He returned to Apple in 1996 and, as Ovuum chief analyst Jan Dawson noted, redefining not only computing but telecoms and the music industry.

Under Jobs, Apple became the exception to every business rule, expanding into markets that might have seemed outside Apple's core strengths. Jobs brought out the iPod and iTunes for all your music demands and the iPhone, a venture into the mobile world.

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech and a member of Apple’s board.

Mossberg believes he was able to revolutionise technology and tools because “he was willing to take big risks on new ideas, and not be satisfied with small innovations fed by market research. He also insisted on high quality and had the guts to leave out features others found essential and to kill technologies, like the floppy drive and the removable battery, he decided were no longer needed. And he has been a brilliant marketer, personally passionate about his products.


The resignation

The announcement was made on Wednesday in a statement from Apple following a letter from Jobs.

In a another statement that night, Apple said that it had appointed Tim Cook, who was recruited to the company by Jobs in 1998, and had elected Jobs chairman of the board, as per his wishes.

In his new role, “Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration,” said Levinson.


Jobs’ battle with cancer

No reason was given for his resignation, but the 56-year-old has been battling cancer for the past eight years now. He was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer of the pancreas in 2003 and underwent surgery the next year.

In April 2009 he received a liver transplant in a further attempt to prevent the spread of the cancer. However, medical observers are beginning to fear that the long-term effects of the required autoimmune drugs could mean that Jobs is still battling the cancer. Jobs is looking particularly gaunt and frail but no official statement regarding his health has been released.


Apple’s Future

Although reports indicate that Jobs’ health and resignation will not affect the company in any way, the news of Job’s departure sent Apples shares plummeting. Share prices dropped by 7% in after-hours trading. This was no surprise considering it was Jobs who had led Apple back from near-bankruptcy after rejoining in 1996 to briefly become the world's most valuable company by market value earlier in August this year.

Regardless of the future of Apple, one thing which most people agree about is the impressive impact Jobs has made to the industry thus far.

TechCrunch's Saul Hansell admires Jobs determination and motivation saying, “It’s hard to think of anyone besides Steve Jobs who through the sheer force of will, self-confidence, vision and perfectionism could upend the powerful forces of technology to make so many products that delighted so many people precisely because they were improbable.”

Steve jobs is certainly leaving behind some big shoes to fill and only time till tell if Cook can handle the heat.


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