The Legacy Of Steve Jobs
Minds greater than mine will write the eloquent and fitting tributes to Steve Jobs’ reign as CEO of Apple, both as co-founder and and Renaissance CEO king who could do no wrong.
Me, I’m simply stunned at the suddenness of the announcement.
We all knew this day would soon arrive, but having watched IBM and Apple be both partner, competitor, and “co-opetor” during my own twenty-year tenure at Big Blue, many of us also perhaps came to think of Steve Jobs as invincible.
While it would be easy to sit back and write plaudits and wonderful things about Jobs as a business leader and innovator, it’s much easier to sit back and reminisce about the impact his tools and technologies have had on me personally.
I first used a Mac during one of my first real office jobs in college, using Pagemaker on a Mac SE to put together technical journals and even an underground newspaper. Back then, a portable computer meant carrying your heavy SE down to the local watering hole by hand.
Later, of course, came the first Mac I bought, the iMac, after having been enslaved on Wintel machines for much of my work experience, and later a range of Apple products, from iPods to MacBooks to the first iPad….
What always distinguished the Mac for me was it that they mostly just worked. If I were to compare the countless hours I spent tuning Microsoft Windows-based machines, going into control panels and registries and heaven knows where else I didn’t belong poking around just trying to get the things to run….well, with Apple machines I just did my work.
And that continues to hold true today.
Either I could focus on the work, or I could focus on the technology.
That fact alone may have been a key contributor to Apple’s now prominent economic position in the industry.
With Jobs leaving as CEO, of course, it raises the question as to whether or not that legacy will continue.
The pipeline of Jobs’ influenced products can only last so long. Can former COO and now CEO Tim Cook lead Apple to the new promised land?
I guess that depends on how much you think Apple has become a cult of personality (of Steve Jobs), or one more traditional in nature.
I’ve had friends who’ve worked at Apple who were pretty convincing that Jobs made a lot of decisions at the company, decisions that in a more hierarchical organization would have been made via a more decentralized structure, with seemingly less critical decisions pushed down into the organization.
No matter your belief, there’s no arguing about Jobs’ impact on not only the tech industry, but the media and entertainment industries, operating systems development, publishing, and others as well.
I don’t know how ill Jobs is or how much time he has left with us – none of us knows that about ourselves, for that matter – but I can say with the time he had, Jobs seems to have found his passion and made the most of it, and changed the world in the process.
And for that, we can all be thankful.
He set a high standard for himself and for everyone around him.
In so doing, he forced the rest of the industries he impacted to up their game, bigtime.
Sometimes they won, sometimes they failed, but they were always better off for having stretched by Apple to try and do their very best, just as Apple had.
That, in the end, may be the most crucial of Steve Job’s legacies: Always reaching to that next precipice to bring things to the world that people didn’t even known they needed, and making them better and easier to use all the while.