Goodbye Steve Jobs

Stefan Hammond
10 Oct 2011

At Macworld 2002 in New York City, I watched Steve Jobs stride onto stage without introduction and immediately launch into one of his trademark keynotes. His black sweater and jeans look--a deliberate nose-thumbing at the suit/jacket/tie corporate uniform--suited his seemingly off-the-cuff presentation. Apple Computer, as they were then known, was making its popular new consumer device, the iPod, compatible with Windows, something the Mac maniacs in the audience applauded. They applauded everything, even announced price-hikes.

The Cult of Jobs was in full swing, and gadgets like the iPhone and iPad weren't on the radar. Yet even this year, snarky comments often accuse those praising Apple devices of being "Jobsian fanbois." The man and his company, it seemed, were inseparable.

But as Steve's illness began to take him over, his appearances became fewer and medical leaves of absence more frequent, and new CEO Tim Cook took the stage to announce Apple's latest products. On October 5, Jobs passed away at the age of 56.

It's always sad to see someone go before their time, and given the impact Jobs had--not only on personal computers and electronic devices but the music and film industries as well--the next week or two will feature reams of Jobsian-related prose. Apple showed the music industry how to sell digital music, and created an ecosystem for the process.

Hardly a surprise: Apple's model was all about vertically integrated ecosystems. As I told friends who complained that their systems wouldn't work because the software and hardware vendors were blaming each other, you could take an under-warranty Mac with a serious hardware problem to Apple's fix-it guys and say: "give it back to me in the state you sold it to me"--as long as you'd backed up your data, you were back in business. That was Apple: with a market share hovering around two or three percent, they couldn't afford a reputation for lousy service. Their numerous awards for design and well constructed gear kept them afloat, even during the years when John Sculley was CEO and Jobs was off running NeXt Computer.

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