With the news of the passing of Steve Jobs, numerous websites and media outlets will waste no time in rightfully identifying the impact Apple’s co-founder and long time CEO had not only on technology but other mediums such as music and television. Praise will be placed upon a man whose ability to push his employees to reach unparalleled creative heights was unmatched in the consumer electronics industry.
Mr. Jobs was a vanguard, a man who took the philosophy of crafting innovation for the masses and he made it an art form. One needs to look no further than in their pocket, be it their iPhone or iPod, to see the aesthetic beauty that was the trademark of Steve Jobs’ Apple.
Mr. Jobs was able to create brands that transcended the technology. It wasn’t an MP3 player, it was an iPod. It wasn’t a handset, it was an iPhone. The latest proof of this may not be realized right now, but it’s only a matter of time before it’s not a tablet, but an iPad. No CEO was able to take technology and make it a brand better than Steve Jobs.
I never met Steve Jobs. Neither had any of my friends and I believe most of my co-workers. But I can say without a doubt that his legacy of work had impacted all of us in some way, shape or form. Look no further than yesterday’s iPhone 4S announcement. My co-workers, friends and I huddled around our computers watching live "blog-casts" of a product announcement and quickly took to Twitter and Facebook to discuss what they saw. In no other industry and with no other product or brand do you see that type of large-scale interest. No one anxiously discusses a new flavor of Coca-Cola, despite it being the most recognized brand in the world. Steve Jobs made the appeal of Apple so strong, and made loyalty to Apple so welcoming, that even in his absence, people still cared to see what Apple’s next big thing was.
On a personal level, I truly believe that it was the products of Steve Jobs tenure at Apple that made teardowns seem "cool" to the general public. Prior to that, my co-workers and I would take apart consumer electronics and post our findings on YouTube where a niche segment of the electronically curious would wait to see our dissection like watching an autopsy. Then came the announcement of the first cellular smartphone from Apple, the iPhone. I’ll never forget the whirlwind of picking up the original iPhone in Boston after waiting in line for 12 hours, flying back to Ottawa and then working through the night with our teardown team to get a video out detailing what was in, what would turn out to be a revolutionary handset. Suddenly, everyone from the local media to CNN was suddenly interested in how and why we took apart things. Mr. Jobs created products so appealing, that even what was inside them was need-to-know information.
Having a chance to teardown practically every Apple device in the last six years, I can honestly say that the technology that comprised each of his products were never really leading-edge. Even the iPhone that was praised for using a touchscreen was reminiscent of more obscure products already on the market. But therein lies the genius of Steve Jobs. I consider the art of crafting a design akin to that of composing a song. Everyone has access to the same notes but only Steve Jobs was able to inspire and make those notes into a symphony when the rest of the world was still making simple melodies.
Mr. Jobs was a great American success story. From college dropout, to computer manufacturing CEO, to disgraced leader, and finally the chapter straight from the movies of the "prodigal son" returning Apple to prominence, Steve’s story is one of hard work, perseverance, innovation and most importantly, a genuine interest in the people who loved his products. No CEO epitomized giving his customers what they wanted, even if they didn’t know they wanted it yet, than Steve Jobs.
Because of that, not only the electronics industry, but the whole world, will miss him.
R.I.P. Steve Jobs,1955-2011.
Allan Yogasingham is a technical marketing manager at UBM TechInsights, a sister company to EE Times.