A while ago, a friend asked me if I would ever cry over a celebrity death. I said, “Of course I would not”.
But this morning, I woke up to the terrible news of Steve Jobs’s passing.
And I cried.
Steve wasn’t a celebrity. He was a man who changed the world.
I didn’t just cry over the loss of a brilliant man. I also cried over death. Death by cancer. Death by liver cancer. And he was only 56. I don’t think I ever mentioned it here, but we lost our father three years ago to liver cancer as well. It was sudden. He was only 53. Another brilliant, kind man, lost forever.
Appropriately enough, this month’s Venture Hyperlink column was a tribute to Steve. He was alive when I wrote it.
You know, it isn’t about resting in peace. Screw peace. If Steve Jobs taught me anything, he taught me to be damn disruptive.
What it’s really about is living forever. Steve Jobs will definitely live forever through his inventions. My father will live forever through his children.
This it to all cancer victims and their families. Disrupt.
I guess now it really is time to get that Apple tattoo.
His Jobness Steve: A Tribute
By Roba Al-Assi
Published in Venture Magazine, September 2011
The day has come, and it has come too soon. Steve Jobs, the living legend, has stepped down as CEO of Apple.
For those of us who do not recall a life before the brilliance of Steve Jobs, the news struck momentary terror. This is, after all, the man who brought us the Macintosh, and by doing so changed the very idea of personal computing. He introduced the world to computer-animated box office hits with Pixar. He reinvented the music industry by bringing us the iTunes/iPod combination. More than anyone else, Steve Jobs brought digital technology to the masses.
In a letter that quickly became the most discussed item on the Internet at the time, Jobs proclaimed: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s C.E.O. I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”
Naturally, Steve Jobs’s career is already the stuff of legend. He co-founded Apple Computer with highschool friend Steve Wozniak in 1976, after which they released the Apple II, a computer that helped ignite the personal computing revolution. In 1984, announced with the most famous Super Bowl ad of all-time, the world met the first Macintosh, which became the first commercially successful personal computer. Amazingly, the user experience concepts that the Macintosh introduced in 1984, like a mouse and a graphical user interface, are still in use today. With Apple, the power of computing was suddenly no longer confined to programmers and techies, but also to classrooms, living rooms, and offices.
Despite all that, the first Macintosh was not able to match the commercial success of IBM’s PC, and Jobs was fired in 1985 over disagreements to do with the vision of Apple. He went on to start NeXT, where he created a $10,000 PC that was packed with innovations, but too pricey for the market. It floundered for a few years and then was finally withdrawn in 1993. Apple wasn’t doing too well without Steve either. Their market share and stock prices were going down. Experimenting with consumer targeted products including digital cameras, portable CD audio players, speakers, video consoles, and TV appliances was not helping.
In 1996, Apple bought NeXT (and subsequently, Jobs) for $400 million, and the founder quickly breathed life back into the company. Mac OS X, the current Apple operating system, and Objective-C, the programming language still used in Mac OS X and in iOS, are both direct descendants of the innovations developed at NeXT. The products he introduced like the iMac in 1998 and the iPod in 2001 led many to call Apple’s early renaissance as the most successful second act in business history. With the more recent introductions of the iPhone and the iPad, the past five years have been even better for Apple. In fact, this August, Apple briefly overtook Exxon as the most valuable company.
Yet, Jobs’s business legacy is about more than just Apple. In 1986, he acquired a small animation studio called Pixar. Pixar became world famous in 1995 with Toy Story, the first completely computer animated full-length motion picture. In 2006, Jobs sold Pixar to the Walt Disney Company for more than $7 billion, after which he became a member of Disney’s Board of Directors and the company’s largest shareholder.
The brilliance of Steve Jobs’s career lies in his ability to completely disrupt commonly accepted notions of doing business. He is famous for brushing off market research, and yet giving consumers exactly what they want. He emphasized on the importance of design, and his vision of creating products that are both functional and elegant has earned him a devoted following. In fact, his product decisions were almost revolutionary. The first iMac had no floppy drives. The MacBook Air has no CD drive. The iPhone had only one button. The Apple mouse had no buttons.
Granted, the success of Apple cannot be tied to the brilliance of one person. Yet, Jobs was involved in even the minute details of Apple’s products. He appears as the principal inventor or as one inventor among several on 313 Apple patents. Some of these patents include the lanyard for some iPod headsets, the plastic clasps that hold cords in place, the cardboard packaging for scores of iPods, and model after model of desktop and laptop computers, monitors, mice, keyboards, mobile devices and media players.
But you know, when you really think about it, Jobs’s most amazing creation isn’t any of the products. It is the brand of Apple. Under Jobs’s leadership, Apple morphed from a struggling niche personal computer maker into a global gadget brand that everyone wants. It’s an almost romantic tale of a single rebellious mind changing a whole industry, creating thousands of jobs, and influencing the mentalities of young people around the world.
You will be missed.
More Hyperlink articles:
It’s Time to Learn How to Surf
It’s Real Time
Start a Blog is NOT a Social Media Strategy
Advertising on the Information Highway
Social is the Word
The iPad Will Change the World
Does the Internet Now Speak Arabic?
Google You: Your Professional Brand Online
Left that Copy
Virtual Goods: A Dollar’s Worth of Pixels
Dial the Web
It’s a Wiki Wiki World
Tis the End of Software as We Know It
Good Web Design is Invisible
How to Use Crowdsourcing to Change Your Business
The Age of Overwhelming Information
The Power of a Like Button
Another Social Google Attempt
A World in the Cloud