I won’t write an obituary for Steve Jobs. First of all, I didn’t know the man, never met him and never talked to him. Writing about him as a person would be pointless; letting his family, friends, colleagues and those that were closest to him talk about his character and life is a more appropriate tribute.
But as I type this on my MacBook, I see his influence every single day in my life. And it’s not only in the technology world. His reach extended to everyday life, the ideals of business and changing perceptions. For that, he will be greatly missed.
Making “Geeks” Cool: Back when I was in elementary school, students with pocket protecters and glasses were considered “nerds and geeks.” They were made fun of, picked on, harassed and for the most part, were a pariah in the social scales of schools across the country. The chasm between the nerds and jocks was like the class structure between the rich and poor in society as neither side really saw the point of view of the other. But nowadays, if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet computer, you are considered the “nerd” in society. What Apple and Steve Jobs did with its products is make it cool to be tech-savvy. Those calculators have been replaced with iPhones. In a lot of senses, texting and chatting online have replaced actual face-to-face communication and phone conversations. Apple helped to break the divide in school, change perceptions and helped to show that yes, technology is pretty cool.
A Different Way of Doing Business: Over the last few years, whenever Apple planned to make an announcement, the buzz was mind-blowing. It was almost too much. Rumors would fill the Internet instantaneously with what was next for Steve Jobs and what new product Apple would come up with. Creating that buzz and maintaining it after a product announcement has helped to make Apple one of if not the most successful company in the United States. People said it was his arrogance and ego, but Jobs’ presence was an overwhelming draw for the public and the news media just ate it up. I don’t know if I can remember a CEO with as much magnetism; he was like Richard Pryor in his prime doing stand-up, Jimi Hendrix performing at Woodstock, a great orator with the pulpit serving as his stage. Every movement, every word, every appearance was judged by the rest of the world and he had his audience hanging with each and every syllable. I don’t want to discredit Steve Wozniak, the rest of the Apple leaders and all the workers behind the scenes who have made it such a powerful company. Jobs’ job was made a bit easier because many times, the technology and product spoke for themselves. But it needs a face, a voice and someone out front to convince the buying public that yes, they should buy this product and that was what Steve Jobs was great at doing.
Music World Turned Upside-Down: Back when I was a kid, I would listen to my Sony Walkman, playing cassettes or listening to my favorite FM radio station. Now, everyone is listening to their iPod, downloaded music or Pandora. iTunes gave music fans another option when it comes to purchasing music. It is a lot easier to just click a button to buy one of your favorite songs than buy a whole CD at a record store. iTunes started to extend to movies, TV shows, podcasts and has become a multimedia juggernaut. There are now plenty of competitors in the market, but it is very hard to complete with the machine that is Apple.
A Change to Everyday Life: Everyday I commute on BART, I whip out my MacBook or grab my iPod, crank up the tunes in my iTunes library and work on whatever project is next up on my list. But I’m also surrounded by commuters texting on their iPhones or reading and working on their iPad. Step back and think about it for a second. How lost would you feel without your iPhone? What would you do on your mass transit commute if you didn’t have your iPad, iPod or laptop? Would you be back buying CD’s rather than downloading music on iTunes? Apple is not the only company with stakes in all these aspects of everyday technology, but it is the giant in the room. Just imagine being without all these wonderful pieces of technology, Apple or not, and think how different your life would be without them.
The influence of Steve Jobs and Apple can be seen worldwide in every aspect of each of our lives. The company will continue to succeed with new CEO Tim Cook at the helm. There are too many really smart people working for the company that new innovations and products will make their way on to store shelves and into the hands of consumers. But the loss of Steve Jobs will still be remembered for a long, long time.
All photos taken at Apple Store, Union Square