I have never purchased an Apple product, not for any reason other than I liked Microsoft computers, and by the time I wanted a MP3 player, smartphones had evolved with that capacity. My parents bought my brother an Apple II back in the day, and he continues to use Apple products with great regard, so perhaps I need to reexamine my next computer purchase?
For me I see Steve Jobs and Apple in two distinct timelines. Before Apple and to some extent Steve Jobs, held this esteem of a cool, hip, groundbreaking, culturally changing company, they both had demons to exercise. Lets recall, Apple was in such a bad shape, it had to accept funding from the “evil empire”, Microsoft. In 1985 Steve was forced from the company he founded, with many analysts writing him off, yet Apple did prosper without him, growing from $850 million to over $8 Billion in revenue.
When Steve’s company NeXT was acquired by Apple in 1996, this provided Steve a way back into Apple to work on his vision, with new respect from his Pixar dealings. The first and in my opinion the most pivotal product release for Apple, and Steve was the iPod and subsequent iTunes music store, which was really the first “Application” store created. The iPod introduced the general public\consumers to technology that was cool and easy to use. Steve designed the iPod to be “human-focused” while many MP3 players before were “technology-focused”, and soon white headphones were appearing everywhere.
Of course the next release was the one that changed our world….the iPhone. I recall seeing this in 2007, and thought immediately that this just changed everything. In fact, I told representatives from RIM in the early 2008, if RIM did not have embrace this new touchscreen technology completely, they would be marginalized. When the RIM guys in the room laughed and told me the phone was cool, but would never be accepted by business, I knew then and there RIM would be replaced in the enterprise in 5 years.
So while I am not an Apple customer, clearly the impact of Steve Jobs has and hopefully will continue to impact technology, observed by the copy-cat products that have since emerged form the iPhone launch. Apple, under Steve Jobs perceptionally invented the Smartphone market, and created an entire genre of Mobile Devices that have fundamentally transformed how we do business, how we live, and how we relate to each other.
Steve Jobs did something very magical. His executed vision was far more than cool technology, it actually created a new cultural paradigm, and in my opinion, without Steve Jobs and Apple, all the benefits of Social Business, Social Enterprise, Social Networking would just relegated to be just another web site.
So thank you Steve for being brave, for being daring, and for being honest with yourself and most importantly with all of us.