Oct 052011

Apple today announced the death of Steve Jobs who succumbed to complications from the pancreatic cancer that he was fighting since 2004.  In a brief statement, Apple released the following:

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

I own no Apple hardware. The only Apple software that I run is iTunes because it’s an excellent podcatcher. I am not an Apple fanboy by any stretch of the imagination.

But only a fool would deny the tremendous impact that Steve Jobs left on the industry.

To call Steve Jobs a visionary is an understatement.  From the Apple Macintosh, which provided the inspiration for Microsoft Windows, to Pixar, which became (and still is) the pinnacle of CGI-animated entertainment, to the incredible iPod, iPhone, and iPad series that revolutionized the way that we communicate and consume media, Apple changed so many facets of our lives, even for those who never bought or used Apple products.  The competition that was spawned if only to try to compete with Apple has completely revolutionized the consumer electronics market.

As an example, just today I received the HP TouchPad that I got when HP was offering them through their fire sale back in August. The TouchPad would not be in my possession were it not for Steve Jobs’ vision. After the industry made a dismal attempt at tablet computing several years ago, he brought it back with a vengeance thanks to phenomenal success of the iPad. The success spawned numerous competitors, including HP; but the inability to catch up with the iPad forced HP to dump the TouchPad in a $99 fire sale.  So, Apple’s vision and success with the iPad is why I have a tablet, even though it’s not an Apple iPad.  That example shows just how much of an impact Apple has had on the personal electronics industry, whether you’ve bought Apple hardware or not.

Everyone who runs a Windows computer can thank Steve for bringing the idea of the graphical user interface from Xerox to the masses, which was then copied (stolen?) by Microsoft.  Even Windows 7 shows a lot of functionality that is very close to OS X.

Everyone who loves movies from Pixar has to thank Steve for changing that once-struggling company into one of the most respected animation studios in history.  Buzz and Woody would not be bringing so much enjoyment to young and old alike without Steve Jobs.

Even those of us who prefer Android can thank Steve for keeping the competition alive in the smartphone industry, which kept pushing Google to keep improving Android.

And no one can deny Steve Jobs’ charisma and presence. Those of us who had no interest in Apple’s products still would watch the various product announcements. We wanted to see what Apple would reveal that would change the world of consumer electronics once again, and we wanted to see Steve present it in a way that would make everyone want one, whether they really needed it or not.

The world seems a bit emptier now without Steve Jobs, knowing that there will no longer be “one more thing”.  Tomorrow, I will wear a black shirt and jeans in remembrance.

Requiescat in pace, Steve.  And thank you for everything.