I, like so many others, learned of Steve Jobs’ passing while casually perusing email on my iPad. I had been expecting it ever since he resigned his CEO post in August, but the news still felt shocking.
Immediately it was clear that most everyone else shared that feeling. Facebook and Twitter lit up on the news of the Apple founder’s death as it does for few others. In a world where the news is mostly dominated by bankrupt economies, joblessness, and financial misconduct, Steve Jobs’ life story felt truly American – full of hope, innovation and success. He was adopted, a college drop-out who was practically homeless for a while, and in 1985 he was kicked out of the company he founded eight years prior after making a few costly bad bets. But he didn’t let any of those defeats touch him, returning in the mid-nineties to revitalize Apple and introduce products that revolutionized technology, communications and media as we know it.
Jobs represented the modern American dream, and he stood against a bleak background of what the world looks like when those dreams don’t seem attainable.
Jobs was always cagey about his personal life, choosing to reveal little, even though it became clear in his later years that something was not right. He had to take multiple medical leaves, and when he did appear in public, he was gaunt. But as he always did, he appeared to fight with everything he had until the end, only finally retiring a month before his passing.
It may seem materialistic or shallow to say that Jobs and Apple – with devices such as the iPad, the iPhone, the iMac, and so on – changed the world. But of course, they did, they have and they will. Because of Apple, media and communications have changed inexorably – they are easier, more accessible and constantly mobile. Entire industries have been created in the wake of Apple’s leadership.
As B&C’s George Winslow and Melissa Grego pointed out in their news write-up last night, Apple’s innovations have had far reaching-implications – not just revolutionizing personal computing and desktop publishing, but forever altering the way people create, distribute and consume media. Television stations use iPhones and iPads to gather the news, and iMacs and Final Cut Pro to produce it. Viewers watch shows on iPads, and networks and cable operators are developing new apps every day to deliver content to consumers. And almost every TV show ever produced is available on iTunes, which was the first digital store to make that happen in a significant way, changing the paradigm of TV distribution forever, and opening the way for new competitors such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Jobs has passed, but his legacy will remain, continue and evolve.