Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced his resignation as CEO of Apple. With the incredible number of blog posts and articles that are being written about Jobs at the moment, I thought I would quickly reflect on one simple question: What did Steve Jobs actually do?
First, a confession: I honestly don’t know a whole lot about Steve Jobs. In fact, I was never really a big fan of Apple. I hated their computers in our school computer labs and, until just a few years ago, couldn’t understand why people would pay so much for an iMac or even an iPod. All of that has changed, of course. The iPhone is the single greatest gadget purchase I have ever made, and the MacBook Air is the most perfect laptop I have ever used. Yes, I’m a huge fan now. I still don’t know very much about Jobs, but I do know one thing: he has dramatically changed the world we live in – multiple times over.
The Apple II was the first commercially successful personal computer. The Apple Macintosh was the first computer to introduce the graphical user interface and the mouse to the masses. Most people – even those who work in the computer industry – probably don’t realize how much Apple did to kickstart and shape the personal computer revolution.
Computer animated films
Pixar’s Toy Story was the first full-length CGI animated film and made a major impact on the movie industry. Who doesn’t love a Pixar movie? Jobs, of course, was CEO and transformed Pixar from a hardware company into a movie studio.
Portable music players
The iPod was obviously not the first portable MP3 player, but it was clearly the most impactful. What I find most striking his how it changed the buying habits of the mass consumer market: despite all of the cheaper alternatives, the vast majority of people opted for the well-designed product with the highest-quality sound and headphones.
Digital music distribution
iTunes revolutionized the music industry with its first sustainable business model and distribution model designed for the Internet era.
The modern smartphone
Whether you love it or hate it, the iPhone single-handedly transformed the smartphone and the industry around it.
The app store
A revolution in business models and digital distribution – yet again!
Another, and likely final, example of a pre-existing concept that only Steve Jobs was able to deliver in a way that transforms how we consume content and utilize technology.
Those are an amazing number of accomplishments for one lifetime. It may be cliche to be enamored with Steve Jobs, but it would be irresponsible to not be inspired by him.