It’s hard to overestimate the effect that former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, whose death was announced Oct. 5, had on the technology industry as a whole. His company’s innovations in tablets and smartphones kicked off the current rush toward mobility that will almost certainly define the space for years to come.
Apple’s Website now opens with a black-and-white photo of Jobs. An accompanying statement read: “Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being.” The cause of death was not announced, although Jobs had fought a rare form of pancreatic cancer and received a liver transplant a few years ago.
Jobs co-founded Apple, only to leave following a bitter internal dispute in the 1980s. By mid-1997, however, he had returned to seize Apple’s reins and from there launched a string of innovative products, starting with the iMac and iPod, that revived the company’s then-flagging fortunes.
Over the past decade, a string of subsequent hits-including the iPhone, MacBook Air and an ever-more-improved series of iPods-helped elevate the company to one of the most valuable in the world, and assured Jobs’ legend.
Although Apple products were primarily geared toward consumers, enthusiasm for the iPhone, iPad and Macs-coupled with businesses’ increased willingness to accept employees’ personal devices into their IT ecosystem-led to the company’s increasingly significant presence in both the enterprise and small and midsize businesses (SMBs). During a July earnings call, Apple executives claimed some 86 percent of the Fortune 500 had either tested or deployed the tablet.
In conjunction with designer Jonathan Ive, Jobs pioneered a sleek design aesthetic for Apple products, its later iterations emphasizing glass and brushed aluminum. This “look” attracted imitators, but it was Apple’s melding of hardware and software-including Mac OS X and the mobile operating system iOS-that truly set the company apart from those rivals. In recent quarters, the Mac OS X operating system, geared for the company’s Mac line, had begun adopting elements originally created for the mobile iOS, again highlighting the company’s fast drift toward a mobility-centric mentality.
Apple’s iPhone supercharged the smartphone industry. Other companies rushed to adopt the iPhone’s touch screen, helping launch a series of fierce intellectual-property battles between Apple and its rivals that continue to this day. On Oct. 4, a little more than 24 hours before the announcement of Jobs’ passing, Apple unveiled its latest device in the line, the iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 4S will retail for $199 for the 16GB version, and will include Apple’s higher-end A5 processor and an 8-megapixel camera. The company will sell the iPhone 4 for $99, low enough to make it a player against lower-cost Android devices.
Jobs’ impact on the tech sphere will be analyzed for years to come. What’s indisputable is that he changed it his way.