Yesterday Apple announced to the world the very sad news that Steve Jobs has passed away. Steve has had a profound impact on the lives of almost everyone on the planet, from desktop computer users, to movie watchers to mobile phone users. He really is one of the great American heroes.
What made Steve so exceptional? From his early days he was able to create a vision around how normal people should be using the devices he wanted to build. He saw how the personal computer would be used by everyone, and created the Apple II computer. He then saw how to make the computer so much easier to use and created the Lisa and the Macintosh. Each time, he’s looking how to make the device easy for normal people to use.
That concept is still alive at Apple, and is part of the DNA of their current class leading products from the Mac to the iPhone and iPad. Simplicity is very complex, and the tribute to Steve’s vision is that no other company has been anywhere near as successful as his in making that simplicity work.
Today, his products have created revolutions. He moved us from typing commands at a keyboard to using a mouse. He moved us from feature phones and blackberries to touchscreen smartphones. Android phones were going to be copies of blackberries until the iPhone came along. That is a measure of how Steve Jobs changed an industry. The iPad has created a whole new segment, and has enriched our lives immensely. It has allowed me to write this while commuting to work.
Not only was Steve Job’s product vision, his understanding of the importance of quality and his market timing extraordinary, but his personal perseverance was too. Steve failed at leading Apple in the early 1980s, but that didn’t stop him. He got better at leading, built two new companies, and when he came back to Apple a decade later, he was able to be the CEO Apple needed.
How can you measure his ability? Look at Apple today. It is so well run that it can build products no one else can match. That is not one person, it is the whole Apple team. Job’s success has been to weave the right DNA throughout the company. This success means that Apple has the strength to continue making exceptional products and will be a true tribute to Steve Jobs. Which other CEO has taken an effectively dead company and turned it into the most valuable in the world? A testament to the combination of all the things that made Steve Jobs an exceptional person.
My thoughts go out to Steve’s family, his friends and everyone who worked with him at Apple.
Steve Jobs, 1955-2011, an extraordinary product visionary, amazingly persistent and a highly successful CEO.