The news of Steve Jobs’ resignation from Apple’s CEO spot late yesterday was a possibility we’ve seen coming for years, given Jobs’ apparent ongoing health issues. Still, it was a bit of a shock because Apple and Jobs are both at the zenith of their success. I found myself reflecting last night on all of the ways Jobs influenced the world around us, and a host of quick-reaction stories posted at the Wall Street Journal were a helpful guide.
Of course, Walt Mossberg wrote an admiring overview of Jobs’ accomplishments that will take you down memory lane, from the Apple II through the iPad. Although Jobs’ career can be summed up largely with reference to three different companies—Apple, NeXT, and Pixar—his influence has been ridiculously far-reaching, as Mossberg reminds us: "Jobs has dramatically changed the mobile phone industry, the music industry, the film and TV industries, the publishing industry and others." Maybe, say, the computer industry, too?
Jobs has a reputation as essentially a hyper-powered product manager who has meticulously pushed his employees to produce simple, elegant, and well-conceived products. One unavoidable question in the wake of his departure from the CEO position is what happens next at Apple. Or, to put it more bleakly: how long until the company begins to stumble and lose some of the magic that has led to its success? (Will we, say in four or five years, suddenly have six variants of the iPad in different sizes, half of them with TN display panels?) The Journal has a brief story about Apple’s remaining management team, including new CEO Tim Cook and design guru Jony Ive, and the challenges they face. Many folks sound confident, usually projecting that by saying nice things about the talents of individuals still at Apple. However, at least one stock analyst firm disagrees.
Finally, even if you haven’t always been a fan of Jobs and Apple, you may still enjoy his take on life. Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford was an instant classic, telling the stories of his college dropout experience and of his early failure at Apple from his own perspective. One of my favorite bits is about him sitting in on a calligraphy class for no apparent reason:
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.
Even more fun is this collection of top quotations from Jobs on a range of subjects.