December 20, 2014

A Tribute to a True Industry Visionary: Steve Jobs

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At Carousel, as everywhere around the country, there has been a lot of talk about Steve Jobs over the last week.  The outpouring of emotion over his passing has been nothing short of astounding, not unlike Jobs’ career.

The word “visionary” may be tossed around too much in tech circles, but there’s little question it applies to Jobs insteve-jobs spades. Probably few households in the U.S., and in many other countries, don’t have at last one Apple product and many have lots of them, reflecting the profound effect that Jobs and Apple have had on so many aspects of our work and personal lives.

As the satirist Stephen Colbert put it in his farewell tribute to Jobs on his “Colbert Report” show:

“He was a visionary who changed the way we use computers, listen to music, communicate, and stay awake in meetings.”

(Do yourself a favor and take a couple of minutes to click on that link and check out the video of Colbert; truly funny – and touching – stuff.)

Hiawatha Bray, the technology reporter for The Boston Globe, likewise hit the nail on the head with respect to Jobs:

Mr. Jobs revitalized Apple by transforming smartphones, computers, and media players into objects of desire. He insisted the company put the human experience first, focusing on design as well as technological prowess. Fifteen years ago, Apple flirted with bankruptcy; today, it is one of the most successful companies on earth.

Mr. Jobs’s rival, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, issued a statement saying, “The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had.”

Lest we forget, Jobs also made a big contribution to the movie industry by founding in 1986 what became Pixar Animation Studios.  As Bray reported:

With Mr. Jobs as its CEO, Pixar released Toy Story, the first full-length movie generated entirely by computers, in 1995. The funny, heart-tugging tale made a deep emotional connection with viewers — and $361 million in worldwide ticket sales.

Now for the first time, Mr. Jobs, marrying technical excellence with emotional appeal, created a product that was loved by millions around the world. That was the formula that defined Mr. Jobs and his companies for the rest of his life.

And while Apple computers have seen limited use in enterprise networks, at least outside the computer graphics department, one can make the case that Jobs nonetheless had a profound effect on enterprise IT, as Lisa Schmeiser does in this InfoWorld piece:

Two Apple innovations pried open the door to the enterprise: the iPod (released in 2001) and iTunes (launched in 2003). The first trained consumers to expect intuitive and accessible mobile technology in their everyday lives, while the second laid the foundation for cloud computing…For most of us, everyday life includes day jobs, so when iPhone-, iPod-, iTunes-savvy people walked into the workplace, they neither knew nor cared that they were moving from one demographic (consumers) into another (enterprise users). These people, who consumed hardware and software products on their own time, wanted the same positive, powerful experiences on the job — thus, paving the way for the consumerization of IT.

We’ll close with this quote from an old Apple commercial, which most certainly applies to Steve Jobs: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

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