The death of any individual is a tragedy. The fact that the internet is so abuzz with news of the passing of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, is an indication of his impact. While his efforts were focused mainly on the consumer side of computing, his presence can still be felt throughout the industry as a whole. More than just an innovator, entrepreneur, or savvy technocrat, Jobs was an icon, a personality who endured long after the personal computer became a commonplace household and workplace object.
Apple’s history and its place in the market have been part of a complicated saga. Long playing underdog in the personal computer and business computing markets, a sudden about-face in the early 21st Century brought the company to the forefront of consumer electronics with the release of the iPod. More than simply adapting to a changing industry, Jobs had the foresight and the force of will to drive that change himself. He contributed to the popularization of computers and electronics in such a way that they became not just appliances or tools to accomplish tasks but an essential component of peoples’ lifestyles. The computer as a fashion accessory is still a concept weird enough to evoke strong reactions from devotees and detractors alike.
Much of the discussion around Jobs centered around his autocratic leadership style, but innovation has rarely come from committees. Often a singular vision is required to make long strides, good or bad. Unilateral action can understandably foster resentment. The legacy of Steve Jobs is more than the products he helped develop, more than the controversies surrounding his methods. His legacy is one of adaptability and perseverance. And whether you’ve stood in line for hours to buy the latest iPhone or have never owned a single Apple product, his work has influenced all those of us connected to the electronics industry.