Steve Jobs: restrospective and acknowledgements

Today Mr Steven Paul Jobs died at the age of 56. While the circumstances of his death should only be important to his friends and family and not to the journalists relaying the information, there are a lot of things to be said about this incredible man.

There are no words to describe the impact Mr Jobs has had on the modern world from the moment he first started working on a computer in his garage until the moment he showed us his latest product as CEO: iCloud —a simple way to make the general public step in the 21st century and Cloud Computing by allowing them to synchronize their digital media content anywhere.

I don’t believe any man, in the history of mankind has had such an impact on so many levels. Maybe I’m wrong —and that’s not even the point— but Steve has changed industries, created markets, and helped not only imagine but also create a vision of the future that we only thought possible in our wildest dreams.

There are so many things to thank Steve Jobs for.

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Apple was the first company to add a graphical user interface (‘GUI’ if you work in the IT industry.) Apple created the first computer with a ‘mouse’, they pushed the adoption of USB ports (the absolute standard for any transfer between devices), they created tools and products that were not only doing great things. They were great products that lasted and were beautiful.

Steve himself, after having fired from his own company, ended up buying a small hardware division of Lucasart (the Star Wars studio.) At this time the company was creating its own ads by making short animated movies. The company was called Pixar, and in 1995, Toy Story, their first major release, set a new standard for motion graphics and animated movies. Even by today’s standard, Toy Story is still a very impressive movie to watch, more than 15 years later, when it comes to the technology and rendering techniques.

But Steve’s incredible tale didn’t stop there. He launched a new company called NeXT. To sum up, NeXT worked on software development and laid the ground work for what would become Mac OS X. This operating system is in it’s 10th year of existence, with the latest version, Mac OS X Lion, having been released just two months ago.

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In 2001, Jobs introduced a device that would forever change the music industry: the iPod. Just on Tuesday morning, during its keynote presenting the iPhone 4S, Apple announced that the iPod family was responsible for 78% of the MP3 market share in the USA.

Only a mere 4 years or so ago, in January 2007, Apple revolutionized the phone industry, first by re-launching the Smartphone market, and introducing a phone with a touchscreen technology. This powered the urge for third-party developers but also designers and new usability and human-computer interactions specialists.

We all know what the evolution has been today, but love it or hate it, it all started with the iPhone. Even more amazing is the fact that back in 1985, in an interview for Playboy Magazine, he had started to mention the concept of the telephone merging with a computer:

“The developments will be in making the products more and more portable,networking them, […], maybe the merging of the telephone and the personal computer.” —[Source]

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And then last year, once again, Jobs did it and launched a product that defined a market by itself: tablets. There is a lot to be said about the iPad, and a lot has already been said when it was launched. But you can’t argue about the fact that beyond the vision for this compromise between a laptop and a smartphone, the iPad was a device that consumer didn’t need until it was shown and launched.

But here we are, and as the holiday season is getting close, all hardware manufacturer are putting their shiny shoes on to unveil new products and reveal attractive offers, hoping to steal some market shares from the iPad.

There are a lot more things to say about Steve Jobs, his vision for technology and the world, and his drive for innovation and perfection. A couple of months ago, Loic, my CEO at Seesmic, published a post referring to Steve Job as an indicator of perfection. To me, and I believe to a lot of people, the question that we will need to ask ourselves anytime we will be on the verge of an important milestone, will be: ‘Would Steve Jobs allow it? What would Steve Jobs do?

Once again, Jobs was able to not only imagine the future, he was able to create and develop this vision, and every time share it with us once the idea had matured enough. No Apple product is released if it’s not perfectly tested. And in a world of perfection in design and usability, Steve Jobs is the seal of excellence.

Steve was an inventor and innovator, and most of the technology found today in our devices is available thanks to him. It started with the Graphical User Interface, then the introduction of the ‘mouse’ as a device to deal with the GUI in an intuitive way. And coming back to today, Steve’s vision is the reason why we have access to devices that used to be dreamt of and pictured in the wildest sci-fi movies, not so long ago.

The future that we pictured is today’s reality, mostly thanks to Steve.

But Steve was also an inspiring individual. And he tried to encourage us to innovate and never rest. He tried to get individuals to follow their hearts and look for their passions. Here are his two most famous quotes demonstrating this state of mind:

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Steve Jobs’ legacy is as incredible as President Obama put it in a public announcement:

There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

We —as the human race— have lost a very important man today. He singlehandedly changed industries, created markets, and left his vision for the world to share.

Rest In Peace, Steven Paul Jobs. You’ve changed the world and for that we thank you. You will never be forgotten.

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