Remembering Steve Jobs
October 13th 2011 · 0 Comments
By MARK ZIOBRO
Two events happened on Wednesday, October 5th. Apple, Inc. unveiled its new smartphone, the iPhone 4s, and Steve Jobs, founder, creator, and former CEO of the company, passed away.
In the world we live in, which is driven by and thrives on social media, it came as no surprise that this is the way I gathered the details of his passing. Facebook posts and tweets such as #remember steve dominated the Internet. Message posts discussed the impact of Jobs on our social world. Apple.com even set their home page to show a young photo of Steve Jobs when visitors first arrive.
There is no doubt that Steve Jobs had a profound impact on Apple and the rest of the world. Especially the social media world, which has been propelled even farther than the wildest imaginations of innovators such as Mark Zuckerberg and Tom Anderson (who created MySpace, and in many ways paved the audience pool and market for Facebook), in large part due to the advent of smartphones. Thousands of people have switched to these devices, keeping in contact with friends, family, and business connections.
And make no mistake about it…Apple’s iPhone was the first smartphone.While Blackberry’s predated it, it was the first phone that popularized the concept and allowed it to gain in mass appeal.
It would perhaps be easy to write a column about the company’s accomplishments at the hands of Jobs: iMac and Macbook personal computers, the iPhone, the Apple App Store, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Lion, not to exclude Apple’s avant-garde iPod, which forever changed the way we listen to music. It is, I feel, much more difficult to write a column about the man, and his lasting impressions upon American society.
Needless to say, there has been a lot of discussion on both sides of the coin on social media. Dozens of my Facebook friends have posted eulogies and remembrances to the man, a man they didn’t personally know. What they understood was that like Jobs or not, he changed things, allowing people to communicate in new and innovative ways. What they understood was that they took advantage of and used a technology on a daily basis that was made possible because of people like Steve Jobs.
And there were other implications as well. Twitter users in the Arab world also showed gratitude for the man and his technology, which allowed them to pass the message of their revolt along during the Arab Spring protests that continue to break up Autocracies through the Middle Eastern world. Wrote one Twitter user: “Apple products helped the Libyan revolution tweet, spread info, and captured video and images. Apple technology was vital.” (Though estranged, Jobs’ father was Syrian Muslim immigrant to the United States from Homs, Syria).*
Of course, there were also the detractors, with negative words about Jobs’ legacy, sometimes acrimonious or sometimes sarcastic. There were comments deriding Apple’s call to supporters to e-mail email@example.com with tributes, while others called these encomiums to the man disgusting. There was even one clever slander condemning Jobs, signed, jeeringly, sent from my Droid, not iPhone.
While events like this are bound to happen with the passing of any corporate head, my respect for the man, like, I’m sure, many others’, was tied into the notion that I use and relied upon technology I couldn’t create myself. Whether an iPhone, a Droid, or a Blackberry, they are one in the same; and while the Droid may be many things, it is, like the other phones that followed suit, an answer to the iPhone, not a unique and stand-alone product.
I thought it was fitting that Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO for the past few months, happened to unveil its new product, which is markedly improved for both business and personal use, on the day of Jobs’ death. Change is inevitable. Jobs himself understood this.
During his commencement speech to Stanford University in 2005, Jobs cited the importance of innovation in life:
“No one wants to die. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.”
Jobs wasn’t naïve enough to think himself irreplaceable. Apple’s new product under a new CEO proves this much. But he was real enough to make an impact on the world. And we’re not talking about the natural world, but the social world. A growing world. And a world whose influence and market were made possible by innovators such as Jobs.
This fact can’t be changed. And it’s true- whether or not you use an iPhone or a Droid.
By Mark Ziobro