Apple will find it hard to replace Steeve ‘Cool’ Jobs (Comment)August 26th, 2011 - 1:19 pm ICT by IANS
Think of this as an unusual obituary! For a man who’s not only alive, but has also been just elected chairman of the world’s most valuable technology company — one that had once even forced him out.
Reading the outpouring Thursday — “Internet mourns Steve Jobs’ resignation”, said a CNN headline — one had to keep checking if Jobs had passed away into the afterlife, or just resigned as Apple’s chief executive.
Jobs is, indeed, the 21st century’s top tech icon, the man who came back to the company that fired him, and drove it from bit player to the coolest brand in the world, in the most spectacular turnaround in corporate history.
He is also among the best showmen around. Ask the crowds at Macworld, waiting for Jobs to pull rabbits out of pockets and envelopes: iPods, ultra-slim laptops, you never know what next.
Behind him, a giant slide speaks five words you don’t forget. I still remember “1,000 songs in your pocket”, from the iPod launch in 2001. We were at the edge of our seats: My notebook fell and cracked its screen when Jobs pulled the iPod out, but it was a small price for a preview of the future of music.
Jobs started Apple with a high school friend in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976. Forced out of his own company a decade later, he returned as its savior after another decade, in 1996. In May 2010, Apple overtook Microsoft as the most valuable technology company in the world, with a market value of over $222 billion.
Apple turns out sleek, sexy products one after the other. Gadgets that transform how you live and work. Its products are category-defining. The iPad re-created the stagnant tablet, selling 15 million units in a year, and leaving PC giants to struggle to catch up. Or, as with HP this month, to finally give up and dump unsold tablets at $99. The iPod overwhelmed the MP3 player category, becoming its generic name, much like Xerox.
It isn’t just the sleek, elegant simplicity of the products, but oh, the marketing. The company is a recent, late entrant into cloud services, yet when I asked a gathering of Delhi’s brightest science school kids “What’s a cloud?” the most audible response was: it’s a kind of service from Apple.
Even with Apple’s 50,000 employees, including some really smart designers and developers, the man credited with the vision, design, execution and marketing behind those sensational products is Steve Jobs. He’s the guy who shook up the digital music industry with iTunes and the iPod in 2001, drove the smartphone craze with the iPhone seven years later, and reinvented tablets in 2010.
Yes, the charismatic tech guru is also famously erratic and a temperamental manager with zero tolerance for imperfection, and an over-driving, impatient taskmaster. He’s been on Fortune’s list of America’s toughest bosses, as “one of Silicon Valley’s leading egomaniacs.”
But despite his failing health, Jobs is still around for now, as chairman of the Apple board. Freed of chief executive’s responsibilities, Apple investors and fans hope he will still drive product direction and design some way, at least a generation or two beyond the iPhone 5 and iPad 3.
For Jobs has done most things right.
Phone companies that once wanted to be Nokia now want to be Apple, Nokia and Google included. And when Google’s Larry Page, after a recent big acquisition, was being described by many as the next Bill Gates, a veteran columnist said Page didn’t care about being Gates: He wanted to be Steve Jobs.
(26.8.2011-Prasanto K. Roy is chief editor at CyberMedia. He can be reached at PKR@CyberMedia.co.in and at twitter.com/prasanto)
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