Outside of politicians there are few individuals that have truly changed the way we live. It’s more than coincidental that Steve Jobs named his company after the record company of The Beatles, the group of four individuals who changed the musical tastes of our generation.
Steve Jobs’ life was obviously too short, but in that short life he crammed four public lives. He was one of the first in Silicon Valley who saw a personal future for the technology being invented there; that culminated with the Apple II. His next life introduced the GUI; after a false start with Lisa, the Mac was a fully realized system that made Apple the de facto publishing machine. It also transformed Apple (AAPL) into a corporation, a challenge for which Jobs was not yet prepared. His third life was NeXT, which provided the springboard for his final life #4, returning to Apple.
It would be an accomplishment on its own to say that Jobs returned Apple to its former glory. That’s an understatement. Under his (final) watch, Apple evolved from computer company, changing the way we consume music and media; significantly it was Jobs that finally got the record companies to agree on a common pricing model. Then he redefined the mobile experience with the iPhone, and introduced a new form of computing with the iPad.
In so doing, Apple has changed our lives and changed industries. Although music downloads were going to happen regardless of the iPod, it not only made CDs obsolete, but also record stores, and arguably, albums. It also made it more accessible for garage bands everywhere to distribute and bypass the record company, a situation from which the record companies have yet to recover. It is also changing the nature of the phone business, and realigning major handset providers.
But most of all we’ll miss Steve Jobs’ sense of style. The minimalism that was Apple provided a sense of elegance and peace that is all too often missing from our cluttered lives. For that alone, thank you Steve Jobs.
Disclaimer: Author is an analyst with Ovum; the opinion stated does not necessarily reflect that of Ovum.