Updated April 13th, 2020.
This is Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone at MacWorld Expo in January 2007.
This is Steve Jobs introducing the iPad three years later.
I don’t know of another big-time CEO who so obviously loves his products. Look at his face. He can hardly contain himself. I can’t decide which picture I like more. So here they are, both of them.
As you surely know, Steve Jobs resigned his position as CEO of Apple today via this letter to the Apple Board of Directors “and the Apple Community” (which I thought a nice touch). I’ve received numerous comments via email, text, phone, and in person, all saying “It’s a sad day.” And I agree. But, as I’ve written before, it’s hardly the end of Apple. It’s also hardly the end of Steve Jobs’ involvement at Apple– he’s still on the Board of Directors, and now he’s Chairman of the Board, and he’s still an Apple employee. Yes, it’s a step back, but no, he’s not leaving Apple. Not just yet.
(Apple’s going to be fine. Tim Cook, whom Steve Jobs personally picked to be CEO, is going to take the job. Cook isn’t Steve Jobs, but he’s been Chief Operating Officer at Apple since 1998, and he wouldn’t have lasted that long if he didn’t understand what’s important to the company and what makes Apple special. I’ve read that Apple has codified “the Apple way,” going so far as to create a series of courses that formally explain and teach the company’s core beliefs. Those beliefs may have started in Steve Jobs’ mind, but they aren’t going to end there. Obviously, Steve Jobs is not replaceable in the sense that we’re all different, and Jobs is more different than most. But the company is in good hands with Tim Cook.)
So what’s so sad about today’s news? Plenty: An unmatched leader is unable to continue doing the work he loves. That’s sad. The public has probably seen its last Steve Jobs keynote speech/product introduction. That’s sad too. Reading between the lines it’s easy to assume that Jobs’ health is deteriorating, and of course on a human level that’s even sadder still.
Steve Jobs tried to change the world– and he did it. He had a vision of how ordinary people could use computers and technology to make their lives better, and now, after all these years, the world understand what Jobs meant. The Mac, the iPod, the iTunes Music Store, the iPhone, the iPad– all game-changers, instantly copied, with the ideas being so good that even the copies were better than what was there before.
Steve Jobs changed computers, music, phones, and with the iPad, “everything.” He changed the world, and now it appears he might not be around to enjoy it very long. That, to me, is saddest of all.
UPDATE: According to Ars Technica, Tim Cook sent a letter this morning to all Apple employees, saying “I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change.” Read the full text of Tim Cook’s letter at Ars Technica.