Steve Jobs’s resignation as chief executive officer of Apple is the end of an extraordinary era, not just for Apple, but for the global technology industry in general. He is a historic business figure whose impact was deeply felt far beyond the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.
And now, for the first time since 1997, he won’t be the company’s chief executive.
To be very clear, Steve, while seriously ill, is very much alive. Extremely well-informed sources at Apple say he intends to remain involved in developing major future products, strategy and intends to be an active chairman of the board, even while the new CEO Tim Cook runs the company on a day-to-day basis.
CEOs resign every day, so why is this departure so meaningful?
Most people are lucky if they can change the world in one way, but Steve, has done it in multiple stages of his business career. He has changed global technology, media and lifestyles in multiple ways on multiple occasions. He did it because he was willing to take big risks on new ideas. He also insisted on high quality and had the guts to leave out features others found essential. He has the spirit to kill technologies, like the floppy drive and the removable battery, which he felt were no longer needed. And he has been a brilliant marketer, personally passionate about his products.
In his first act at Apple, the company he co-founded in 1976, he helped envision and kick-started the personal computer revolution. The Apple II computer he developed with Steve Wozniak wasn’t the only mass-market PC released in 1977, but it was the one that had the most enduring impact.
In 1984, he did it again by leading the development of the Macintosh, the first commercially successful computer to use a mouse and a graphical user interface. It cemented the template for how every computer works today.
After being forced out of Apple in 1985, it’s well known that Steve ran an unsuccessful computer firm called NeXT. At NeXT he took a couple of game-changing steps like the developing an operating system that would later morph into the excellent Macintosh operating system, called OS X, and also the operating system that drives Apple’s mobile devices, called iOS.
In addition, he purchased Pixar, a small computer animation firm which he was able, to turn into one of the world’s most successful movie studios. It changed animation forever.
In his most recent act, he returned in 1997 to take over as CEO of Apple as part of that company’s purchase of NeXT. What he found was a diminished company which was only months from bankruptcy due to its mediocre products.
Fourteen years later, the company is now the most financially valuable and influential technology company in the world. Apple’s every product is eagerly anticipated, snapped up quickly by consumers, and aped by competitors, even though they are often priced higher than rival devices.
While CEO of the revived Apple, he introduced the dominant digital music player, the iPod, and created the most successful digital media service, iTunes. He introduced the first super-smartphone, the iPhone, and the only truly successful tablet computer, the iPad, which is in the process of replacing the laptop. And he built the world’s largest app store.
Apple’s devices and software services have dramatically changed the mobile phone industry, the music industry, the film and TV industries, the publishing industry and others.
Now, rumors are rife that Apple is working on re-inventing another common device: the TV. The secretive company won’t say a word about that, but nobody should be surprised if it happens, just based on Steve’s track record.
I guess its one of the reasons why Steve in his resignation to the board stated “I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it, and I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.”
Simply put, this is why the day Steve Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple isn’t like the day a typical CEO resigns.
Thanks for everything Steve, the world’s a better place because of you.