The passing of Apple visionary Steve Jobs in 2011 is still reverberating throughout the fields of popular electronics, mobile communications, and the media culture experienced by the mass consumer. The innovations and "humanization" of technology introduced by Mr. Jobs changed the way people use computers, hand-held devices, and served to alter their conception as to what was is an essential appliance. From making smart phones something that the average person could relate to, to making the tried concept of the software application something homey by calling them "apps," his contributions have impacted the daily lives of millions.
Impact on computers
The most immediate impact of Jobs was in computing, and derives from his contributions in converting the notion of personal productivity (using a home computer) from a distant abstract concept, to a practical reality. Apple and IBM with the market makers in the early 80s in this conversion process, and while the open architecture philosophy of IBM emotive versatility, Jobs'competing vision sought to show the public how his Apple and Macintosh computers could be embraced by individuals in a custom fashion. Like the company's iconic symbol, an apple with a bite taken out of it, Jobs believed in producing objects are that humans are actually getting something out of.
Jobs also showed people how a complete PC system, particularly with the Mac, could serve human needs, and have a complete look and feel, compared to consumers buying a partial computer set up on the IBM side. In CBS's memorial story on Jobs, Ryan Gaines, an avid Apple product user pointed out that the products "look sleek, they look like the future...he's made everything much more simple." Others are profiled using iPods to teach the children, jogging while listening to iTunes, or working anywhere it was a Wi-Fi signal on their iMac - sometimes all in the same day. Such is the effect of computing age, and the Apple brand in standardizing the use of these products.
Impact on handhelds
To say that Steve Jobs reinvented, or rather maximized the potential of smart phones, portable music and tablet PCs, would be an understatement. Each of these were already in primitive existence from the 90s onward, but until Jobs returned to Apple and developed the ultimate brand concept for each item, the general public did not embrace them in a massive way. Johnson led a team of developers in envisioning how to make product that would practically do things people actually wanted, in a size format that was easily usable in a person's hand.
Let there be no mistake - no one in the industry from any brand other than Apple got throngs of people to line up at Apple stores waiting to buy an iPod, iPad and iPhone upon their initial release. The entire concept of waiting for the latest consumer products as if it was a hit movie begins and ends with Steve Jobs, and his imprint on handheld technologies. Consumers would make pilgrimages to electronics tradeshows just to hear Jobs speak on the future of the new industry, since it had become clear he was driving its engine.
Impact on music playing
The completion of the evolution of the concept of making music listening portable, that began with the boombox of the 70s and Walkman of the 80s, was completed by Steve Jobs with the iPod circa the 2000's. Apple made the revisions, and case for "music in motion" that was not fully realized before that point, even by MP3 players. Again, he was keen on merging product that functions in ways we would want to use it, with a sleek, compact, futuristic look. On the software side, selling access to music on an online store was also perfected under the Apple iTunes model. Jobs had the foresight to see music was headed towards digital files, divorced from being locked into CDs or other physical source, and could be sold song by song instead of by album.
Impact on video
The impact of Steve Jobs on video is underreported, but real. "Steve Jobs was a pioneer in bringing digital media to the masses with the launch of the Macintosh, which focused on making things easier to do create, curate and distribute our content. QuickTime in particular, helped grow video on the desktop from a postage stamp size video to a full HD video that can be produced entirely on a mobile device," says Larry Kless, President of OnlinVideoPublishing.com. "Apple revolutionized the professional video editing industry with Final Cut Pro, and the home video market with iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto and iTunes. Steve Jobs' innovation and influence in music, film and mobility (iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad) will be remembered long into the future."
Simply by being a figurehead in advancing smart mobile devices, Jobs moved the ball forward with video. Use of a mobile phone for capturing video on the fly was rare circa 2000, but ubiquitous in current handheld use. In turn, video sharing sites such as YouTube have benefited from the evolution of the camera phone function, with video of concerts and other events making up a large portion of the original content uploaded to the site. Apple's rule in helping develop computer animation, particularly for theatrical entertainment, such as the Toy Story movies, is also an underreported fact.
Impact on culture
Steve Jobs created much of the enthusiasm the public has for computers and digital devices, from 1980s forward. The '1984' Macintosh commercial, still one of the most iconic ads in TV history, put forward not just an eye-catching advert, but a vision for defining the difference between Apple and the IBM PC. People get excited over a given software product or PC model at any given time, but the computer buying public was always more influenced by the introduction of Apple products, as a whole line, then they would be over the PC line. Jobs created a "cult of the release" or "next big thing" anticipation format for marketing that made Apple a household name, one that everyone knew of even if they never bought one of his products.
One of the highest achievements of branding has always been to be able to get people to refer to a specific product by the brand name or brand item, instead of its literal name (we speak of using Tide to wash clothes instead of using detergent, and so on). The whole generation has grown up talking about iPods, iPhones, iPads et al, instead of referring to them as portable devices or tablet PCs, which is what they are. Apple has carved out an identity for itself apart from other brands in popular culture more deeply than any other brand in the consumer electronics industry. Steve Jobs accomplished this to an extent that may not be ever reproduced again in pop culture.
|Steve Jobs Timeline of Effect|
Impact on business
In wake of the financial success of Steve Jobs creating the most profitable company on the planet, with Apple now estimated to be worth $623 billion (outstripping Microsoft), a large industry has now emerged analyzing his entire financial model, marketing strategy, and business philosophy. Some may say Jobs simply packed greater total value into this product line than others could with theirs, and as a result money gravitated to his ventures. This in turn allowed Jobs to more fully develop innovative and perfectly (as perfect as one can get) functioning products, while leaving the other products and companies in the dust.
"The competitors simply don't touch people's lives the way Apple does," said famous CNBC he 'Mad Money' stock analyst Jim Cramer, in explaining how Jobs' business model always ended up causing his products to dominate market share. "You have to believe that if Apple made cars, they'd [also] put Toyota, Audi etc. to shame." Other analysts have pointed to this philosophy of hanging around the top people, who in turn don't settle for second best, in order to insure the products had that top level value that would attract customers, market share, and thus attract still more money for future development.
Impact on daily life
"Live each day as if it was your last," Jobs was known to say, particularly in the final years when his pancreatic cancer was telling him his days were short. "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." He operated each day on a tight clock, trying to get something done before his body called it quits. He simply committed to make any impact every day of his life, as many other lives as possible. By concentrating on doing what he loved, surrounding himself with top level people in order to produce it, and making it usable and attractive to the intended audience as possible, he excelled in realizing his goals and dreams.
This philosophy, as much as the technology he brought to market, is what has impacted the daily lives of millions of consumers around the world. Steve Jobs put a dent in the universe (another one of his mottos), and that impression remains deep.