Steve Jobs' Departure

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...Image via WikipediaIt is not exactly a departure. He will still be Chairperson. But then the Chairperson does not do day to day. He is leaving for health reasons, but he is also leaving at a time when the app looks like might be displaced by HTML5. So he gets to leave while still at the peak.

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The New Yorker

Steve Jobs' Power: As a technology journalist, I’ve often found Jobs utterly maddening. He’s controlling and manipulative. He doesn’t like the press, and, perhaps because of that, he has long had us under his big toe. (Criticize Apple too much and you and your colleagues can lose access to the company and its products.) His ethos has always been that he knows best, and that he, not you, should have maximum control of the products you buy. The ethos of software idealists has always been something of the opposite. ...... And yet, the man is undoubtedly a genius. He built Apple, was forced out, and then, in 1997, returned to resuscitate it. He invented the iPhone and the iPad. I’ve often thought of Apple as something like Singapore. It’s closed, restrictive, and authoritarian. And there’d deserve to be insurrection if things just didn’t work so damn well. ...... Steve Jobs built a cult of personality that gave him power...... Jobs had a power that Cook could not possibly have here, just because he was Jobs. He could summon anyone he wanted to meet with him; he could get journalists to write whatever he wanted them to write; and, if he and Apple threatened to screw you over, you had to believe them.

Searching For Steve Jobs: rarely spent more than ten minutes with a reporter ....... No Hollywood studio chief, no captain of industry, and probably no recent American politician, had a more visible impact on people’s lives. ..... I had just written a story about Google, and the folks at Apple clearly felt that they deserved as much publicity as some upstart search company run by two kids from Stanford. I had to agree...... They suggested that I tell the story of the Apple store. I told them that I had no interest in writing about real estate. They said they would get back to me. ....... the pattern never changed; Jobs turned out astounding new products like popcorn: new iMacs, then MacBooks, and eventually the iPhone and the iPad ....... Jobs’s 2007 introductory keynote for the iPhone was, to the digerati, the equivalent of the Grateful Dead’s 1977 Hartford performance, or Dylan at Newport. When Jobs explained that in order to navigate this mysterious new product, “I just take my finger, and I scroll,” it was at least as exciting to the geeks assembled in the Moscone Center as Lauren Bacall’s explanation to Humphrey Bogart that, to whistle, “Just put your lips together and blow.” (My editor at The New Yorker watched the announcement live on his office computer. Before Jobs was even done describing the new phone, he called me and said, “He had me at multi-touch, widescreen iPod.”) ....... By then I had given up on Steve Jobs as a profile subject. He just didn’t give a damn.

Apple: What Happens Now?: most C.E.O.s could be easily replaced, if not by your average Joe, then by your average executive vice-president. ..... created industries out of whole cloth. And Apple did this not by inventing products that had never been seen before—there were mp3 players before the iPod, smartphones before the iPhone, tablets before the iPad—but rather by making products that were so much better—superior design, more powerful, easier to use—that everyone wanted them....... he had no interest in listening to consumers—he was famously dismissive of market research—yet nonetheless had an amazing sense of what consumers actually wanted. ........ one of Jobs’s most important feats was building a deep management and design team—instead of centralizing power in his own hands, he gave a tremendous amount of responsibility to the executives who worked with him, including most obviously the designer Jonathan Ive and the operational whiz Tim Cook, who ran the company during Jobs’s previous medical leaves and who will now take over as C.E.O. Apple’s enormous profitability in recent years wasn’t just a function of coming up with great ideas. It was also a function of having an organization that was exceptionally good at turning those ideas into products, and doing so in an efficient and relentless manner. And that organization is not going to vanish now that Jobs has stepped down.

Apple After Steve Jobs: The news that Steve Jobs is stepping down as chief executive officer of Apple is rippling through the media, just as yesterday’s earthquake traveled up the East Coast. ....... Apple partisans explain their loyalty with rational arguments about elegant design and freedom from viruses, but their devotion runs as deep as sports fandom or religious faith, and they hang on Jobs’s every word....... Can Apple thrive without Jobs? It almost didn’t the first time around, and shares have plunged this evening......... journalists, bloggers, and fans have been parsing his every utterance, from W.W.D.C. keynotes to purported e-mails to members of the public, the way Moscow reporters used to watch the Kremlin. Apple is in much better financial shape than the Soviet Union was at the end, so I’m not counting on a period of glasnost, at least not yet........ I spend almost all of my waking hours looking at, listening to, touching, or carrying an Apple device, except when I am taking a shower or have been chided for neglecting the children. Sometimes, I’m using more than one at once, listening on my iPhone while reading on the iPad. ...... The iPad has been around for a little more than a year, and so far no other tablet has been able to establish itself as a viable alternative, and laptops and netbooks have lost their appeal. ..... its iCloud initiative suggests a further retreat from the open Web into a closed universe of apps ...... next wave of tablets anticipates the full flowering of HTML5, which will bring Web pages sophisticated enough to behave like apps. Jobs will not be the general leading the battle between apps and the Web, between open and closed systems, but he was the military strategist. And some of those who supported Apple for years will be hoping Jobs’s successors lose this campaign.

The Steve Jobs Sound: the most effective and influential music executive of the decade was Steve Jobs ...... Jobs knew that music fans, like other consumers, don’t hate paying for stuff: they—we—call that shopping, and we love it, so long as there’s something worth buying. ..... the iPod nano is now about the size of a postage stamp, with a touch screen, and it holds enough music to play for a week straight. (It can also do things many iPhones still can’t, like sync with multiple computers, or tune into terrestrial radio.) ...... under his watch, a company known for sleek design helped usher in an era of frothy pop maximalism.

The Wizard Of Apple: —the Mac, the mouse, the laptop, Pixar, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad— ..... Jobs battled with Microsoft, and Silicon Valley companies, and music and publishing and Hollywood companies. He was disrupting their comfortable business models. Yet as irate as Bill Gates and others got with Jobs, they knew he set a standard they could not ignore. They scoffed at first when he said Apple would produce both software and hardware, and now they follow. They scoffed when he insisted on consumer friendly products that needed no elaborate instructions written as if by a committee of engineers, and now they try to follow. They scoffed when he opened Apple stores, noting that Disney and Sony and others had failed at this, and now they follow. They scoffed that he was impossible to partner with because he was dictatorial, and then they clamored to partner with Apple....... Steve Jobs could be arrogant and unpleasant, a brutal man a sane person would not want to work for. But the products he created will be his monuments. And so will the memory of how he created those products.

Steve Job's Lesson: The first wave of personal computing was one of the times Apple couldn’t completely control a commodity. P.C.s capitalized on Apple’s high price point, and the Apple operating system gave Microsoft the raw material to create the mass-market Windows OS. Those brutal lessons (and lawsuits) were burned permanently into Apple’s cultural memory; when it came time for a portable mp3 player, the iPod was designed and priced to be relatively accessible, and the constant vigilance of product upgrading gave the iPod and its many-sized children genuine market control. In the smartphone market, the iPhone has not been unseated by Google’s various Android devices, and the introduction of the iPhone 5 will likely bump the company back up into first place. The iPad is by far the most popular tablet, and nothing has come to market that even hints at challenger status. (Without serious competition, the iPad’s upward curve is more iPod than iPhone.) ...... But those are all things, and much of the future of computing will be about functionality: data clouds, subscription music services, a variety of mobile synchronicites. Apple’s new iOS 5 and iCloud service will take on much of this all at once, automatically copying your iTunes library into the cloud and offering a chunk of free storage (and then a very large chunk for a small yearly subscription fee). But Apple has barely any presence in the world of social media, which may be why Twitter is integrated into iOS 5, a rare collaboration between the notoriously proprietary Jobs and another company. Services like Spotify are tiny next to Apple’s terrifying market cap (which now outstrips the G.D.P. of many countries) but Apple can’t be lazy about any competition now. The company caught its second wind because of music—a thing Microsoft has never understood —and it is the iPod and iTunes that shot Apple upwards, before the smartphones and tablets lifted them up yet again...... iTunes is the world’s biggest music retailer, but people are increasingly happy to simply stream music over subscription services like MOG and Spotify—ownership is already an alien concept to younger listeners who use YouTube as their radio. So the iCloud may hoover up all of your goodies, but a chunk of the world has no goodies and sees no need for them. ..... Nobody is not paying attention—and that can’t be a bad way to leave the stage.

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