Steve Jobs, the co-founder and, until recently, CEO of Apple, died last night at home with his family. Jobs had lived with pancreatic cancer for four years, but had carried on working at the company he built from nothing – twice – for almost all of that period. When he announced his resignation as CEO in August, many hoped that it would be little more than another period of temporary absence, but sadly that was not the case.
His death brought tributes from all corners, up to President Obama himself:
The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.
It is probably not hyperbole to describe Jobs as the best CEO in the world – as many have done. He was a fantastic marketer, had an innate sense of design, and seemingly knew what his customers wanted better than they did themselves. As Sunny Hundal pointed out:
Steve Jobs on iPad market research: “None. It’s not consumers’ job to know what they want” – lesson there for politicians?
It will forever remain astounding that the man who took Apple from near bankruptcy in 1997 to being the biggest company in the world was a turtleneck-wearing vegetarian Buddhist, a far cry from the bullish “captains of industry” who insist that they must be obeyed at all costs lest the economy perish. In other ways, however, Jobs was not so unlike them.
One of his first actions upon returning to Apple was to cut the company’s corporate philanthropy programs to save money, an action that was never reversed even when the company was making a profit of $14 billion a year; and for all that the company’s success is inextricably linked with his personal prowess, the factory which actually makes their products was the heart of a string of worker suicides.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Steve Jobs was the best at what he did, which was make groundbreaking products which engendered personal connections where none should have been possible. His absence will be felt keenly, not only across the tech sector, but by the many millions of us who use the devices which wouldn’t exist without him.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.