Why Steve Jobs matters

When I think of Steve Jobs, feelings of wonder and absolute awe rush over me. Jobs is without a doubt, the most iconoclastic creative mind of the modern age. If that makes me a fanboy, so be it. If liking Apple Inc. products makes me a fanboy, I’m fine with that too.

Jobs is in a league of his own. No one has done more to disrupt mobile technology, consumer electronics and entertainment in such a short span of time. His personality, brilliant mind and business acumen commands respect, fear and unbridled attention. When Jobs says something or does something, it matters. People take note and react.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Jobs in action maybe a handful of times over the years. And sure, I’m supposed to be an objective journalist, but few would argue that there is a more powerful presenter (some would call spin doctor) than Jobs. A keynote from Jobs is unparalleled in the business world. His presence simply can’t be replaced.

Now that the inevitable has happened with Jobs resigning as CEO of Apple, I mostly feel sadness. Not for me or anyone who spends more time with Apple products than their loved ones, but for Jobs and his loved ones. I worry about what comes next for Jobs and sincerely hope he’s able to beat the medical ills that have plagued his body for years now. Most of all, I want Jobs and everyone else in this world to have the longest and most fulfilling life possible.

I am certain that Jobs did everything he could to hold on to the job that he loves and represents so very much. Countless others will make guesses as to what this move must portend for Jobs and his health, but they have no idea what’s going on in Jobs’ body or mind and neither do I. The man deserves his privacy and all the quality time that he can get with his family and friends.

What we do know is that Jobs is not leaving Apple entirely. As chairman of the board, I can only assume that he will be the most heavily involved chairman of virtually any corporation on the globe. Until he can’t, of course. No one cares about Apple and its imprint on the world and society at large more than Jobs. He will be involved in every decision possible, but Tim Cook is the new sheriff in town. Apple is his baby now and he couldn’t be taking over at a better time.

I bought my first Apple product, an iPod, in 2004. The company’s stock has grown almost 25 times in value since then. In those seven years, Apple’s influence has probably grown at an even greater rate. My wallet surely did its part to help keep that trajectory on course. I’ve gone through five Macbooks, a couple iPod Touches and every version of the iPhone since that first clunky iPod. I haven’t loved everything about the iPhone. In fact, I’ve tried to quit a few times now, but I always come back.

Prior to 2004, I was very much in the anti-Apple camp. I can’t explain the switch without conjuring up the same reasons that Jobs and his colleagues at Apple use to explain the rise of Apple. Simplicity, attention to design, materials and a clean user experience matter.

One of Jobs’ greatest achievements is the culture he has put in place at Apple and the legacy he leaves behind. The same driving forces that have guided Apple for the past decade carry on through the people Jobs has brought under his wing. Does anyone think Jony Ive, SVP of industrial design at Apple, is going to be any less inspired or motivated without Jobs at the head of the table?

Still, there is no question that Steve Jobs’ mark on the mobile industry is unmatched. I will miss seeing him on stage at Apple events, but perhaps he’ll make an appearance for his iconic “one more thing” moment from time to time. Call him an icon, a cutthroat competitor or the most brazenly secretive and combative executive around, and the end result is still the same. Jobs is one of a kind. His time at Apple has mattered a great deal.

His absence from day-to-day dealings at Apple will leave a void, but not a vacuum of power or creativity that can’t be filled.

Steve Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple