Like many other technology enthusiasts, I was very sad last week when I learned that Steve Jobs passed away. There is no doubt that he will be remembered as a global thought leader, tastemaker and transformative figure in the technology, film, and music industries.
When I think about Apple and their recent success, one vivid memory sticks out in my head. I was in college, reading Jon Stewart’s book “America” in late 2004. Midway though the book I found a satirical timeline containing a handful of significant historical inventions, each accompanied by a comical blurb. The usual suspects were all there – the light bulb, the automobile, the locomotive, the Internet, et cetera. Then there was a picture of a first generation iPod. Next to the iPod the blurb read: “The device that allowed Apple to stay in business another 10 years before being crushed by Microsoft.”
It seems silly now that we would have ever believed those words, but at the time, in late 2004 – with Apple stock trading for under $20 – I distinctly remember that I did believe it. I really thought back then that Apple was going to go out of business and although it may be difficult to get people to admit it – the decline of Apple was actually popular opinion.
Flash forward seven years to 2011. Apple surges past ExxonMobil to become the most valuable company in America with a market capitalization of $337 billion. In those short seven years, Apple has changed the way people buy and listen to music, redefined the mobile phone and invented the tablet computer. What’s more amazing is that all this change and momentum which propelled Apple from the company I thought would go out of business in 2004, to the most valuable company in America today was driven by one man. That alone is astounding, but when you consider that the man who made all this happen was also dying of cancer with only a few years to live – it becomes truly unbelievable.
As I sit here pecking out this blog entry on my iPad, I think it’s safe to say that we won’t be forgetting Steve Jobs anytime soon.