Steve Jobs is still Chairman of the Board at Apple, and he is still going to be involved in steering the iconic tech company, but he has officially handed the CEO duties over to Tim Cook. Whether you are an avid fan of Apple, or an ardent Apple-basher, Steve Jobs has had an undeniable effect on technology and the world around you.
Here's the thing. I am not an Apple fanboy. I have never owned an Apple computer. Ever.
I have never met Steve Jobs. I have never seen Steve Jobs live. I have never stepped foot in Cupertino.
For years, Apple to me represented technology that was simply out of my price range. I was aware of the Apple II, but I got a Commodore 64. I got to use a Macintosh when I was 14 thanks to a friend whose mother worked for Apple, and I wanted one--but I got a Tandy 1000.
I am a PC. I am a Microsoft MVP. I have been a dedicated Windows user since Windows 3.1. I spent decades bashing Apple for making overpriced toys that could never compete against "real" computers. Yet, I didn't really think anything of it when Bill Gates stepped down and turned Microsoft over to Steve Ballmer.
I have always had some appreciation for the Mac, but I've never been able to justify the cost when PCs with comparable hardware could be purchased for much less. The iPhone and iPad have changed that for me. These Apple devices have taught me that technology can not be measured by comparing hardware specs on paper. The user experience is an intangible.
Four years ago, I had never owned anything made by Apple. Now I have an iPhone 4, and an iPad 2, and I am anxious to go out and buy a MacBook Air. I hadn't even really heard of Apple TV, but then my wife got me one for my birthday and now I can't imagine not having it. I can't wait for the iPhone 5, and iOS 5, and iCloud.
But, even if I never bought an Apple product, I wouldn't be able to deny the impact that Apple and Steve Jobs have had on my life. Without Macintosh, would we have Windows? Without the iPhone, what would smartphones look like today? Without the iPad, would tablets even exist (I mean tablets as we know them today--not the failed tablets from a decade ago)?
Thanks to Steve Jobs, Apple has had a transformative impact on virtually every technology and service it has touched. Even if you don't appreciate Apple technology or culture, you have to at least have some respect for the ways that Apple and Steve Jobs have influenced the technologies you use and appreciate every day. I do.
I have to say that I am more than a little shocked at the emotion I feel over Steve Jobs resignation. For starters, it is really just a semantic change of title. Jobs has already been out as CEO on a medical leave of absence for over a year. Tim Cook has already been at the helm, guiding the company during that time. This isn't a dramatic shift in leadership like when HP ousted Mark Hurd and brought in Leo Apotheker.
Apple is on top of the world--literally and figuratively. Thanks to Jobs genius and vision, Apple has transformed not just mobile computing, but personal computing as a whole, with the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air. It has transformed media with iTunes, iCloud, and Apple TV. The impact of Apple on technology is evident in small ripples and big waves everywhere you look.
There are similar products and services available from competitors, but it is like saying there are other theme parks and movies aside from Disney. It is like saying there are other NBA players aside from Michael Jordan. Steve Jobs is to Apple as Walt Disney was to Disney, or Michael Jordan was to the NBA--the "Willy Wonka" that sees beyond reality to bring that magic.
I'd like to believe that Steve Jobs is resigning now because he has accomplished all he hoped to at Apple, and that he is confident in the executive team he has in place. Even if both of those things are true, though, it is hard to ignore the reality of Steve Jobs recurring health issues.
Regardless of where the future takes Steve Jobs, I want to personally thank him for his genius and vision that have helped to shape where the future will take me.