I came home from dinner tonight to the news that Steve Jobs had resigned as CEO of Apple. In his letter of resignation he recommended Tim Cook as his successor. I will admit I am a fan of Steve Jobs and Apple products. Is Steve Jobs egotistical, a perfectionist and a control freak yes and thank God he is. His laser like focus has helped to transform the computer, media and mobile industries over the past 13+ years. Go back to 2000 when he officially became CEO. Most people were still buying music on CD. The mobile players that did exist were bulky and had terrible UI. I had a Nomad Creative Jukebox (I actually still have it) and I thought it was fine, no to be honest I thought it was pretty cool. Then I picked up a second generation iPod and fell in love with it. Everything from the way it felt in my hand to the easy to use menu was like a breath of fresh air. With the introduction of the iPod and iTunes Apple became the leader in the effort that pushed the media companies to allow the legal downloading of music. This changed the music industry forever, especially how they distribute music. Since then the number of CDs being sold has steadily gone down as the downloading of music through the iTunes has grown. Brick and mortar companies, like Sam Goody’s and Tower Records were the going strong in 2001 now they have long gone out of business. If Apple had stopped with the iPod Apple would probably had been fine, but that wasn’t how Steve Jobs worked. He had the unique ability to take on an establish industry and turn it on it’s ear. In January 2007 Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, which helped to establish the Smartphone industry. This in turn lead to the direct growth of an app Eco-system which has become the backbone of many small companies. Four years later the effect of the iPhone is still being felt throughout the mobile industry, just look at the latest news coming out of Nokia and Motorola. Finally in January 2010 Steve Jobs introduced the iPad as if to say I am not done yet, how this will effect the PC industry in the long run is yet to be seen, but it has certainly shook the industry in the short term.
On the negative side, many developers complain that the Jobs’ way is a close system, where Apple controls everything and ignores developers complaints and wishes. Another complaint is that iTunes has become blotted with the addition of movies, tv shows, books and applications. Apple’s opponents both within the business community and outside have begun to question Apple’s patent policy. Many complain that Steve Jobs and Apple are starting to use their patents not to further innovation, but to try to squash their opponents.
As an end-user I appreciate what Steve Jobs has done to move not only the PC, but the music and mobile industry into the future. I have no doubt that Apple will be fine under Tim Cook. He ably took control of Apple during Steve Jobs’ recent medical leave of absents. He has been Steve Jobs’ right hand man for the last few years so I don’t expect any major changes in the short term. Whether you are a fan or not of Steve Jobs, you can not deny he has had a great effect on multiple industries.