In the midst of the global events taking place today; Arab revolutions; the rise in the price of oil, gold, and other commodities; the extraordinary recession being felt by Europe and the US which is causing an unprecedented unemployment crisis; and a volatile international stock market; what is in my opinion the most important piece of economic news in recent days has almost been overshadowed, namely the resignation of Steve Jobs as Apple CEO, particularly after all of his resounding successes and accomplishments. The business world received the news of Steve Jobs resignation with a mixture of both sadness and pride; sadness because Steve Jobs, who is in his mid-fifties and at the top of his profession, has resigned from his position for health reasons as he continues his battle with cancer. Meanwhile, there is pride at the tremendous and outstanding achievements made by Steve Jobs throughout his wondrous career. Jobs revolutionized the computer industry, being responsible for the concept of the personal computer that can be used as part of one’s daily life. This computer simplifies one’s life with regards to entertainment, education, development, communication, and information; all in a simple and groundbreaking manner.
Steve Jobs is a man of modest appearance, whose personal style has remained constant over many years and who is known for his jeans, black turtleneck sweaters, and round glasses. His appearance at press conferences and product launches could be characterized by adjectives such as precision, quality, and expertise. He would use a simple style and language, but his message and goal were always clear. This is a trait that prompted communication and public relations experts to write books about Steve Jobs’ communication style, not to mention the books written about Jobs’ leadership and management style; another area he excelled in.
Steve Jobs was obsessed by the details, and this is something that has allowed Apple to reach the heights that it has today. Every Apple product was closely monitored and evaluated by Jobs, whilst the Macintosh computer was an industry changer, challenging the domination of Bill Gates' Microsoft, and forcing him to simplify his operating system.
Even music has been influenced by Jobs, and today the iPod is the preferred music listening device, with people across the world choosing to listen to their music collection, not to mention audio recordings, and even the Quran, via this device which has an extremely user-friendly interface. The communications industry has also been revolutionized by Jobs and the iPhone, which has become the most popular ‘smartphone’ in the world. Apple competitors like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and even BlackBerry have been sent reeling by the iPhone’s success, and they are trying to figure out how to replicate this and win back their market share from Apple.
Of course, Steve Jobs’ success continues with his latest “gift” to the world, namely the iPad. I personally witnessed how amazing the iPad tablet is when I watched in astonishment as my five-year-old daughter, and a friend of my father ─ aged 70, were both easily adept at using this magnificent device. I watched this scene in wonder, aware that I was truly witnessing a cross-generational product.
I remember once, when drinking coffee with a Western friend, I told him “your politicians no longer dazzle us, they are full of duplicity and injustice, but so long as you ─ in your society ─ are able to produce figures like Steve Jobs, you will have the attention of our youth.”
Therefore we say thanks to Steve Jobs; it has been an interesting and exciting journey!
(The writer is a businessman and prominent columnist for Asharq Al Awsat where this article was first printed on Aug. 31, 2011.)