I remember sometime in 2003, I was still an undergrad and I was working in retail. I showed up for work one day and one of my fellow workers said to me, “I have to show you something really cool.” We walked back to the electronics department, he opened up the case and said, “check this out. It’s from Apple. They call it an iPod.” I played around with the iPod for about 15 minutes, looked at him it said, “this is really cool, but it’s a bit pricey. Is anybody going to buy it?”
That was the genius of Steve Jobs. He didn’t invent the graphical user interface, but he perfected it like no other. I still remember seeing Mac OS X for the first time and it convinced me that I needed to switch back to using Apple’s products. It was so much more fluid and user friendly than Windows, but in quintessential Jobs fashion, it was also elegant and beautiful. And this says nothing about reliability. I have first generation MacBook Pro on my desk at home. First generation means that it’s 5 1/2 years old. It still runs like new and even if it crashed tomorrow (which it won’t), it would still be the longest-lasting and most reliable computer I have ever owned.
The creation of the iPod in an of itself was a remarkable innovation (thousands of songs on one device!), but Steve Jobs did so much more than simply create a new way to listen to music; he revolutionized the way we purchase music. It also revolutionized the way that we access content. Do you want to listen to NPR or ESPN Radio or EconTalk? The iPod and the iTunes store enabled you to listen to many of your favorite radio programs anywhere you want whenever you want. And would programs like EconTalk even exist without the creation of the iPod or iTunes? The iPhone allowed us the same functionality while simultaneously offering the ability to make phone calls, but it was also so much more. In doing so, it revolutionized the way we think about and use our phones.
In my mind, though, perhaps the best creation, and what will turn out to be the most revolutionary, is the iPad. While I do not yet own an iPad (donations are accepted), I really see the iPad and tablets in general as being the new laptop. It is so much more enjoyable to surf the internet, watch digital content, and read journal articles, newspapers and magazines on a tablet. What the iPod did for the way we listen to music, the iPad will do to the way we read and consume other digital content, like movies and television shows.
Steve Jobs had perhaps the most innovative mind of the last century. Since the founding of Apple, Jobs created more value and perhaps did more to improve the everyday lives of individuals than perhaps any other. The world has lost a great mind. Thanks for everything, Steve.