The Day AfterPosted: August 25, 2011
I’ll never forget where I was when I read that Steve Jobs retired. That’s not because I equate the leadership transition of Apple with events like 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination. No, it’s because the location was just too perfect.
On a whim, I took a long bus ride to my local Apple Store to get some technical questions answered about a Time Capsule I’m purchasing. There wasn’t really any reason to go, except that the current lack of internet in my new apartment was a serious drag. What better place to catch up on my RSS than an Apple Store? So there I was, wandering around the shiny gadgets arranged neatly on each table, toying with this and that while I waited for a Specialist to open up. I picked up a white iPhone 4 and was admiring the retina display, when I noticed how much nicer the Stocks icon looked on the high-res screen. I never use Stocks, but I poked the icon for some reason. Of course, Apple was at the top of the list, and I happened to accidentally swipe sideways to the news pane. I froze and stared. It was only a couple minutes after the press release had broke. Slowly I looked up and glanced at the employees, with “they don’t know” running through my head. The last thing I wanted to do was disrupt their very busy day, so I quietly left after dashing off a quick blog post and leaving a fullscreen portrait of Jobs on a corner MacBook Air. Hopefully some curious employee got the message after clearing the screen.
So it’s finally happened, like we all knew it would eventually. It’s a shock to be sure, but Apple has never looked stronger. This is not some portent of doom – Tim Cook will do a fine job, and has been working as CEO for a long time already. Jobs is still feeling well enough to run the board. Besides, Steve is now free to do whatever he wants. When Bill Gates resigned, he started his foundation and spends his time working to cure the world’s most insidious diseases. While I have nothing but the utmost respect for Gate’s new career, Jobs won’t change his passion in any way. No, Steve has always cared about one thing above all, and he’ll deeply involved with Apple’s product strategy for years to come. Even if he isn’t, the company is made up of hand-picked executives, with a succession plan he put together himself. If there was ever a CEO who understood how to protect his beloved company when he was gone, that person is Steve Jobs.
For all the jerk moves Jobs is famous for (nearly all in his younger days,) it’s impossible to ignore how much he’s changed our society. His bicycle for the mind turned out to be bigger than anyone imagined, and I have a feeling his latest hits will be just as influential.