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Remembering Steve Jobs : Illness and His Legacy

by The Finance Kid on October 6, 2011

in Entrepreneur

Steve Jobs thumb2 Remembering Steve Jobs : Illness and His Legacy

Ill­ness

Jobs was diag­nosed with pan­cre­atic can­cer in 2004. After surgery he returned to Apple, but had to take another leave of absence in 2009, ulti­mately under­go­ing a liver trans­plant. He took his final leave of absence in Jan­u­ary 2011.

In August, he for­mally resigned as CEO. “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expec­ta­tions as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfor­tu­nately, that day has come,” Jobs said in a let­ter addressed “to the Apple Board of Direc­tors and the Apple Community.”

I believe Apple’s bright­est and most inno­v­a­tive days are ahead of it. And I look for­ward to watch­ing and con­tribut­ing to its suc­cess in a new role,” Jobs wrote. “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work along­side you.”

Jobs’s Legacy

It would be a mis­take to char­ac­ter­ize Jobs’s time at Apple sim­ply by the prod­ucts the com­pany released. Those prod­ucts came about because of prin­ci­ples held by Jobs that he made sure were shared by oth­ers at Apple, espe­cially as he refash­ioned the com­pany fol­low­ing his 1997 return to Cupertino.

The prod­ucts men­tioned through­out this story might not have come to pass were it not for Apple’s con­stant need to inno­vate. That’s an atti­tude dri­ven by Jobs, dur­ing flush times as well as well as when the tech busi­ness was less than boom­ing. It’s worth not­ing that some of Apple’s biggest prod­uct releases dur­ing Jobs’s tenure—the iPod and the iPad, most notably—were devel­oped dur­ing reces­sions when con­sumers the­o­ret­i­cally were less inclined to spend money on pricey electronics.

The way we’re going to sur­vive is to inno­vate our way out of this,” Jobs told Time Mag­a­zine in early 2002, a strat­egy the com­pany returned to when the econ­omy went south again in 2008. In both instances, Apple under Jobs upped its research-and-development spend­ing, help­ing the com­pany pro­duce a strong prod­uct lineup that could weather tough times.

It goes with­out say­ing that under Jobs, Apple became syn­ony­mous with great design. From the early days of the Mac­in­tosh, when Jobs agi­tated for rec­tan­gles with rounded cor­ners, no aspect of the design process escaped the company’s attention.

But Jobs was about more than design just for the sake of look­ing good—the design deci­sions Apple makes also take usabil­ity into account. That 2002 Time Mag­a­zine arti­cle recounts the cre­ation of the first flat-panel iMac and how Jobs scrapped an early ver­sion of the desk­top because its design failed to impress. Time’s Josh Quit­tner recounted the sub­se­quent meet­ing between Jobs and Apple exec­u­tive Jonathan Ive:

That’s an approach to cre­at­ing prod­ucts that sticks with other Apple employ­ees, even after they leave the com­pany. “You almost imag­ine that Steve is in your office,” Flip­board founder and ex-Apple engi­neer Evan Doll told the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle. “You say to your­self, what would he say about this? When you’re kick­ing around an idea for a prod­uct, or for a fea­ture, you’ll even say it in discussion—’Steve Jobs would love this!’ or, more often, ‘Steve Jobs would say this isn’t good enough.’ He’s like the con­science sit­ting on your shoulder.”

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hugh Kimura February 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I was lucky enough to be at the 2005 Stanford speech. I didn’t realize at the time, how significant that speech was going to be. You cannot really understand the brilliance of Apple products, until you actually own them. That was the case for me.
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