We talk a great deal about the innovations Steve Jobs has brought to society, yet we often don't step back and see his greatest innovation: aesthetics. Jobs' leadership and vision has always adhered to a code of aesthetics that put visionary design in the hands of the masses. As a blog on Apple design put it: "Elegance = Design + Function."
Over 40 years ago, I had a Pininfarina-designed Fiat 124 Sport Spider (a poor man's Ferrari). My father's comment after riding in it was: "This car has a five-speed transmission, convertible top, wood-grain dashboard and great looks; if it had comfort, it would have everything!" Whenever I find that I can't do something on my Mac, iPad or iPhone that is a piece of cake on any BlackBerry or Windows PC, I think of my kelly-green Fiat. If you drink the Apple Kool-Aid, then you have to give up comfort (i.e., some computer functionality you thought you couldn't do without but is missing).
Apple bewitches me. As my "comfort" analogy implies, I know that they do not do everything right, but I don't care. Apple allows us to touch the future. I often look in awe at my Mac and wonder how they were able to form it from a single piece of aluminum.
The iPod, iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air are all products that excel in design and function. They were Best in Class when they were introduced because there was no one else in the class. Each of these products is now the benchmark for every copycat device that has or will follow. A number of recent articles about the Intel Ultrabook mentioned that "it was thinner than a Mac Air." Every tablet that follows will be measured against an iPad. Is it lighter than an iPad? Is the battery life better than an iPad?
The Innovator's DNA talks about Steve Jobs' concern about the original Apple making too much noise. He wanted a quieter fan. In order to create a computer with a quieter fan, he needed to find an engineer (Rod Holt) to design a power source that ultimately revolutionized the way power was delivered to electronic products (i.e., cooler). The pursuit of great design led to technical hardware innovation.
Google, Facebook and Amazon are great companies; each has introduced real innovation into our society. However, none of them offers the tactile pleasure that comes from the adherence to design that we expect from Apple.
I don't think people mob Apple stores to see computers. Computers do pretty much the same things. They come to appreciate Steve Jobs' attention to detail and love of design. They can't be bothered with the technical innovations that sit under the hood.
Part of the Jobs legacy at Apple is innovation through design, not design as an afterthought.