To call someone the most visionary, perceptive and inventive leader of their time would, under any circumstance, be considered hyperbolic bluster. Steve Jobs comes closer than almost any modern figure to defying that law of adjectives.
Nearly half a dozen Apple products driven by Jobs became a part of the modern human experience, setting a model for interaction with technology.
- In the previous century, most people carried only a wallet or purse, a watch and keys. Today, largely because of Jobs, most of us also carry touchscreen smartphones and MP3 players.
- Throughout the previous century, we sat at desks with oversized phones, inboxes and pads of papers. Today, largely because of Jobs, the mouse and the graphical user interface are the elemental tools of the office worker.
- And the iPad is starting a revolution in the way we work, play and learn.
While Apple didn't conceive all of the underlying technology in its products, Jobs and his teams were the ones who figured out how to make them conform to our natural expectations for usability. In the process, they transformed the marketplace over and over.
Steve Jobs is staying on as Apple's Chairman but it's still a sad moment for whatever reasons made his resignation a reality.
It's also a reflective moment for our nation because Jobs personifies everything that is great about America: invention, tenacity and the spirit of competition. And it is the basic principle, too often followed backwards, that if companies pursue at the outset exceptional products and a passion for consumers' needs, everything else -- from marketing to PR to sales -- will fall into place.
We live in the most uncertain times in a generation. The loss of Steve Jobs as a day-to-day force at Apple creates an opportunity and an imperative for others to continue the legacy of his leadership and, in turn, help continue the future of the American spirit.