Steve Jobs leaves behind a nearly unrivaled legacy of invention and innovation.
His products are loved by millions and copied by competitors; his design aesthetic has become the barometer by which all other things are compared, and his vision of the future has given life to products and services that have changed entire industries.
Are we likely to see another human being in our lifetime wield as great an influence?
Mashable contacted industry insiders, entrepreneurs and celebrated technologists to get their perspectives. Could there ever be another person capable of profoundly changing the world through software and hardware design as Jobs has done?
History Suggests People With These Attributes Will Occasionally Emerge
At the high end of innovative human achievement, the details never repeat; that’s what defines the innovation.
But history suggests that in at least a fair fraction of civilizations, people with these attributes will occasionally emerge.
A Product Of An Era That Was
Yes there will be. And no there won’t be.
The sensibility that Jobs brought to products — beautiful design, attention to simplicity — humanizes design and end-to-end coupling of hardware and software. These things are all very much part of the future we in this industry are building.
There is so much still to be built. Smart device-based devices and software, dumb devices and software. Social services. Beautiful services! The USA is well positioned to continue to lead in technology and web services. We are makers in this field — and I hope we will remain leaders and makers.
All that said, there won’t be another person who has such a singular influence on hardware and software and innovation. The market today tends to reward and focus people on quick hits versus deep investigation and commitment. Jobs spent the better part of his life thinking about the human/computer interface — from Newton to the sheet of glass I’m typing on now (iPhone). That kind of focus in one company, by one person covering hardware and software is a product of an era that was.
Some Of Us Will Make It Happen Again
Will there be another Steve Jobs? At a different time, different place, and different focus, yes.
There are a very few people in the world that stand up to what Steve created. His willingness to be uncompromising, even in the face of great difficulty, and to have brilliant insight … these qualities are hard to find. Yet every once in a while, there are individuals that out of vision, or perhaps need, stand up, stand in an uncompromising place, and create.
As I reflect on the story that I have heard about Steve’s upbringing, I think that the conditions of his youth, more than anything else, are the source of what created him. Early struggle, with a family that cared for him, but still was in struggle … these things laid the foundation. Finding his way to Zen meditation practice gave him focus. Dropping in on classes (e.g. his insight about print because of the calligraphy classes that he took) gave him insight into other worlds that he brought to Apple. And Silicon Valley gave him a place to grow his dreams and vision.
Although I could never measure my own accomplishments against his, I do believe that I, and others, have followed a simliar path — a path driven by uncompromisingly driving a great vision. Some of us will make it happen again.
Candidates. Sadly, at this note … this is not clear to me. Perhaps it’s because Steve’s passing happened quicker than I thought it would. I do believe, though, that with the events of this year, we’ll see others step forward.
Getting to work at NeXT changed my life … in Steve, I feel lucky to have had a hero that I got to learn from.
Jobs Set a New Standard
Speaking both as the founder of Pandora and as a longtime musician, I can say that no one brought more innovation and more opportunity to music than Steve and Apple.
His extraordinary vision and tenacity, and the artistry of the Apple products set a new standard for everyone.
– Tim Westergren, founder & chief strategy officer, Pandora
People Thought There Would Never Be Another Edison
It’s easy to say there won’t be. Largely because, well, there won’t be.
But people probably thought there would never be another Edison, either. And here we are, celebrating the life of Steve Jobs and every amazing thing he did.
A Singular Combination of Genius & Execution
Will there ever be another Steve Jobs? No.
The combination of genius and execution at his level is so singular that it is meaningless to compare it with others. Was there another Mozart? Shakespeare? Einstein? There will never be another Steve Jobs, but — exactly because his lifetime focus was on the very ideas of experience and design and perfection — he has inspired ten thousand people to come after him, and stand on his shoulders, and reach much further than he did.
A Unique Combo of Vision, Design, Performance, Leadership & Elegance
Steve Jobs’ passing has me both saddened, humbled and inspired all at the same time. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. My heart goes out to his family, everyone at Apple and everyone affected by his amazing achievements.
Steve brought to light a unique combination of vision, design, performance, leadership and elegance that inspired and changed the world.
– Adam Brotman, senior vice president, Starbucks Digital Ventures
Jobs & Apple Transcend Generations
I don’t think there will be another Steve Jobs. Three main reasons:
Very few people have the sheer ability to produce products like Steve did. This has been discussed a lot. Steve was a product visionary: He thought years ahead to launch spectacular devices. He said “no” when something wasn’t right. People talk about the small stuff, like an icon’s color being slightly off. But more importantly was the big stuff, like not releasing a tablet for years until the hardware and software was ready. That takes patience.
You need to build an amazing team around you. Apple has this. From the executives to all the employees, Apple has the most spectacular set of engineers and designers in the world. You can’t do it alone, and you need people you can trust and who have the same passion you do.
There are other product geniuses out there, but the reason why none will match Steve is because Apple builds products that really touch people’s lives. Our phones help us communicate, iTunes for music, video chat, photos… These are very emotional things for us and that’s what Apple builds. They transcend generations and technology.
Jobs Was Willy Wonka
Steve Jobs was Willy Wonka — a brilliant, creative, determined, private man who made so many people believe his toys were magical!
It is amazing how his death has been elevated into a loss of such monumental proportions as one would expect with the death of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, or JFK. A good friend of mine said it best: “Perhaps in a world that is obsessed with ‘stuff’ and money, Steve Jobs was a messiah.”
A Seismic Shift From Content To Product
I don’t think our generation will see another Steve Jobs, if by that we mean the combined impact on product and design, as well as the business world.
In short, what he did turning around Apple as a business is pretty much unheard of in the technology industry — to go from an existing, maturing business that was literally running out of cash, failing products in the face of a dominant competitor (Microsoft) to go on to be one of the most valuable companies in the world … I think that one is a no.
As a leader, taking big bets, inspiring, being visionary while risking a multi-billion dollar company, I can’t think of another example, and the world of business is rife with the other side of the coin.
On the other hand, his influence on the world of products and design will indeed lead to “another” Steve Jobs in terms of consumer impact.
In my mind, Steve Jobs represents a seismic shift from content to product. It’s hard to internalize but having been within large media organizations there’s always a belief that content alone will drive audiences, build platforms, determine winners.
What Steve did was to ignite our passions for products … from Google to Facebook these are entire organizations and businesses that have styled themselves after Apple placing a critical importance on product — information and user design, quality of experience, simplicity of form and function. Just take a look at any developer conference and suddenly you are seeing a different breed of young design-influenced, product-centric teams. I credit Steve with that shift.
The Life & Times of Steve Jobs
February 24, 1955: Steve Jobs is born in San Francisco. He is adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs.
1969: Jobs meets Steve Wozniak at Homestead High School.
April 1, 1976: Founds Apple with Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne. Wayne would later sell back his stake in the company, after becoming skittish that Apple would succeed.
July 1976: The Apple I goes on sale for $666.66. The computer was a fully assembled circuit board, however, users had to provide their own case, keyboard, power supply and display. About 200 units were made, many with wooden cases.
April 17, 1977: The Apple II makes its debut at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco. In June, the system goes on sale. It becomes a huge success and helps kickstart the personal computer revolution.
1979: Jobs visits Xerox PARC and gets a glimpse at the mouse and the graphical user interface. Jobs immediately realizes that the GUI is the future of computing.
December 12, 1980: Apple goes public. Its shares are priced at $22 and close at $29 their first day, giving the company a market valuation of 1.77 billion.
March 1981: Jobs becomes chairman of the board at Apple.
February 15, 1982: Jobs appears on the over of Time magazine.
April 8, 1983: Jobs convinces John Sculley, then CEO of Pepsi, to join Apple as its CEO. Jobs famously asked Sculley if he would rather “sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?”
January 22, 1984: Apple’s “1984” commercial introducing the Macintosh airs during the Super Bowl.
May 28, 1985: John Sculley and the Apple board of directors fire Jobs from his role as head of the Mac division.
September 13, 1985: Jobs resigns from Apple and goes on to found NeXT.
1986: Jobs buys The Graphics Group, which would later become known as Pixar Animation Studios, from George Lucas.
October 12, 1988: The NeXT computer makes its debut.
1989: Pixar’s animated short, Tin Toy wins an Academy Award.
March 18, 1991: Jobs marries Laurene Powell.
February 11, 1993: NeXT stops selling hardware in order to focus on software. That software NeXTSTEP, would end up becoming the building blocks for Mac OS X and iOS.
November 1995: Disney releases Toy Story over Thanksgiving weekend and amidst a big media campaign. The film is a box office sensation.
November 29, 1995: Pixar goes public and its resulting IPO makes Jobs a billionaire.
June 1996: Triumph of the Nerds airs on PBS. Jobs is featured prominently alongside Microsoft founder and CEO, Bill Gates.
December 1996: Jobs convinces Apple to buy NeXT and its assets for $400 million. In exchange, he will return to the company in what is initially posed as a “limited advisory role.”
July 9, 1997: Apple CEO Gil Amelio resigns. Jobs is made interim CEO, or “iCEO.” Jobs still maintains his post as CEO of Pixar.
August 1997: Jobs announces that Apple will be signing a new business partnership with arch rival Microsoft.
May 6, 1998: Jobs announces the iMac. The translucent, egg-shaped aqua-marine computer looks like nothing else on the planet. It helps kick off Apple’s renaissance and re-birth.
June 20, 1999: Jobs is portrayed by Noah Wyle in the TNT telefilm, *Pirates of Silicon Valley.* Wyle will appear on-stage with Jobs at Macworld later that sumer.
July 1999: Te clam-shell iBook is released. It has lots of fun colors and built-in wireless.
Image courtesy of SacBee
January 5, 2000: Steve Jobs drops the “interim” from his title and becomes Apple’s permanent CEO.
May 2001: The first Apple retail store is opened. Within a decade, more than 300 stores would pop up worldwide. Apple also officially releases Mac OS X, its next generation operating system.
October 23, 2001: Jobs announces the iPod. Slashdot famously sums up the device, writing “No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.” The world would be proven wrong.
April 28, 2003: The iTunes Music Store launches for Mac users.
February 2004: Pixar and Disney appear to be at an impasse for future distribution deals.
August 2004: Jobs announces that he will be taking a short leave of absence to recover from surgery. He reveals that a cancerous tumor was found in his pancreas but that he is expected to make a full recovery.
January 10, 2005: The Mac mini is introduced.
June 2005: Apple announces that it is transitioning to Intel processors. This decision will make Apple a true competitor in the world of computer hardware.
January 2006: Disney buys Pixar for $7.4 billion. Jobs gets 7% of Disney stock, becoming its largest individual shareholder and earning himself a seat on the board.
June 2006: Jobs’s thin appearance causes concern at WWDC.
January 9, 2007: Jobs unveils the iPhone. For the next six months, it will captivate the tech world before its release. Jobs also announces that Apple Computer, Inc. will just become Apple, Inc.
June 29, 2007: The iPhone is released.
January 15, 2008: Jobs takes the stage at Macworld for the final time and introduces the MacBook Air.
June 2008: Jobs’s gaunt appearance at WWDC again cause concerns over his health.
January 14, 2009: Jobs announces that he is taking a leave of absence to focus on his health. Tim Cook takes over as acting-CEO.
April 2009: Jobs undergoes a successful liver transplant.
June 2009: Jobs returns to work at Apple.
January 2010: Jobs introduces the iPad to the world.
April 2010: The iPad goes on sale and quickly becomes the fastest selling new electronic gadget of all time.
January 17, 2011: Jobs announces that he is taking an extended leave of absence to focus on his health.
February 2011: Jobs pleases fans by introducing the iPad 2 to the public.
August 24, 2011: Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple, advocating for Tim Cook to act as his replacement. Cook is appointed by the board, who also vote to make Jobs chairman.
October 5, 2011: Steve Jobs passes away due to complications stemming from pancreatic cancer.
Image courtesy of Jonathan Mak