Thursday, 06 October 2011 11:40

Vale Steve Jobs


Apple co-founder, chairman, and former CEO Steve Jobs has died. The news, although not unexpected, marks the passing of an era and will send shockwaves around the IT world.

Mr Jobs founded Apple Computer in 1976 along with Steve Wozniak (designer of the company's early products including the Apple I and Apple II) and Ron Wayne. He left the company in 1985 following a power struggle with then CEO John Sculley, but returned to the fold when Apple acquired NeXT, the company he founded after leaving Apple.

Shortly after, he was appointed interim CEO and subsequently CEO. He was well known for drawing a $1 salary, but received other benefits including Apple shares and a Gulfstream jet.

Mr Jobs oversaw Apple's renaissance, which revolved around the simplification of the product line into four quadrants - consumer vs professional, and portable vs desktop - and a new focus on industrial design that differentiated the company's products from the traditional 'beige boxes'.

The introduction of the iPod in 2001 and subsequently the iTunes Store marked the real beginning of Apple's transition from a computer company to a more broadly based business. It also marked the start of a more integrated business model where Apple was selling content as well as hardware, but perhaps most significantly doing so by providing a user experience that customers warmed to.

In 2010, a web site associated with the Wall Street Journal gave Mr Jobs the title 'CEO of the Decade'.


Mr Jobs was not just a 'big picture' executive, but also had hands-on involvement with many of the company's products and is listed as co-inventor of many of Apple's patents. It is said that one of the reasons early iPods had relatively high volume levels was to compensate for his impaired hearing. A subsequent software update was needed to reduce the maximum volume to meet consumer regulations in certain countries, and more recent models allow users - or their parents - to set the maximum volume.

In 2004, Mr Jobs was treated surgically for pancreatic cancer. He returned to work, but in January 2009 took a medical leave of absence. Details were initially hard to come by, which caused some investors concern.

He again returned to his duties after a liver transplant, but in January 2011 he took an indefinite medical leave of absence, and then COO Tim Cook over Mr Jobs' day to day responsibilities. In August he resigned as CEO, and Mr Cook was formally appointed as his successor.

When Mr Jobs was trying to bring then PepsiCo executive John Sculley to Apple, he reportedly asked "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?" There is little doubt that Mr Jobs changed the world.



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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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