Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs (Short Take)

Apple Inc
It's not hard to figure out what the obvious topic for today is. It's been interesting and occasionally encouraging to read the various news accounts about Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO of Apple. One I just read claims he worked a full day yesterday at Apple. That would be great if true because it would at the very least argue that he's not on deaths door as most people seem to be assuming after yesterdays announcement.

Still, most signs point to the fact that he is in fact human and that his health is not improving. I've admired his company and his effectiveness as a business leader for many years now. He's not perfect but he's done more than pretty much anyone else and he's managed to accomplish all that while doing less harm than most people who have amassed large sums of money have managed.

He hasn't always had the Midas touch though, at least over the short term. The NeXT computer was a brilliant product that never actually gained the kind of market share it needed for long term viability. The original units were shipped with a very cool but slow R/W optical drive only, no hard drive. This combination was revolutionary given the time but did not make a good impression from a performance or reliability perspective and that didn't help the viability of NeXT. Other than the original AppleTV it's hard for me to think of any other even partial failures since then though. Of course NeXT was eventually absorbed into Apple and a lot of that technical DNA survives today. The MacOS X OS was at its start a port of Next's operating system.

A lot of people have been writing eulogies to Jobs. I'm going to choose to believe that his story isn't done yet. He's apparently still heavily involved with Apple and he's still on the board at the Disney company. He may just surprise everyone and stick around long enough to add substantially to his legacy.

Image by Phil Bradley via Flickr
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