Despite the fact that he lived his life mostly in private, evidenced by the small number of photos of him on the internet, most Apple fans, employees and competitors felt they knew him enough to refer to him as Steve. Not Mr. Jobs, not “executive at Apple,” but Steve.
At IT World Canada, we’ve done our best to collect our own reflections on the work and legacy of Steve Jobs, but we also wanted to feature those of his peers in the tech industry and fans of Apple themselves.
Craig Mundie is the chief research and strategy officer for Apple’s main competition, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. In a talk for the University of Toronto’s information technology program on the future of technology at Microsoft, The New Era in Computing, Mundie addressed Jobs’ recent passing.
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“It’s incredibly important to realize that you can assemble technologies in interesting ways that produce a revolutionary effect. And we, all of us who get to work in these technology fields, have that gift in front of us, and it’s moments like this that you have to stop and reflect on that a little bit,” he said.
“I didn’t know him personally, not super well, and in fact the times I worked with him was actually in the interval when he had left Apple the first time and before he came back. But many of us know him and Bill Gates knew him for 30 years and had tremendous respect for Steve and what he accomplished.”
Joe Compeau, a lecturer in information systems at the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business, said Jobs’ ability to understand what users actually wanted without bombarding them with extra features will prove to be his legacy.
“He demonstrated how we can use digital content effectively,” he said. “He helped break from the idea that we still need a paper copy or a physical copy of something.”
Jobs wasn’t just a marketing genius either, Compeau said.
“He did one-to-one marketing before it was really popular. He understood that if users really liked the product, they would tell their friends,” he said.
“But I’ve always felt that if Apple was truly a ‘marketing company,’ you wouldn’t have seen people re-buy their products as often. (He wasn’t) trying to sell people something they didn’t want.”
Sherif Seta, IT director at Baxter Corp. in Mississauga, remembers Jobs as an innovator and an agent of change.
“Although I have not seen him live, I was quite saddened by his passing. I consider Jobs to be the father of innovation in IT. He single-handedly disrupted an industry that has fallen into complacency. He did to devices what Microsoft had done decades ago to applications: intuitive and ease of use in its simple complexity,” he said.
Anthony Kay, an Apple fan from Toronto who stopped to talk with fellow mourners and post a message on the glass at the front of the Eaton Centre Apple store, remembered Jobs as a man who took a very personal approach to business.
“It’s the end of an era, really. He was one of the few, long-time technology guys that really started a company and built something out of it. So many CEOs now just come and go from the companies. They don’t really have a vested interest in the success of the organization,” he said.
“The thing that really made Steve different was the fact that everything Apple did had his fingerprints on it, his touch.”
— With files from Shane Schick and Rafael Ruffolo