There’s no shortage of tributes being paid to former Apple boss Steve Jobs, who has died after a long and grueling battle with pancreatic cancer.
But Jobs’ greatest legacy will surely be the products he helped imagine and create, a series of technological advances that have shaped both technology and how we interact with it for decades.
Here we look at seven iconic and world-beating ideas that ensured Steve Jobs - along with his Apple colleagues and in particular British designer Jonathan Ive - went on to change the lives of millions.
The musical masterpiece that is the iPod was only launched 10 years ago but in that decade it has gone on to sell 300 MILLION units across the world. It continues to sell strongly with 45m iPods of varying forms sold in the year up until June. Half of these were to people buying their very first one, proving both its longevity and mass appeal. The original iPod Classic with its clicking wheel and just five or 10GB of storage marked the start of digital music going mainstream. Steve Jobs may have sounded the death knell for the CD, but music became more popular than ever as iPods got smaller with the mini, nano and shuffle and were then redefined with the touch. The devices stayed true to their simple but innovative design, accessibility and ease-of-use. These are three key foundations that Steve Jobs’ Apple reign was built on.
With the launch of the iPhone 4S this week, under new chief Tim Cook, Apple had already started down a new path without Steve Jobs. But when the original iPhone hit the streets in June 2007, everything in the mobile world changed. With each new model, Apple set new bars for its rivals to raise themselves to. From apps to quality to design to sheer excitement, it’s been hard to match. As the No1 smartphone in the world, it still only has a 5% share of all types of handsets worldwide – a fact that offers a wealth of growth potential. Steve Jobs may sadly not have lived to see an iPhone 5 but you can be sure when it does finally arrive, it’ll carry his thinking through every single millimetre.
The first iPad set the standard for tablet computers and it’s been a mountain to climb for Apple’s rivals to produce anything with as m uch mass appeal. You only have to look at the issues Motorola and BlackBerry have had. But while Android tablets do slightly better, the iPad continues to go from strength-to-strength. In its current iPad 2 guise with a speedy processor, cameras and slimline design, it’s being used in schools, colleges, hospitals and even on the flight deck of planes to replace some of the technology in the cockpit and make it easier for pilots to navigate. That breadth of appeal and far-reaching uses are testament to Apple and Steve Job’s vision of creating products that mean something different to millions.
Apps and iOS
Apps through the iPhone, iPod touch and the 140,000 available specifically for the iPad have changed the way people interact with software. Apps made new software cheaper, more intuitive and far easier to get hold of. A whopping 18 BILLION have been sold in the last three years and developers from those in the bedroom to the boardroom have made $3bn from this technological advance. Of course, apps are nothing new but with 250 million iOS units out there, Apple has provided huge scope for developers. They now have the same ability to do a Steve Jobs – and start out with a simple idea that could go on to change the world, whatever their background.
The first home computers
The initial Macintosh computers revolutionised the industry and are responsible for home computing as we know it now. Steve Jobs worked on the original Lisa machine back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a computer that paved the way for graphical interfaces on our screens. Jobs then worked on the team producing the Macintosh and realised its potential was far greater than Lisa. Desktops today owe much to the work Steve Jobs did 30 years ago. If it wasn’t for the success of those Mac machines, maybe we’d never have seen a Windows PC. It grew out of their rivalry and eventually surpassed the Mac platform for sales and becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
Mac design and functionality
From the colourful CRT iMac to the latest ultra-slim MacBook Air, Apple has always innovated where personal computing is concerned. The products may cost a premium compared with Windows rivals and it’s true they have sold far less - but their desirability and intuitive features have always ensured a loyal and growing fanbase. No longer the preserve of designers and creative industry businesses, Macs have led the way in design from the all-in-one desktop to the unibody MacBook. Apple has continued to innovate on the software front too, as well as with its hardware. Cheap new operating systems compared to expensive Windows upgrades brought new features without any pain and the recent launch of its Lion OS as a download was a huge success with six million copies installed over the internet.
One More Thing… marketing!
It’s fair to say that as well as being responsible for great products, Steve Jobs presided over an Apple that wasn’t shy in creating a huge marketing mystique around its line-up. From the glitzy press conferences with pop stars playing to Jobs’ One More Thing surprise at the end to keep journalists and fans guessing and hanging on, Steve Jobs certainly knew a thing or two about creating a buzz. But if you strip away all the gloss, all the razzmatazz, all the rumour and all the Apple fanboys and haters, that isn’t what made Steve Jobs so successful. His passion, vision and love for technology and the way it can improve everyone’s lives was responsible for a series of products that just work. Like any great inventor and innovator, only he could imagine, or redefine, the sort of features millions of us now can’t live without.