Apple’s Steve Jobs Passes Away

Discussion
Oct 06, 2011
George Anderson

A little over two months since stepping down as CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs has died at the age of 56.

The company’s website included this message: "Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple."

Mr. Jobs was also known, as The Wall Street Journal put it, for "his mercurial management style, such as his habit of calling employees or their ideas ‘dumb’ when he didn’t like something."

A Washington Post article touched on Mr. Jobs’ salesmanship. It referred to a Business 2.0 article that described him as "easily the greatest marketer since P.T. Barnum."

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, wrote on his page, "Thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world." As of 6:44 a.m ET this morning, 273,522 people had "liked" this message.

Discussion Questions: What are your thoughts on Steve Jobs’ career? What are the most important management lessons to be learned it? How has retail benefited from his innovations?

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22 Comments on "Apple’s Steve Jobs Passes Away"


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Fabien Tiburce
Guest
Fabien Tiburce
9 years 7 months ago

I watched Mr. Jobs’ Stanford address, which I highly recommend. It’s 15 minutes long and worth every second. As to Mr. Jobs’ career? CEO of the world’s largest company, one of the biggest come-backs in corporate history and CEO of Pixar. The man is in a different class of inspirational gifted geniuses. I am a long-time supporter of open-source software, a galaxy far, far away from Apple’s walled garden but I am forever grateful and pay my deepest respect to Mr. Jobs for his contribution to computing.

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

As I mentioned in August, Steve Jobs brought an uncanny taste level and design skill to his company’s product development — along with remarkable brand-building ability. It’s an almost unique combination in the business world, so it’s hard to replicate as a management lesson. The biggest “lesson learned” lies in Apple’s future: How did Mr. Jobs develop a succession plan and a team that will allow the company to thrive in the absence of his talent and personality?

Surprisingly, retailing has not benefited as much as you might expect, because most retailers have not fully embraced the model of the Apple Store:
1. Keep the assortment simple, focused and appealing;
2. Use technology to make the store more efficient;
3. Make the store design and associate skill set part of the overall branding message.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
9 years 7 months ago

I really like the PT Barnum comparison. Aside from being a technology innovator, Steve Jobs was a master marketer who set standards in our industry in terms of product packaging, outward marketing and store level service. While his management style may not be the most popular, he ultimately got the job done and those lucky enough to work with him would have had no problem looking beyond his attacks and comments. Steve Jobs will be missed and I sincerely hope Apple can continue along the path that he has created for them. I would have no issues with calling Steve Jobs a pop icon instead of a technology executive.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

iMourn.

The lesson is that genius comes too rarely and never stays long enough.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Steve Jobs faced many challenges early in his life. Most of them would have stopped lesser men. But he was persistent. He had a dream, a vision, a thought on how the future would look. Today we mourn his passing for many reasons. One is the sadness we feel for losing someone of his stature at such an early age. He had more to teach us, more to bring to us, more to challenge us with.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, we are writing words on an electronic keyboard that thousands if not millions will read. Thanks to Steve Jobs we carry technology in our pockets or briefcases that connect us to the world. Thanks to Steve Jobs information, any information we want or need, is at our fingertips daily.

We will miss him and pray for his family and soul. Maybe another step will be taken to cure cancer because of Steve Jobs.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
9 years 7 months ago

First, I agree with the sentiment “iSad.” The world has indeed lost something unique, something that has changed the way we interact with each other. And I do think his impact on retail has only just begun, as alumni from the Apple retail vision begin making their mark on other retailers.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 7 months ago
Steve Jobs innovations changed the way we work, play, and ultimately, think. We are just seeing the beginnings of how the iPad will change the in-store experience (for the better), and we’ve already seen how the iPhone has changed our shopping habits (for some retailers, not so good!). I think the most important lesson to be learned is that DESIGN MATTERS. We all focus on price as a lever, but in fact, well-designed products sell, and can be transformational. Think about the “tablet PC.” PC-based vendors tried to crack the code of the tablet PC for years. It was Jobs who recognized that no one writes anymore…stop worrying about handwriting recognition and move from keyboard, ultimately to voice recognition. The management lesson is unclear. Singularities like Mr. Jobs don’t come along often. In my own career, however, I’ve really come to appreciate how important it is to BE AUTHENTIC. My managers used to exhort me to be more “like everyone else.” I now am a partner in my own company, and much of our success… Read more »
Anne Howe
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

His innovations set a new bar for the retail experience. Never have I seen a retail establishment have the consistent kind of traffic, helpful associates, and customer service support that Apple stores have. The lesson learned here is to surprise and delight the shoppers in all areas — product, service and support. Easy to say, but hard to do. Apple, under the guidance of Steve Jobs, not only raised the bar, but also continues to deliver above and beyond.

I hope this culture Steve developed over the last five or six years, which many are saying is reflective of his awareness of mortality, can live on as a tribute and a driver of success for Apple in the future, especially in the retail environment.

David Dorf
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

I’ve read lots of books on Apple and from what I’ve learned, I don’t think Steve was a particularly good manager or even leader. What made him special was his unique ability to infuse electronics with art, taking user experience to new levels. The other impressive thing was his perseverance — he created three companies, each of which floundered and were on the brink of failure, yet they went on to profoundly impact the world in different ways. RIP.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
9 years 7 months ago

Steve Jobs’ unwavering commitment to elegance, simplicity, and usability have fundamentally and forever changed the way we interact with technology. He was the ultimate example of an opinionated designer; he decided what he wanted the consumer experience to be, and he refused to compromise on that vision.

In the world of grocery, there is a clear parallel when you look at the most successful retailers. They each have a clear, opinionated vision about what they want to be to their consumers, and they have carved out a differentiated market position as a result. Whole Foods is about natural, fresh, and organic. Trader Joe’s is about friendly, curated, delightful value. Costco is about volume purchases, value, and the “treasure hunt.” Walmart is about the lowest prices. Wegmans is about reverence for food. Kroger is about rewarding its best customers.

All retailers have something to learn from Steve Jobs. If you are a retailer (or, frankly, in any business), ask yourself: what is *my* business about to my consumers?

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Steve Jobs was a true visionary. And like most visionaries, he had his fair share of rough edges. His legacy is how he changed personal computing, how we listen to music, and the devices we embrace in our lives.

Jobs had an amazing eye for detail and was not satisfied until his expectations were met — both lessons that retailers could benefit from. Walt Mossberg wrote that Jobs personally selected the wood and glass for the first Apple store.

Jobs vision and Apple’s incredible design team drove millions of consumers to retail. The Apple products that retailers sell are not low priced. Frequently they command some of the highest prices in each category, proving that consumer value can be measured by more than price.

He will be missed.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 7 months ago

Steve Jobs was a truly unique individual and it is our great fortune to have been witness to the amazing changes he brought to how we think about computers and software. What he taught all of us, including retailers, is that if you view the total experience and not just the product and if you bring fun and enjoyment to that experience, you will be successful, in his case spectacularly so. The world is a lot less interesting with his passing.

Hayes Minor
Guest
Hayes Minor
9 years 7 months ago

Throughout my career, I have never worked with a brand that hasn’t been inspired by Apple and continually striving to become as iconic. Steve Jobs was not only purposeful in his development of the Apple brand but was a true gatekeeper of its growth. From Apple’s retail space, to the genius bar, to the training materials for every employee to the products themselves, I find clients are most inspired by his ability to ensure that every inch of that brand is on equity and stays true to Steve’s vision. It may have taken blood, sweat and tears on a daily basis, but the Apple brand from end to end is seamless. Kudos to Steve. He serves as an inspiration to us all in marketing.

Jesse Rooney
Guest
Jesse Rooney
9 years 7 months ago

Yes, he was a terrific innovator and good manager, but he also canned Apple’s charity programs and would routinely park his car in handicapped spots. Not every aspect of the man is worth celebrating.

David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

There will be so many things written and said by everyone and their brother in the national media. However, I think it comes down to this: My life is much better because Steve Jobs was on this planet. My country is better because Steve was the most important entrepreneur and inventor this nation has had for a very long time. And my industry, retail and consumer products is much stronger because of what Steve Jobs enabled us to “sell.”

George Whalin
Guest
George Whalin
9 years 7 months ago

With Steve Jobs passing, I’m reminded of the saying “Tight ships don’t sink.” He certainly ran a tight ship with an absolute total commitment to making products that customers love; marketing them as well as anyone ever has and running stores unlike any other retailer in the world.

After being in business for ten years it looks like a few other retailers are finally learning the Apple lesson. As for my personal thoughts on Steve Jobs, I love all of my Apple products including my iPod, my iPad and my MacBook Pro.

Lee Peterson
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

To me, the Apple stores are one of his most impressive creations. Showing an industry how to create a very simple environment that produces over 100x the average industry $ per square foot is unprecedented work. Hopefully, new leadership will be able to carry on, but you have to wonder. He will truly be missed.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
9 years 7 months ago
The word ‘genius’ is pretty freely bandied about these days, but Steve Jobs was a genius. He was to his era what Thomas Edison was to his, perhaps more. He is being described, upon his death, as a visionary. He was all of that. When I think of his impact on retailing, two things come to mind. First, retailing at its foundations is all about compelling products that people want and need. Steve Job’s vision, his genius, was in conceiving of and creating those products. The power of Apple as a retailer is the power of the products that Steve Jobs created. There’s a lot of noise, a lot of smoke and mirrors that surrounds retailing. Steve Jobs stripped retailing back to its essence, the products themselves, and in the process created perhaps the very best retailer in existence today. Second, and perhaps more profoundly, for a techie, for a product development guy, Steve Jobs had an uncanny ability to think beyond technology, beyond products, to consumers themselves, and anticipate how his technology could be… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 7 months ago

Yesterday, I looked at a number of Jobs related YouTube videos, and a statement he makes on one of them stands out (certainly within the context of RW), to the effect that Apple’s success was due to finding out what the customer wanted, not simply having a product — however great — and trying to “sell it” (i.e. force it on people). Exactly how true this was with regard to Apple I don’t know, since the video pointed out that they had a number of innovative products that never caught on, but certainly the thought is noteworthy.

As for Jobs’ life in general, it’s problematic: these comeback kid and man-against-the-(foolish)-world stories are always great when they involve someone who truly IS right, and when perseverance pays off, but history, of course, is riddled with the bodies of dumb ideas and people who couldn’t take the hint after a thousand “no”s. It’s nice to be a genius, I guess.

Paul Flanigan
Guest
Paul Flanigan
9 years 7 months ago

What I take away from Steve Jobs is his absolutely relentless pursuit of excellence. He never gave up, he never let anyone get in his way, and it paid off for him, for his company, and for the millions of loyal fans and evangelists.

The guy just never quit. That’s awesome.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
9 years 7 months ago

Dream, Disrupt, Design and Delight.

James Tenser
Guest
9 years 7 months ago
I believe comparing the late Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison is not too big a reach. His product innovations helped to alter the experience of people’s lives at a scale that may rival the phonograph and the electric light. And Jobs’ portfolio of successes — spanning media, hardware, design and retail — ranks up there as well. Remember, Edison didn’t just invent the incandescent bulb — he also needed to invent the electric utility to make it work. Jobs didn’t just invent the iPod and iPhone — he also needed to invent iTunes and the App store to make them work. That’s the definition of big thinking — at the ecosystem level. I admire Jobs for that, although I confess I don’t think I liked his personality very much. His autocratic style and public persona grated on me. Edison reputedly possessed some similar traits — relentless drive and media showmanship. He located his first “invention factory” in Menlo Park, NJ, while Jobs located Apple in Cupertino, a few miles south of Menlo Park, CA. Not… Read more »
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