What Now? A Post Steve Jobs World

It was a casual Wednesday night when I had first heard the news via Facebook: “A visionary died today. Steve Jobs, you will always be in my heart forever. Thank you for creating the iPhone; I love it!” Just like millions of people around the world, I was utterly shocked. The feeling of being part of the generation that witnessed the passing of such a monumental figure was overwhelming. Needless to say, I too posted a status lamenting the death of Steve Jobs. Soon afterwards, my entire Newsfeed page was inundated with similar status posts.

October 5th marked a historic day for many around the globe with the death of Steve Jobs. From the computer techies in the heart of the Silicon Valley to the trendy young folks in Shanghai, this news came with a heavy dose of sadness and astonishment.

Having served as the pioneer in leading the technological innovation for much of Apple’s history, Jobs garnered an international influence matched only by a few in the world. The Facebook status frenzy was yet only one out of the many testaments to his legacy. Although many would view his death as an inevitable end to a long phase in history, at the same time it marked the commencement of a new journey to the next generation.

Nevertheless, the question still remains – now what? We all knew that Jobs was nearing his time, but now Apple’s future hangs in the balance. The company seems to be taking a rather conservative approach in adhering to the core foundations that Jobs had envisioned. Timothy Cook, Jobs’ protégé and the current CEO of Apple, sent out a letter en masse to the Apple employees in late August, wherein he assured them that, “Apple is not going to change… Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world, and we are going to stay true to that.”

At the same time, there are others who feel that what Apple needs most in this post-Jobs era is an original Tim Cook method of corporate management. “Apple can’t fall into that,” said David Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It’s not, ‘What would Steve have done?’ That’s a recipe for problems.”

Regardless of the extent to how much Apple “changes,” one thing seems for certain. Jobs’ sheer physical absence may dampen the enthusiasm associated with purchasing the newest line of Apple’s products. I have even met people whose primary interest in purchasing Apple goods stemmed from having the assurance that the product was a physical realization of Steve Jobs’ imagination.

Apple is not merely a company established by Jobs; it also is the manifestation of his imagination for the future, a corporate embodiment of his creative genius. California’s government provided a clear manifestation of the people’s idolization of Jobs when Governor Jerry Brown officially declared October 16th “Steve Jobs Day.”

Jobs also had a tremendous impact on Apple’s stock prices. On January 17th, the last leave of absence that Apple’s board of directors granted for Jobs, Apple’s stock dipped 6.2%.# Furthermore, when Jobs announced his resignation, the stock prices faced another downward dip of 5.2% – from the time of his announcement to the closing of the stock markets for the day in New York City.

Now all of this information seems to boil down to one conclusion: Steve Jobs is literally the ‘Big Apple’ of Apple.

Without him, Apple will never be the same. Jobs’ death seems to closely parallel the death of another American iconic leader: Walt Disney. Unfortunately for the company, however, years of stagnation followed after Disney’s death due to ineffective management that was, in part, generated from the dependence on the firm leadership that Disney had provided. Hopefully, Cook will be able to learn from the lessons of Disney and develop his own legacy as Apple’s new CEO.

On a new note the iPhone 4S, the last Apple product to be built around Jobs’ vision, met with record-breaking sales, marking more than one million sales in the first 24 hours of pre-orders.

Jobs has left a legacy of success that persists to this day. I hope that this success will continue and, for all those in the world who have enjoyed his innovation, may Steve Jobs rest in peace.