Steve Jobs' "insanely great" passion leaves a legacy of innovation
Last night I was up late, watching as Twitter lit up with the news of Steve Jobs' resignation. I spent hours reading countless reports about his life and legacy. Apple products have been a huge part of my life for the last 20 years and for most of that, Jobs was the driving force behind the innovation for which Apple is known. Even if you don't use Apple products it's easy to see the influence Apple and Jobs have had on society, especially in the last 10 years, and it's hard to imagine the personal technology landscape without him.
This has been coming for a long time and it's been no secret that Jobs has been struggling with various health issues since surviving a bout with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and more recently, a liver transplant in 2009. He has looked thin and gaunt in a number of public appearances over the last few years. Despite taking a medical leave in January of this year, he appeared at the iPad 2 launch in March and at the Worldwide Developers Conference for the iOS 5 and iCloud announcement in June.
Jobs gave the commencement address at Stanford University in 2005, shortly after being treated for pancreatic cancer. In the address he has some very frank words on his feelings about death, saying "death is very likely the single best invention of life." His closing message for the students was "stay hungry, stay foolish."
Of course Apple's stock plummeted after the announcement and immediately people began wondering if Apple could continue to innovate and thrive without Jobs at the helm. The answer is, yes. This is not happening without a solid plan and a belief that Apple will continue to create the "insanely great" products to which Jobs has dedicated his life. This line from Jobs' letter to the board of directors makes it clear that this move was in the works for a long time:
"As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple." ~ Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in a letter to the Board of Directors
Today, Tim Cook already is fast at work, reassuring Apple employees that it's business as usual. An internal email to Apple employees was leaked to Ars Technica this morning and in it, Cook had this to say:
"I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple's unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do." ~ New Apple CEO Tim Cook, to employees
As for Jobs he will remain as Chairman and undoubtedly will continue to have a major influence on Apple's products, at least for now. There's no telling how ill he is but if his situation is grave, I hope he spends the time with his family and truly passes the baton to Cook. That may be a difficult for a man who thrives on constant innovation the way fighter pilots thrive on adrenalin.
At the Macworld Expo in 2007, Jobs compared himself to hockey great Wayne Gretzky by sharing a Gretzky quote:
"There's an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. 'I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.' And we've always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will." ~ Steve Jobs
Like Gretzky, Jobs now can skate away knowing his passion and love for what he did changed the game forever. For that, I will be forever grateful.