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Steve Jobs' Clear-Eyed View of the Future

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Oct 7, 2011 5:00 AM PT

Though Steve Jobs has passed away, we'll see for years to come his influence on the many things he touched during his lifetime, from the company he cofounded to the industry his ideas dominated.

Steve Jobs' Clear-Eyed View of the Future

"You're going to have devices 20, 30 years from now that still bear the influence of the seminal vision that he had," Laura DiDio, the principal analyst with Information Technology Intelligence (ITIC), told MacNewsWorld.

Certainly the engine that will drive his vision into the future will be Apple, the company he cofounded and took from the brink of extinction to be one of the most valuable properties in the world.

For years to come, the company will be influenced by the organizational structure he left behind.

"His legacy at Apple is the management team he put in place to continue to run the company and make it thrive even without him at the helm," Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with the Gartner Group, told MacNewsWorld.

No Chopped Liver

That team will continue to be influenced by one of Jobs' obsessions: quality.

"Jobs is going to be remembered for one of the most unerring eyes for product quality that we've seen in the history of the personal computing business," Charles King, principal at Pund-IT, told MacNewsWorld.

The marriage Jobs created between quality and Apple is one that's likely to continue. "It will have to if the company is to continue to succeed as it has in the past," King predicted.

The spirit of Jobs will continue at Apple in another way -- the way the company approaches risk.

"It will continue in the tradition of Steve Jobs and be creative risk-takers," predicted ITIC's DiDio, who has been following Apple as a journalist and analyst since 1984.

"Jobs is a hard act to follow, but when you study under a master, as the members of the Apple team have, some of that has to rub off on you," she added. "You may not achieve the same level of recognition or the same level of success as the master, but you're not going to be chopped liver either."

Democratizing Technology

Jobs' influence will be felt beyond the walls of Apple, too. One of his greatest achievements and one that will be felt far into the future is how he severed the leash to technology gripped by the technologists.

"He democratized technology," Scott Testa, a business consultant, told MacNewsWorld.

"He took it out of the hands of technologists and made products that were beautiful," he said. "He didn't just sweat the technical details of a product, but the visual aspects, too."

Before Apple introduced the Macintosh, personal computer users were combination electronics geeks and hobbyists who liked writing computer code, King recalled. "For a guy like me who was more comfortable with a typewriter than he was with a soldering iron, the Mac was a godsend," he said.

"What Jobs and Steve Wozniak did during the early days of Apple effectively took technology out of the hands of technologists and put it into the hands of regular people," he added.

Pansy Computer

In addition to bringing technology to the people, he showed that it could be elegant. That, too, will be influencing industrial design as the years go by.

"He put design on the map for the entire planet because technology became the fabric of our world.," John Maeda, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, told MacNewsWorld. "He made it so design matters."

He recalled showing up with his Mac as a freshman in 1984 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Everyone had macho computers -- VT100 terminals or IBM PCs -- and they looked at me like I had some pansy computer," he remembered.

Steve Jobs showed us there was another way to approach technology, he explained. "There's a way to build an emotional connection to technology, a way that doesn't feel like something else, that makes it feel like something you want to be with," he said.

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