First, I want to say I am hopeful that Steve Jobs’ health is not deteriorating and that he is just stepping aside because it’s not improving fast enough. I’m optimistic that he still has great things to give to the world and perhaps today’s change will allow him to do that.
That said, today is a career milestone and it seems worth reflecting on. Thinking about what he’s done up until this point, he has certainly earned his place among the “crazy ones” of the Think Different commercials. As a Walt Disney fan, its hard not to make comparisons between the two. Disney was an artist who expanded into technology and architecture with Disneyland. Jobs is a technologist who expanded into art (both with Pixar and Apple’s media software) and architecture (via the Apple Store and the upcoming “spaceship”). The common thread in both men though is looking at a problem, in any discipline, and simply refusing to leave it unsolved. I imagine Jobs would approve of Disney’s quote “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible”.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to Jobs came this week in a patent infringement case between Apple and Samsung. In trying to demonstrate prior art for touchscreen tablet computing, Samsung submitted clips from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. It seemed to confirm that Jobs and Apple build the stuff of fantasy. I believe Steve Jobs’ fingerprint will still be seen on Apple for the next decade, but will anyone be able to look at the world and reject the status quo the way Jobs has?