We are all tech geeks now. And it’s because of Steve Jobs.
He freed technology from the business realm and made it a consumer passion. Now millions worldwide lust after the latest iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac computer. Nearly bankrupt 15 years ago when Mr. Jobs took over, Apple is now just behind Exxon as the world’s most valuable company.
It is not an exaggeration to state that Mr. Jobs transformed how we consume information. Music, news, videos, the web and other forms of entertainment are increasingly downloaded or streamed to Apple devices. Tuesday’s launch of the iPhone 4S was a major news event covered by the mainstream press – not just by gadget junkies.
When the iPhone launched in 2007, it was seen as a niche device. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer openly mocked it in a famous YouTube clip. Apple even dropped the price not long after launch as a way to spur sales. Hardcore fans of BlackBerry and Palm devices swore they would never leave their phones for something that seemed like a toy.
It’s only four years later and Apple is the nation’s most valuable technology company. Nearly all smartphones and tablets resemble the iPhone and iPad. More and more Windows laptops share design elements of MacBooks.
I am a perfect example of someone who was pulled into the Apple fold through the iPhone’s halo effect. After owning a number of iPods, the iPhone appealed to me through its ability to get online and contain all my music in one device. The iPad has the same appeal, replacing reading on a desktop or laptop with the comfort of an iPad.
Once the App Store launched there would be no cure for the addiction of apps. Like so many Apple products the iPhone combined with the App Store appealed to both tech geeks and regular consumers. It is the very reason our site exists; the proliferation of mobile apps, especially in Apple’s ecosystem, have an impact in how we interact with knowledge and the way we live our lives.
One irony in Wednesday’s events was that I was informed of Mr. Jobs’ passing by a push alert on my iPhone. As President Obama eluded to in his statement yesterday, it is a tribute to his legacy that so many of us found out about his death on devices that he invented.