With this week’s passing of Steve Jobs, a lot of people on the Internet are devoting time to remembering the life of the Apple co-founder. And with good reason, as the man has been compared to a modern-day Thomas Edison or Henry Ford due to his unparalleled success in making Apple the world’s largest corporation. Steve Jobs will be almost impossible to replace, not because there aren’t people as creative as he was, or as good a leader as he was, or as talented at marketing as he was, but that there is currently no one who is as successful at all three as he managed to be.
It’s rare for any company to lay claim a product that has completely altered the dynamics of an entire industry, but Apple can. In fact, they have legitimate claims to having done it a handful of times in just the last few years. The iPod. The iPhone. The iPad. Each of these products revolutionized and dominated their respective niches because they, essentially, originated them. There may have been MP3 players, smart phones and tablets before Apple’s versions of all three, but following each of their launch, they were each the templates for those lines of products. And all three were the brainchildren of Steve Jobs. All three sprang from Steve Jobs’ imagination, and add to that Apple’s emerging domination of the ultra book line of laptops with the MacBook Air and Apple has a commanding domination of at least four distinctive markets. None of that would have ever happened without Steve Jobs.
Beyond Jobs’ creativity, he also happened to be an inspired leader. There are very few CEOs in today’s world that command the respect and loyalty that Apple’s employees had for Steve Jobs. And with good reason: Steve Jobs essentially devoted his entire working life towards the success of the Apple brand, all the more remarkable considering his very public and hugely humiliating ouster from the company in the late 80s. Jobs had been sick of pancreatic cancer for the last seven years, but he never stopped working until the last weeks of his life. It’s fitting that the company’s newest iPhone, the iPhone 4S was launched only a day before Jobs passed away. A company man to the end, Jobs likely held on just long enough to make sure he could see one last launch come to completion.
But the one thing that Apple will be hard-pressed to ever replicate in a replacement for Steve Jobs was his singular talent at marketing. Every major product launch from Apple for the last decade was personally launched by Jobs himself. His presentations would become the thing of legend. His “one more thing” was so famous, it’s just become expected every time Apple launches a product. Steve Jobs’ hand-picked replacement Tim Cook handled the iPhone 4S launch acceptably, but he wasn’t quite up to completely filling Jobs’ shoes. But to be completely fair, who could be? Jobs had a presence no one could ever really replicate. He was, essentially, a nerd rock star.
Many people are now rightly concerned about where Apple goes from here without the man who essentially became their brand. In the end, Jobs was just one man. There’s no shortage of capable, intelligent, talented people still working at Apple who are more than up to the task at keeping Apple on their course. But Steve Jobs was a one-of-a-kind. There will never again be anyone like Steve Jobs, and that’s exactly the problem that Apple faces now going forward. How do your replace the unreplacable? Time will tell.
Erik Hagen is a writer for KK BOLD. He wrote this on a Mac.