Steve Jobs

06Oct11

Like many people, I was sad but not surprised to hear that Steve Jobs had died. I feel very sorry for his family. Yesterday I was planning to write a posting about Apple’s latest iPhone announcement. I was planning to say that if Apple’s new Siri voice recognition software was as good as it appears, we were on the verge of a new leap forward in how machines can impact our lives.

It would be just another in a whole series of leaps that have been prompted by Apple under the leadership of Steve Jobs. Just like the leap that made windows and a mouse the obvious and universal way to control a PC and the leap that made personal music collections completely portable and available and the leap that made the mobile phone into an information hub in your pocket and the leap that opened a new market to tens of thousands of application developers who had previously never been able to reach a market and the leap that put the personal computer, the whole internet and hundreds of publications into a flat screen no thicker than a pencil that you can carry everywhere.

Now that Steve Jobs is gone some of us wonder if Apple will be able to leap any more. It will be great if his inspiration and vision have permeated the company he built to an extent sufficient to continue the momentum. But I am pessimistic. It takes rare charisma and determination for an individual to move a company with such clarity of purpose. Corporate history is littered with once-great businesses which have slowly lost their way after a passionate individual has gone. The culture and energy of an organisation flows from strongly held beliefs, heartfelt communication and consistent behaviours at the very top. These can not be replaced by rhetoric and command.



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