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Apple’s Steve Jobs passes away

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs, the man who led Apple to a phenomenal comeback from a near-death experience and went on to change the way consumers live, work and play, passed away Oct. 5 after a long spell of illness.

Mr. Jobs only two months ago relinquished the Apple CEO’s post to his protégé Tim Cook after admitting that he could no longer fulfill his duties. He suffered from pancreatic cancer and underwent surgery in 2004, followed in 2009 by a liver transplant.

Now the one man who single-handedly transformed the computing and mobile landscape is gone. The homepage of Apple’s Web site at was a stark and clean tribute to a man whose fetish for design and consumer-friendly devices was unparalleled among corporate leaders.

One of a kind
Mr. Jobs in March entered Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Hall of Fame for leading the way into the post-PC world with his iPhone, iPad and iPod devices, iAd mobile ad network and iTunes, iBooks, iAd network, and Apple App Store and retail stores.

The mobile industry’s – and Mobile Marketer’s – most prestigious honor was bestowed on Mr. Jobs for the mark he made on computing, communications, commerce, content, education, gaming and marketing through brilliant leadership, anticipation of customer needs, focus on detail, remarkable foresight, supreme confidence and dogged perseverance.

Where he reshaped computing with a focus on creative tools, Mr. Jobs was set on using mobile to redefine how consumers live, work and play.

“Mobile is key to the post-PC world,” Mr. Jobs told the audience March 2 when he unveiled the iPad 2 tablet at Apple’s Cupertino, CA-based headquarters.

“We’re in the position now where the majority of our revenue comes from post-PC products,” he said.

What made Mr. Jobs great and a natural entry into the pantheon of American pioneers who shaped the way consumers live, work and play? Here are some reasons why:

Focus: Mr. Jobs never took his eye off the ball. Once he set his sights on a product or service idea, he and his team pulled through right from conception to market launch. He was not easily distracted.

Quality control: A bigger fanatic there was not. Mr. Jobs was well-known for his insistence that everything be just right, from the look and feel to weight to customer experience and product packaging.

The product had to meet the highest standards. See how lovingly the top brass at Apple describe each new product launched in videos on Imagine if all Apple rival products were given the same tender loving care.

Leading, not following: Indeed, Mr. Jobs was known for setting the agenda and standards, rather than reacting. In that approach, he shared something in common with auto pioneer Henry Ford, who is once known to have said, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.”

The fiesty Mr. Jobs, with his initial insistence on a $1 million minimum budget for ads running on Apple’s iAd mobile network, again set the bar high for mobile advertising. His chutzpah benefited an entire industry and arguably forced CEOs and chief marketing officers to treat mobile advertising with more respect.

Brilliant marketing and packaging: For a man who sounded as shrill as he did, it is remarkable how Mr. Jobs consistently developed marketing and packaging that created desire – no, lust – from near or far.

See the packaging for any iPad, iPhone or iPod or even the new MacBook Air. Even the boxes are pieces of art. And the print ads: the typography, spare imagery and use of white space pack a punch. The TV spots invariably capture slices of life at its best – enabled by the iPhone, iPad or iPod.

Master of the launch: It can seem devious to some, this drip-drip of news and tidbits seemingly leaked to Apple diehards and media, but there is no denying this: Apple was – and is – is the Master of the Launch and Mr. Jobs was the Grandmaster.

Just see the buildup to any new Apple product, the sense of anticipation, the creeping desire to buy or upgrade. And then the man in the black mock turtleneck and blue jeans walked in to helm what is known as a “special event” – and voila, it was Apple magic all over again. Time and time again, Mr. Jobs was the Houdini who unshackled convention with ease and to applause.

Add to that the obligatory videos on the Apple site introducing the new mobile or non-mobile product in the warmest – and most disarming – tones possible. It is marketing seduction at its best. See the March 2, 2011 video of Mr. Jobs introducing the iPad 2 at the Apple headquarters or the online demo for the same product.

Keep it simple, stupid: Mr. Jobs boiled everything down to its essence. One on-off button, one swipe, all touch screen. Apple mobile devices are plug and play. The instruction manual is a booklet questioning its presence.

Mr. Jobs understood consumer psychology like no other CEO in recent history. Consumers want to know how to turn the key in the car, not how the combustion engine works.

Chasing segments that matter: Mr. Jobs’ Apple was never about the mass play.

In catering to a certain upmarket, creative or tech-savvy segment, he also roped in the masses without seeming like catering to them. How else to explain the fat profit margins on each Apple mobile product – anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent – other than knowing which market has the most potential?

Not discounting more than necessary: To discount often is to devalue the brand. How often do consumers see discounts at Apple stores online, offline or on mobile? Mr. Jobs got that premium pricing required a certain dignity in the marketplace.

Retail store: Mr. Jobs was known to have taken a personal interest in the design of each Apple store. It is less a store and more a town square for Apple enthusiasts and those who want to buy in to the Apple dream and hang out. Each store is a case study in visual desire and customer service.

Evangelists, not salespersons: Under Mr. Jobs’ direction, Apple staff served more as evangelists and diehard users of the product rather than salespeople peddling product. They understand customer issues because they are customers themselves who have bought into the Apple myth – or reality, whichever way people might want to look at it.

Control the message: How often did consumers see Apple executives other than Mr. Jobs and his No. 2, Tim Cook, quoted in the media? Not too often, right? That was Mr. Jobs at work. Control the message before the message controls you.

The Apple organization’s discipline is legendary and what might seem inflexible to some is maintaining the brand’s essence at all times from concept to sales to others.

Redefining categories: Mr. Jobs will go down in history for redefining categories with hardware and software: the iPhone in phones, iPods in music, iPads in tablets, iTunes for music, iAds for mobile advertising, Apple App Store for apps and iBooks for books.

Through the use of technology, Mr. Jobs redefined music, entertainment, publishing, retail, education and gaming. In each case, he made products or services easier to consume.

Creating and controlling the ecosystem: If nothing else, Mr. Jobs had to be marveled at how he created and controlled all components of the ecosystem in which Apple operates: hardware, software, content, commerce, communications and marketing.

The Apple world is self-contained, allowing few outside variables to upset the cart other than a product like, say, Apple TV that bombed because it was neither fish nor fowl.

MR. JOBS’ LASTING legacy is how one man’s dogged attention to detail, sense of perfection and bet on mobile shaped and influenced hundreds of millions of lives at work, play and home.

Only 56 years old at his passing, Mr. Jobs will be missed by the millions of consumers who benefited from his genius, not least because he was the ultimate advocate of boiling down products, technology, marketing, communications and commerce to their very essence. Great Apple product, pity the battery life.

Please click here to down the video of the Stanford University commencement address given by Mr. Jobs in 2005.

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Mickey Alam Khan is editor in chief of Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer and Luxury Daily. Reach him at

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