Outpourings of public grief and appreciation swept the globe on Thursday after the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Jobs, who touched the daily lives of countless millions of people through the Macintosh computer, iPod, iPhone died on Wednesday at age 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He stepped down as Apple chief executive in August.
Reaction in the stock market was muted as Apple shares quickly recovered from an initial 1.5 percent decline. The shares were up 1 percent to $382.15 at midday.
In New York City, an impromptu memorial made from flowers, candles and a dozen green and red apples was erected outside a 24-hour Apple store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, with fans snapping photos of it on their iPhones. “It was really sad news for us,” said Daiichiro Tashiro, 25, visiting from Tokyo. “A lot of Japanese use the iPhone. We’re here to thank him.” Tributes poured in both from ordinary people and from the pinnacles of the business and political worlds. “He’s the hero to everybody of this generation because he did something that I think is very hard, which is be both a dreamer and a doer,” General Electric Co CEO Jeff Immelt told reporters in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday.
“I wouldn’t be able to run my business without Apple, without its software,” said David Chiverton, who was leaving Apple’s flagship Regent Street store in London. “I run a video production company. It’s allowed me to have my dream business.”
News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch said, “Steve Jobs was simply the greatest CEO of his generation.” At an Apple store in Sydney, lawyer George Raptis, who was five years old when he first used a Macintosh computer, spoke for almost everyone who has come into contact with Apple. “He’s changed the face of computing,” he said. “There will only ever be one Steve Jobs.” U.S. President Barack Obama remembered Jobs as a visionary. “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators — brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it,” Obama said in a statement.
Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who once triumphed over Jobs but saw his legendary status overtaken by the Apple co-founder in recent years, said, “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor.” Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, whose company competes with Apple’s iPhone in the handset market, said, “The world lost a true visionary today. Steve’s passion for simplicity and elegance leaves us all a legacy that will endure for generations.” When he stepped down as CEO in August, Jobs handed the reins to long-time operations chief Tim Cook. With a passion for minimalist design and a genius for marketing, Jobs laid the groundwork for the company to continue to flourish after his death, most analysts and investors say.
But Apple still faces challenges in the absence of the man who was its chief product designer, marketing guru and salesman nonpareil. Phones running Google’s Android software are gaining share in the smartphone market, and there are questions about what Apple’s next big product will be.
A college drop-out and the son of adoptive parents, Jobs changed the technology world in the late 1970s, when the Apple II became the first personal computer to gain a wide following. He did it again in 1984 with the Macintosh, which built on breakthrough technologies developed at Xerox Parc and elsewhere to create the personal computing experience as we know it today.
The rebel streak that was central to his persona got him tossed out of Apple in 1985, but he returned in 1997 and after a few years began the roll-out of a troika of products — the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad — that again upended the established order in major industries.
A diagnosis of a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004 initially cast only a mild shadow over Jobs and Apple, with the CEO asserting that the disease was treatable. But his health deteriorated rapidly over the past several years, and after two temporary leaves of absence he stepped down as CEO and became Apple’s chairman in August.
Jobs’s death came just one day after Cook presented a new iPhone at the kind of gala event that became Jobs’s trademark. Perhaps coincidentally, the new device got lukewarm reviews, with many saying it wasn’t a big enough improvement over the existing version of one of the most successful consumer products in history.