Apple co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs, regarded as one of the most important American leaders of his generation, died on Wednesday at the age of 56, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer.
His death was announced late on Wednesday by Apple’s board, which said: “Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”
Thousands of Apple customers and fans of Mr Jobs posted heartfelt appreciations on social networking sites, and tributes poured in from former colleagues and former foes alike.
US president Barack Obama led the tributes. “By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity,” Mr Obama said.
The Silicon Valley icon built Apple into America’s biggest company by market capitalisation but resigned as chief executive in August, handing over to current chief executive Tim Cook, his longtime deputy.
Bob Iger, chief executive of Disney, where Mr Jobs was a director and the largest individual investor, said: “Steve was such an original, with a thoroughly creative, imaginative mind that defined an era.”
In an unparalleled career, Mr Jobs did more than anyone else in his lifetime to bring the wonders of personal computing and digital entertainment to ordinary people.
Though his name was on many Apple patents, he borrowed, bought or popularised other ideas closely associated with the company’s rollercoaster fortunes. He eschewed market research and served as a one-man focus group, lieutenants said.
He insisted on total control over Apple hardware and software – not as a designer himself but as a one-man focus group and fan, ordering products he wanted to use.
“He’s someone who had amazing taste and could get great work out of other people”, said biographer Leander Kahney, who edits Cultofmac.com
“The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come,” Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, said in a blog post. “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honour. I will miss Steve immensely.”
He learnt business tactics only because he had to. After Mr Jobs lost a power struggle and left Apple in the 1980s, the company floundered until it reached the brink of bankruptcy. His return in 1997 began a corporate comeback that accelerated with the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad, which was introduced last year but already brings in more revenue than the company’s Macs.
After permanently upsetting the balance of power in the music and phone industries, Apple’s tablets are dramatically shaking up the computer industry, where Mr Jobs began. The performance has made millionaires out of many Apple employees and even large ordinary shareholders, who briefly saw the company become the world’s most valuable earlier this year. In stock capitalisation, it is now behind only Exxon-Mobil.
（Source:FTchinese.com By Joseph Menn in San Francisco）