When Steve Jobs left his post as CEO of Apple just a few weeks ago, we wrote a story considering that it might not be any single device, but the ubiquity of apps and their incredible power, that might be Jobs’ greatest legacy.
“Greatest” is a relative term when it comes to a man like Jobs, however. The guy has a lot of legacies. And though he died peacefully in his home at the age of 56 this week, his vision has helped reshape the world we live in from a variety of standpoints. In many ways, his work with Apple has helped bring the world toward a future that formerly had only been envisioned in science fiction. His work and his views of technology have fundamentally altered the way technology works in the world today. He and Apple are the reasons you can carry around a computer in your pocket that can tell you the weather, guide you where to go, keep you entertained and help you connect with your friends and family in a thousand different ways in an instant.
Today, Sprint, the latest carrier to pick up the iPhone, started offering pre-orders on the iPhone 4, according to a report from TechCrunch. From a business standpoint, that means that a segment of customers who have been hoping to buy what some might cynically consider a flashy new toy, finally have the ability to do so. If you want to take a slightly more sentimental view, however: people who have never been able to can now experience Jobs’ vision of “magic” technology.
And there’s a reason that the iPhone is held in such high esteem by so many users, and that Apple, its products, and its former founder and CEO are revered by a large, slightly fanatical segment of its customers. The iPhone is a little slice of the future. While it may be a toy in that it plays games and can do other goofy things like, for example, replicate a whoopee cushion on command, it’s also a device that has the power to improve communication between people, provide aid when it’s needed, facilitate learning, send gifts – it can help make people’s lives better, at least in some ways.
Apps are an incredible tool and the fact that they’re so popular, so numerous and so innovative is a great thing. Jobs helped create a world not of large, complex software programs, but of tiny, super-useful ones, some of which are absolutely mind-blowing.
But on second thoughts, his greatest legacy isn’t the technology he helped create, but the very fact that he helped popularize technology. The ability to navigate the world rests in your pocket on any given day, along with the power to contact nearly anyone, learn the news nearly instantly, and interact with your world wherever you are.
What’s more, he’s created a culture of these possibilities. Apple isn’t the only company making smartphones or tablets anymore. We’ve entered a world that Jobs helped show was possible; his views of technology will undoubtedly lead to further innovations that will further change lives. Job’s vision of technology usable by anyone, that’s simple and powerful – and that changes lives – will, undoubtedly, further shape the world long after him.