The Brilliance of Steve Jobs: A Tribute

Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, touched the lives of consumers and marketers alike through his words, products, and style. The death of Jobs, 56, prompted marketers to reflect on the man who inspired them and in some cases, shaped their careers.

Marketers take different views on Jobs’ single most important innovation. ComScore’s Joe Nguyen, for instance, said it was OS9, OSX, and iOS. “The operating systems are all about usability and how to make computers more accessible to everyday folks. ‘It just works,'” he said. For Darren Yan, the most significant contribution was the iPhone. “Steve extended the usability of the tool by making it easier to access the Internet, turned GPS coordinates into a tool used by runners to track how far they ran, and removed the fixed physical keyboard from the phone to give gamers a wide-screen experience. Clearly, Steve Jobs does not see the tool as a phone,” Yan said.

steve-jobs-apple-2011Marketers do agree on one thing: Jobs infused technology with creativity and for many, that had a major influence on their career path. “Steve Jobs inspired me to become an entrepreneur. I was in college when the first Mac came out, and we all bought one. We were thrilled with the graphical user interface; software on this machine could be fun and cool!” said DataXu’s Mike Baker. “His biggest impact on me has little to do with the things he made and much to do with the person he was. Yes, I work in the corporate world but it is a world that Jobs built. It’s a world where you can work but also be clever and creative and passionate,” said iCrossing’s Gary Stein.

Here are tributes to Steve Jobs shared by digital marketing practitioners who are contributors to ClickZ, ClickZ.Asia, and Search Engine Watch:

Think Different

Steve was one of the greatest innovators of this, or any other, time. His “Think Different” campaign summed up his philosophy in two words. He simply understood and solved problems in ways no one else could. Through his pioneering work and vision, Apple not only competes in most major consumer technology spaces, they created many of them. Steve’s focus on user-experience and design aesthetics is certainly a major influence in my life and work, as it should be for anyone who runs a user-centric strategy and design agency. He was uncompromising in his search for the perfect balance between user experience, complex functionality, simplicity, and aesthetics. When he found that balance, which was often, he rendered all other competing products irrelevant and obsolete. His guiding light will be sorely missed, though his influence will be felt for many generations to come. – Jack Aaronson, Aaronson Group

Integrating Tech With the Human Experience

Great communicators from Shakespeare to Steve Jobs don’t generally tell us anything new but rather they discover meaningful ways to remind us of truths we already know. Among the things that made Steve Jobs brilliant was his ability to integrate technology with the human experience. Our world will be a better place if Steve Jobs inspires future technologists that art, style, and emotion can drive successful consumer technologies.

From a marketing perspective his legacy serves as a reminder that marketers cannot simply sell technical features and benefits but rather we can and must convey an emotional benefit to our consumers. Marketers who deliver simplicity and consistency in their relationship with customers honor the legacy of Steve Jobs. – Gavin Ballas, Integrated Media Solutions

Influencing Careers

Steve Jobs inspired me to become an entrepreneur. I was in college when the first Mac came out, and we all bought one. We were thrilled with the graphical user interface; software on this machine could be fun and cool!

My friends started building a software company (Clearview Software) that Apple acquired soon after their graduation. My first job after college was selling Apple computers; they were easy to sell, even back then.

Today my household has seven different Apple devices, used by a family spanning ages 10-47, and they help us do everything from running a company, to making a mockumentary about Thanksgiving, to keeping our crazy calendars going. My kids were pretty stunned by his death – so he really stands for something special not just for me but also for their generation. – Mike Baker, DataXu

Abolishing High-Tech Elitism

What I’ll always appreciate about Steve Jobs is how he managed to do away with the link between high technology and elitism. It used to be that whenever you saw someone with a slick gadget in their hands, you’d figure they shelled out a ton of cash for it. But with the launch and brilliant management of a wide variety of Apple products, most notably the iPod and iPhone, he managed to knock the floor out from under the uber-class of consumer electronics. Today there’s a much larger and more diverse audience enjoying Apple products, and I’m grateful to Steve Jobs for that legacy. – Paul Burani, Web Liquid Group

Redefining Creativity

Steve Jobs fundamentally changed how we think about creativity. It’s not just about graphic representation or a collection of words. Rather creativity is how you approach a problem and hopefully provide elegant design and facilitate functionality in the process. Jobs taught marketers and advertisers that your customers can’t imagine what they need because they haven’t seen it before. Jobs showed us how to do this time after time with the Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, and iPad. – Heidi Cohen, Riverside Marketing

Tuning Into the iPod, iTunes

Steve Jobs was an absolute visionary, and his contributions to the industry will live on. It was the development of the Apple iPod and iTunes where Jobs struck brilliance; it changed the way we listen and digest music, setting off a digital tidal wave through the music industry. The development of the iPhone took the smartphone to the next level and led to the creation of the application market that Apple now dominates. And future generations should realize that Jobs said to always take brilliance to the limit and then go one step further. Thank you Steve, I’ll remember you for a lifetime.
– Nick Cifuentes,

Creating Experiences

Visionary, genius, love, inventions, created, changed, incredible, Mac, iPod, iPad, iPhone, simple, great, thank you, missed. These are some of the most popular words found when running a conversation cloud on Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs made products people didn’t even know they needed. He created experiences and revolutionized the way we communicate and how we consume music and entertainment. He combined great design with technology to reinvent and create new categories and industries. He improved our lives and made it cool to think differently. Steve Jobs will be missed, but his influence and impact will be felt for generations to come. Rest in peace. – Michael Della Penna, SuiteDialog

Seducing Mere Mortals

In 1984 a friend of mine was at film school and they had been given computers. He wanted to show his to me – a “Macintosh,” he said. To that point I had known about Radio Shack and word processors. I was in art school at the time and considered computers to be as likely an item of interest to me as perhaps a bowl of crickets.

It was a cute thing, putty-colored. The screen was black text on a white background, like ink on paper – vast improvement over Halloween green flickering on black! But what hooked me was when he told me to type my name – and quickly my friend changed the font. To Olde English. I was astounded. Then he showed me something called MacPaint. Incredibly, you could draw squiggly lines. And if you didn’t like the squiggle, you could erase it!

In a fever, I saw that if you could draw squiggly lines and change fonts, then ultimately, you could do anything – it would only be a matter of time.

Using a succession of Steve’s products, I became a computer illustrator; then a multimedia designer; then a web designer; then in a twist, a web analytics specialist. Today I am comfortable with PCs and Macs. But it can truly be said that without Steve’s 128K, floppy-disk OS-based “Hello” machine, I would have today some very different vocation, most likely much less satisfying.

Steve made microprocessors jump through hoops and entertain. I think of it as a sort of digital flea-circus that took over the world. And he kept seducing us with insanely great digital inventions right up until the end.

Somewhere, I hope he and Thomas Edison are peacefully smiling down at us mortals. – Andrew Edwards, Technology Leaders

Understanding Consumer Needs

Innovation is not a one-hit wonder. Rather, true innovation is a persistent process of always seeking perfection and then aligning resources and collaborators to achieve it. Steve Jobs’ unique ability to understand consumers’ needs, envision beautiful technology products to fulfill them, and tirelessly refine products until they are perfect is something rare and to be admired. He was the North Star that the rest of the company, indeed the rest of the world, could look up to and follow. And this genius translated into consistent marketing success. Future marketers should look beyond the silo of their discipline and emulate Steve Jobs’ cross-functional vision, combining technology and art, product and design. Farewell and Respect.
– Augustine Fou, Ph.D.

Dissatisifed With the Ordinary

I’ve never been a big user of Apple products, but like so many, I’ve always been a huge Steve Jobs fan. I think of Steve Jobs as the ultimate creator of consumer products. We call them computers, phones, tablets, and “technology,” but it really applies to anything you do. Jobs offered a constant reminder that you are “putting something into your customer’s hands.”

And that’s as true in B2B as it is in the consumer world. Maybe even more. You can read about it in books like “Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company” (Robert Brunner et al.), or “Selling the Invisible” (Harry Beckwith). But the most passionate fire came from Jobs; it’s an eternal flame of dissatisfaction with ordinary.

In our industry, we produce reports, for starters. And they go into our customer’s hands. Under Jobs’ watchful eye, how many 50-page spreadsheets or mindless data dumps would have ever made it into a client’s hands? Exactly none.

Steve Jobs always asked: What are we putting in our customer’s hands? It mustn’t come across as an afterthought. – Andrew Goodman, Page Zero Media

Inspired by the Jetsons

Many global marketers wax lyrical about all manner of consumer-related phenomenon and how it is studied and used to drive product development. Steve Jobs openly admitted that one of his greatest influences in product development was The Jetsons. What a guy! – Mike Grehan, Incisive Media

Connecting, Capturing, and Sharing

No other human being has had the impact on the way in which we all meaningfully connect, capture, and share with those important to us, especially those we love, than Steve Jobs. Brands that are at the center of human connection garner the largest market share and premium. Steve Job’s brilliance as a marketer is he anchored on human beings, not “consumers.” – Cathy Halligan, PowerReviews


My first memory of Apple was their 1984 commercial with an Olympic runner that shattered the current paradigm of PC computing. Since then I have been an advocate of Apple products and of Steve Jobs. I have worked with Apple computer on many fronts throughout the years, all along being inspired by the vision and passion of Steve’s leadership, even when he was with Pixar. Everything from advertising to new innovative products caused me to always look forward to the next innovative tool.

When Steve returned to Apple it was like an injection of innovation and passion that had been missing as Apple floundered through the years without him. With the introduction of some of the most life-changing devices like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad he has literally changed the world we live in. I for one will miss this one of a kind leader who dramatically influenced the way we think, work, and live. – Ron Jones, Symetri Internet Marketing

The Unnoticed Impact

The Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad are all nothing compared to the impact of the content distribution monolith we now call iTunes. Creative pariah on device, yes. User experience guru, yes. Entrepreneur with a nose for massive opportunity, the biggest of yes. This is where iTunes comes into play. Basically Steve and Apple showed the world how to monetize content on the Internet. No one except Jeff Bezos had figured out how to do that. Not Rupert Murdoch and his thousands of media mogul friends, not the music industry, and not even movie studios (until the late arrival of Hulu).

ITunes created the first platform to deliver high quality content in a manageable, consumer friendly manner and truly harnessed the power of this thing we call the Internet. For that, Steve Jobs deserves to be mentioned with Gutenberg and Carnegie, all harnessing new methods of distribution and boldly being the first to figure out how to monetize it in simple ways. – Andrew Kahlow, Online Marketing Institute

Steve, Thank You for the iButton

Apple products are intuitive, therefore they encourage innovation. You do not have to learn how to use their products; the learning comes naturally. And if the learning comes naturally, it also becomes increasingly easier to use the product to assist with what you want to do. The iPhone, the MacBook, and the iPad have spurred a number of application service providers to create applications that are invoked at the click of a button.

I see so many consumers trying to adjust their view at an ATM or kiosk as if they were looking at their iPhone. These same consumers complain as to why their financial institutions or grocers or retailers cannot simplify their screens.

My niece is 11 months old and can scroll through a picture album on an iPad. My grandfather is 87 years old and uses the iPhone for more than holding a conversation. My daughter carries 20 pounds less each day to school because some of her textbooks are available on the iPad.

Computing used to be very complicated and businesses almost “enjoyed” training consumers to use their devices and applications because it could lock in the consumer. Steve Jobs pushed others to think about simplicity and ease of use in design, pushing it to the next stage of innovation. This phenomenon is known as the iButton, where the consumer simply expects businesses to be as intuitive as a button. – Sundeep Kapur

Changing the World With Beauty and Simplicity

I got the news of Steve Jobs’ passing while reading my social media streams on my iPad. Mr. Jobs knew that what mattered most about his products was not the specs or the bells and whistles but the connection with the consumer. He showed that by building products with beauty and simplicity, and marketing them as complements to our lives rather than power tools sold by numbers and bulleted feature lists, a company, and a man, could change the world. – Maxwell Knight, Turn

Inspiring Innovation

When things don’t fit our plan, we can pick up, start again, move on, and find a better solution. We are the innovators of the online marketplace. We all are Steve Jobs. – Pace Lattin, Executive Council of Performance Marketing

The Wow Factor

I’ve owned a multitude of Apple products over the years, starting with an Apple II computer, proceeding thru a couple of Macintoshes, and onward from there. When I was an executive at Power Computing, a $450 million revenue Macintosh clone maker in the mid-1990s (and the first company to sell seven figures worth of product on the Internet, beating Amazon, eBay, and Dell to that milestone in 1996), I was even more deeply involved in the Apple ecosystem, exhibiting at MacWorlds, and witnessing the return of Steve to Apple Computer (at which point he promptly shut down the licensed cloners which, though frustrating at the time, turned out to be the right decision for Apple and its users).

I remember talking with a good friend, and Internet pioneer who built a $85 million e-commerce company back in 1997-1998 about the problem with cellphones – we griped about why nobody had combined a watch, an alarm clock, a cellphone, a calculator, a PDA, and a digital camera. Though many people tried in fits and starts to get this combination right, it took Steve Jobs to EXECUTE on the vision. Steve had a gift for moving beyond “good enough” to “WOW.” He did very few truly new things, but it was the combination of the “RIGHT” things plus just that extra bit of sizzle to get past the tipping point that made the magic.

Steve inspired me to get beyond the axiom of technology marketing that products merely need to be “ok” and that it’s all sales and marketing after that. He proved that people still desire and will pay more for a quality experience, and that product excellence is a mark work striving to achieve. In a world where so much seems to be a race toward the lowest common denominator (in price, in quality, in whatever), this is a refreshing ray of hope! – Bill Leake, Apogee Results

It Just Works

What is the single most important development in Steve Jobs’ career? This is tough to say, but I would have to say OS9, OSX, and iOS. The operating systems are all about usability and how to make computers more accessible to everyday folks. “It just works.” – Joe Nguyen , comScore

Follow Your Heart

Like Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, at his core, was an innovator. He often lived by Ford’s quote, “If I asked the people what they wanted they would ask for a faster horse.” Jobs understood that you needed to follow your heart rather than the majority. Most importantly, Jobs understood what people wanted more than they even knew themselves. What jobs taught me was to always follow your heart. – Erik Qualman

A Chance Encounter

I saw the man only once, but he had a profound impact on my memories of web 2.0-era Silicon Valley. I was having ice cream with my son (about four years old at the time) across the street from the Apple store on University Avenue in Palo Alto. A man that looked exactly like Steve was crossing the street. I jumped up, grabbed my son’s hand, and walked up to him. I didn’t dare come too close – didn’t want him to think I was crazy, and I heard he could be difficult – but I looked into his eyes, and he looked back with a smile that kind of said, “yeah, dude, it’s me.” – Giovanni Rodriguez, Deloitte Postdigital Enterprise

The CEO for the Rest of Us

Count me as one of the legions of people who has felt the presence of Steve Jobs and his innovations throughout most of my life. I used an Apple. In seventh grade, saved up for a Macintosh, owned a Newton, and even played with a NeXT once or twice. The man made great products, which allowed brilliant people to do amazing things and we all owe a debt of gratitude.

But his biggest impact on me has little to do with the things he made and much to do with the person he was. Yes, I work in the corporate world but it is a world that Jobs built. It’s a world where you can work but also be clever and creative and passionate. You can relentlessly seek truth and beauty and maintain total ownership and control of your true self. I hope to think that I would have done this with my life no matter what. But having Steve there certainly helped. Thanks. – Gary Stein, iCrossing

The Mobile Phone: An Experience

It’s fair to say that Steve’s influence was the only reason that I convinced myself to get an iPhone. I was skeptical about using a touchscreen with no stylus, but having used the usual suspects such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and HTC, I figured that a touchscreen is worth trying.

And that changed my life personally and professionally. In some way, the iPhone represents the most important development in Steve Jobs’ career as the device is a primary functional tool used by millions worldwide. Yet, Steve extended the usability of the tool by making it easier to access the Internet, turned GPS coordinates into a tool used by runners to track how far they ran, and removed the fixed physical keyboard from the phone to give gamers a wide-screen experience. Clearly, Steve Jobs does not see the tool as a phone. He sees a device that provides different experiences for different people, and yes, can be used as a mobile handset.

Future generations will remember Steve Jobs as an individual who possessed an uncanny instinct to spot latent consumer needs and develop products and services for them. Mobile marketers will thank Steve Jobs for developing a device that made location-based advertising, in-app advertising, and sharing on mobile social networks into mainstream advertising mediums. Many people will have different reasons to remember Steve Jobs, and I’m sure all will be grateful to have been part of the crazy ones in our lifetime. – Darren Yan

Never a Follower

His mentality of not letting setbacks deter him from following his passion to build his vision. His belief, his passion in developing what he believes can revolutionize the industry, go beyond the glamour that you see on the surface as being Apple’s CEO. It’s rare to find a listed company CEO whose dream is not solely on monetary gains but to lead and revolutionize an industry.

He was NEVER a follower, NEVER afraid to make bold moves that went against the norms.” – Antony Yiu, iProspect

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

He definitely influenced me. One quote in particular, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish,” which I made a poster out of for my office. As a participant in the digital media industry, this really rings through given the constant change.

The single most important development was the iPhone release. The future of mobile marketing is bright with the continued growth of the iPhone. Better screen resolution, faster speeds, stronger social experiences (for example, native Twitter integration), and better operating system software make for some fundamentally powerful drivers of growth in mobile marketing and mobile applications.

Jobs’ brilliance was driven by his vision, and his uncanny ability to sell. People followed his lead like no other CEO in the tech of media space. They should know that Jobs took big risks, and focused on what made him happy. That is the key to building a legacy. – Robert Weber,

Transcending National and Political Boundaries

From a personal point of view, many of the same quotes that I appreciate have been reflected already in the media, some from the famous 2005 Stanford speech. But one thing that the Western media hasn’t really picked up as much is the universality of Apple and the Steve Jobs’ vision that transcended all national and political boundaries. In China, for instance, tens of millions of Apple products have been sold and over one million people are employed through Apple or its primary contractor Honhai (a Taiwanese company). The 35 million people (in one day) that have posted on the Sina Weibo site is a testament to his universal appeal, as are the impromptu iVigils throughout the world. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that fully 15 percent of all Twitter posts in the 24 hours following his death were on him. He said when he was young that he wanted to put his “nick” on the world – he certainly accomplished that. – Michael Zung, Bite Communications

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