The passing of Steve Jobs the day after the iPhone 4S launch under the symbolic guidance of his successor closes off Steve's life in a fitting and tidy manner. The signifcant shifts in industry in the past two decades–computing, publishing, media, mobile–have been touched or, more frequently, been shaped by what Steve has built.
Yesterday night as I was reading and watching various tributes to Jobs, I thought back to a TDWI talk by Donald Farmer earlier this year. (A version of his talk is available here. ) Donald gave a very insightful perspective of our future that is shaped by four forces: search, mobile, apps, and social media. When you stop and think about that, you'll note what many considers Jobs' opus magnum–his iPhone–is the embodiment and intersection of these four. Factoids: two-third of mobile searches on Google originates from an iOS device. Sixteen billion songs downloaded over the ten years that iTunes has reigned works out to about 51 songs downloaded per second. Ground-breaking price-points recreated and redefined the media, gaming and application market. Facebook, Twitter etc needed the vehicle of Jobs' iPhone to make the leap from college curiosity to ubiquity.
And Jobs' influence extends into Big Data. Whether you consider the actual data sources that were fed by iOS directly or indirectly (such as Twitter and Facebook), short product life cycles which challenge supply chains (which Apple's product exemplifies), or just heightened expectations for how to interact and work with machines that compute, Steve is part of this fabric too. Steve and Apple are the ever-present force that pushed industry forward in ways that no one expected.