Op-Ed: Le Monde remembers the Apple founder, as a corporate executive who was always more than a businessman. His gift was to see the ways that the latest technology could enter into ordinary lives.
PARIS - Flowers in the night, candles –a few tears, too… in front of electronic stores! Has the world we're living in become so consumer-oriented that only capitalist heroes manage to bring us to tears? No. Steve Jobs, who died Wednesday at the age of 56, was indeed much more than a brilliant CEO.
The Apple co-founder has changed the world. His work has transformed the lives of millions of people across the planet in a much more tangible way than many heads of state ever will.
His death has triggered a frenzy of reactions, from official and anonymous sources alike, that go beyond even the honors usually reserved for globetrotting rock stars. It even reached China, where an estimated 35 million mourning microblogging messages could be read by noon on Thursday on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter.
The American entrepreneur's genius consisted in being able to manipulate technology in order to implant it in everyday life. While many post-war computer manufacturers had launched into a race for power, performance and technical prowess, the Silicon Valley man's sole ambition was to create simple and useful products.
Granted, the computer mouse was not invented by Apple; but the company was the first to come up with the idea of producing a personal computer -- the Macintosh -- with a mouse. That was back in 1984.
A myth in the making
MP3 players were likewise not invented by Apple, nor were online music stores, but the 2001 launching of the iPod and the iTunes digital media store managed to capture generations of customers that record music companies thought were lost forever.
Mobile broadband, touch screens, online services – all had already existed for years, but the Californian brand is the one that succeeded in providing the average man with the whole package, with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the App Store in 2008 and the iPad in 2010.
Steve Jobs fashioned landmark products that have made industrial history, the way other great inventions have over the centuries. His success is all the more symbolic that it is coincides with the mythology of Silicon Valley. He was a 21-year-old college dropout when he created Apple in 1976, together with his friend, Steve Wozniak.
Every step of his original career contributed to make him one of the most outstanding chairman of all time, including his legendary comeback in 1997 to return as CEO of "his' company, 12 years after having been sacked by shareholders.
So even before he became a worldwide superstar, he was already a worldwide super-manager. He used everything globalization could offer him. The Taiwanese company Foxconn, the world's largest maker of electronic components, famous for manufacturing iPhone and iPad's components on Chinese territory, is a key to this success. Foxconn –and even Apple—employees know this for a fact. Jobs' occasionally unrealistic demands, it must be said, have sparked some fits of social unrest.
But ultimately, Steve Jobs will be remembered as one of our era's greatest inventors; and as such, we pause today to pay our respects before this most modern sort of global royalty.
Read the original story in French
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