Even back in 2007, Steve Jobs career was broken down to three acts by New York Magazine. Act I is "The Rise" from 1975-1985 as the two Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) start Apple in a Silicon Valley garage and change the face of personal computing with the Apple II. The company goes public, leaving Jobs a multi-millionaire at 25. Act II is "The Fall" (1985-1996) characterized by Jobs' departure from the company he co-founded, replaced by a soft drink executive. He works hard to keep two businesses (NeXT and Pixar) running. The article lists Act III as "The Resurrection" with Steve's return to Apple, the rollout of the iMac, the iPod, the sale of Pixar to Disney and the fattening of the bank book to billionaire status. The story, though, misses out on what happened next as it was written a bit more than a month before the launch of the iPhone.
Jobs certainly seemed to forecast the future when he told the reporter back in May 2007 that, "The usual suspects will try to copy the (iPhone) hardware, and it will take them some time, and maybe they will and maybe they won't be able to." As for the software, which later became iOS, Jobs said that the software is 5 years ahead of the competition, a lead that Apple has apparently squandered to Android if yesterday's Apple iPhone 4 announcement was any guide.
New York Magazine's take on the Apple iPhone was that perhaps Steve Jobs had bit off more than he and Apple could chew by going into the cell phone business. After all, other companies like Nokia, Motorola and Samsung had previously dealt with the carriers. But Jobs apparently spoke to the carriers in the same way he conducted most business deals-it was his way or the highway. Rumors circulated that Verizon had turned down the chance to be the first carrier to offer the iPhone because Jobs had demanded input into how the carrier would price the service plans for the device. AT&T was said not to be Steve's first choice, but because they were more flexible and perhaps shared the executive's view on where the phone was heading, the company ended up with an exclusive in the U.S. that lasted until this past February.
Ironically, the article passed along a rumor that Google was about to buy Apple. Android users probably shudder to think what would have happened if that happened. The magazine closed out the article by saying that if the Apple iPhone tuned out to be a failure, Jobs' reputation would take a big hit from "visionary to just another overreaching mogul."
While the entire story of the Apple iPhone is still being written, and we don't know what lies at the finish line, we do know that the Steve Jobs story has sadly come to an end. And with the success of the Apple iPhone and later, the Apple iPad, Jobs' reputation was cemented as a visionary. No doubt the iPhone will be around long after his death today. Like Walt Disney, another visionary who had written the book for his employees to follow after his death, the impact of Steve Jobs will live on at Apple for years from now. A bit of the man will still be found in the hardware and software of every device that the company launches for the next several years.