Apple’s Consumer Impact on the Personal Cloud

Apple co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, has resigned as CEO from Apple today, after a remarkable career.  With the introduction of the iPhone, Steve Jobs achieved something that might be unique in the history of business: he single-handedly upended the power structure of a major industry.  In the US, before the iPhone, the carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) had an ironclad grip on the rest of the value chain – particularly, handset makers and app makers.

The business of Jobs

Steve Jobs, the visionary and business executive who has built Apple into what may be the worlds most powerful and autocratic company, has resigned as his company’s CEO, effective today at the age of 56.  One of Steve Jobs’ greatest contributions to the tech world is creating Apple. Little did he know when he co-founded Apple that the company would become such an integral part of the lives of millions around the globe.  If he had instead chosen to follow a different path, the world would be a much different place today.  It’s debatable whether technology would have moved as far along as it has, especially from the consumer perspective.

A focus on design

Throughout his career, Steve Jobs has put a premium on product design. He realizes that people are more likely to buy those things that catch their eye. He understood that the rest of the market didn’t necessarily have the eye for innovative design that he did.  By using design to differentiate his products, Jobs showed other companies in the industry that aesthetic appeal really does matter to consumers and enterprise customers alike.

For years, Microsoft and its vendor partners were trying to make tablets catch on with the mainstream. But for the most part, those devices only really appealed to medical professionals and other niche markets, with an enterprise trickle-down.  With the launch of the iPad, all that has changed. In 2010 alone, Apple sold 15 million iPad units. Some analysts say more than 50 million tablets will ship around the world this year.  With a single device, Steve Jobs once again revolutionized a market.

The rise of digital content

When Apple started as a computer company, few could have envisioned it revolutionizing the music business. But with the launch of the iPod and iTunes, it did just that. Steve Jobs saw an opportunity in digital content, and he capitalized on it. By making iTunes so user-friendly, he almost single-handedly ruined the market for CDs. The music industry is forever changed because of Jobs.

When smartphones or tablets are being evaluated nowadays, consumers and even enterprise customers examine how many applications are available for a respective platform. Steve Jobs saw an opportunity with mobile apps, and he took advantage of it in 2008. Since then, billions of apps have been downloaded from Apple’s marketplace, and every other company in the market has created its own store just to stay relevant. Mobile apps are the future–and Jobs can be thanked for that.

Consumer-centric visions of the personal cloud

Jobs built Apple by shaping the corporation as a tech company counterculture, following instincts based upon the customer needs.  He felt customers wanted technology streamlined, and simple, so he brought them that very concept, and he tied it all together. The iPhone works with the Mac computer.  The Mac computer works with the iPod.  The iPad works with the iPhone, etc.  The trend in U.S. tech was just the opposite, but Jobs emulated consumer wants — simple products, big delivery.  He knew the customer, and knew how to present his products.

Apple is known at the end of Jobs’ leadership tenure as a company that can do no wrong. Just as Jobs announced his retirement, the company has more than $76 billion in cash on the books and is the global smartphone and tablet leader. Laptop computer sales aren’t too bad, either, indicating Apple’s infiltration in yet another market, even as HP and Dell falter.