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RIP, Steve Jobs

By Sree Sreenivasan | October 10, 2011 12:46pm

As I write this column on my MacBook Air, millions of people are writing, Facebooking, tweeting, blogging and sharing their thoughts about the passing of Steve Jobs, the visionary founder of Apple.

The interconnected, digital world of smartphones, tablets and personal computers is one that he didn't create single-handedly, but one he did more than anyone else to make a reality. Sure, many of these products existed before Apple took a crack at them. But Jobs's insistence that they be easy to use, work as promised and look good is why my 8-year-old twins in Manhattan and their grandparents in southern India share a love of the iPad, and why Apple products are the most sought-after gadgets in the world.

If you are an Apple skeptic (as I once was, and many people I know used to be), it's sometimes hard to understand what the fuss is all about. For years, Apple's market share of the PC business hovered in the single digits (especially outside America); the prices on the products was always more — much more — than comparable PCs; and many popular software titles didn't run on Macs. It was easy to make fun Apple "fanboys" and the cult of personality around Jobs.

But once you started using an Apple product, it was easy to understand the hype.

Take the choice of buying a laptop. For several years now, I've said to anyone who's asked that it's always better to pay a premium for a Mac, even tough it usually runs hundreds of dollars more than a PC. The reason is that you are actually saving thousands of dollars and some blood pressure. How? Because you don't have to worry about costly viruses the way you have to on a Windows machine. That fact alone makes Macs worth the price.

Jobs is fascinating beyond his masterpieces like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The story of his ouster in the 1980s from his beloved Apple, which he founded, his exile and eventual triumphant return is itself unprecedented in corporate America. His philosophy of not focusing on focus groups and making sure form and function went hand-in-hand made him unusual in the business world. But they also made him incredibly successful at Apple and at Pixar, his animation studio that helped change the movie industry. 

On my Twitter stream and Facebook profile, there are a lot of memorable comments about Jobs and his legacy. But here are four I liked in particular:

From Alfred: How many of us learned of the news from a device he conceived? I read it on an iPad.

From Elliott: I'm struck most by the timing given yesterday's Apple presentation. Almost like he fought off death until he was sure his baby was in good hands.

From Max: I am told he was a royal pain in the a** to work for, and almost impossible to please. But that's how he made "insanely great" the goal for all the products he created.

From Rebecca: 56? Too young.

And here's an eloquent statement Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "America lost a genius who will be remembered with Edison and Einstein, and whose ideas will shape the world for generations to come. Again and again over the last four decades, Steve Jobs saw the future and brought it to life long before most people could even see the horizon. And Steve's passionate belief in the power of technology to transform the way we live brought us more than smart phones and iPads: it brought knowledge and power that is reshaping the face of civilization. In New York City's government, everyone from street construction inspectors to NYPD detectives have harnessed Apple's products to do their jobs more efficiently and intuitively. Tonight our City – a city that has always had such respect and admiration for creative genius – joins with people around the planet in remembering a great man and keeping Laurene and the rest of the Jobs family in our thoughts and prayers."

One final thought. Those "I am a PC" ads from Microsoft in recent years have tried to show that PC users, too, can be creative, hip and cutting-edge. But I bet that many people who like to think, "I'm a PC," own an iPod, iPhone or iPad - or all three.

What are your thoughts on Steve Jobs? Post your comments below using your Facebook account or on Twitter @sree

Every week, DNAinfo contributing editor Sree Sreenivasan shares his observations about the changing media landscape.