Steve Jobs, who died Wednesday at 56, was the Pied Piper of mobile technology: Wherever he went, everyone else followed.
In June 2007, he changed the technology world and the way people interact with the Internet when he introduced the iPhone. The smartphone was light years ahead of all of the feature phones on the market. Apple sold millions of iPhones within weeks, and other companies began introducing smartphones of their own. Today 43% of mobile phone users own a smartphone, according to The Nielsen Co. Smartphones running Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating system have the lead in market share, but that includes a wide array of devices. The iPhone remains the single most popular smartphone on the market.
In May 2010, Jobs once more shook up the technology world when he debuted the iPad. Apple again sold millions within weeks. Like the iPhone, the iPad was unlike anything that preceded it. A number of companies have tried to compete with the iPad—29 million consumers own one, Apple reports—and have failed miserably. Amazon.com Inc., though, made its own entry with the launch last week of its Kindle Fire tablet. But it’s a follower. Steve Jobs’ iPad is the leader.
If it wasn’t for Steve Jobs, mobile commerce likely would not be entering the mainstream today. It was his vision of a mobile future that led to massive adoption of mobile technology, the tools that enable consumers to connect with retailers anywhere, anytime. The popularity of his iPhone and iPad spurred merchants to create m-commerce sites and smartphone and tablet apps that offer rich and easy shopping while on the go.
Apple is arguably the most innovative company today—period. And that is because of the leadership and imagination of Steve Jobs. He has left an indelible mark on mobile technology. He is irreplaceable.