Last night, eulogies for Steve Jobs flooded all sorts of social media platforms (in many cases powered, as was often observed, by devices Jobs himself spearheaded). These goodbye wishes were frequently interspersed with Occupy Wall Street updates, with no sense of inherent irony. That sort of contradiction is part of what makes Steve Jobs unique and much-loved. Jobs is a quintessential American in the old style—a modernist entrepreneur in a post-modern era. Popular opinion may have turned against those who turn money into more money, but Americans will always love those whose fortune is made in production.
The legacy of Steve Jobs since his return to Apple in 1996 has been as the most influential music-industry executive, despite not working in the music industry. To an extent, Jobs’s eulogies were already written in August when he resigned from his post at Apple. For our part, we keep returning to Kelefa Sanneh’s New Yorker profile. With the rise of high-speed internet and digital music, the music industry was in a panic, having lost control of all but the earliest stages of music distribution. The innovation of the iPod was to adapt a music-playback device to the internet era, and use that as a springboard into the music-distribution business. Apple gave the music industry a shot in the arm, and yet a decade later, it’s still not clear to what extent that industry will recover. The tech industry, on the other hand, is still booming.
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