November 09, 2011, 9:51 AM — I asked in a blog a few months ago whether Apple could continue being the consistently creative force it has traditionally been if it were to lose Steve Jobs.
I wasn't trying to be morbid. Jobs was still out on medical leave for unstated but entirely public reasons and had returned before from similar episodes.
Looking at the impact Apple made with both the iPhone and iPad, I wondered whether Apple would have been able to produce either one, let alone make each one so disruptive an element it would put the rest of the PC industry on its ear.
Could Apple really be Apple without Steve jobs? Or would it just be another box manufacturer with a fading reputation for slick design?
I wasn't the only one asking the question. Since Jobs died, everyone with shred of geekery in the soul has had to re-evaluate Apple after its loss of a founder and CEO who was hated by half the geeks in the world as an arrogant jerk and worshipped by another half as the source of all creativity and grace in the computing universe.
Many, both fanbois and Mac-haters, often found themselves to be members of both halves at the same time.
Jobs was a creative genius. Even if you hate using either that term or Apple products, you have to admit he defined an aesthetic and built computers (and price tags) to match.
He was also a control-freaking, egomaniacal jerk who didn't suffer fools gladly. Or geniuses. Or sycophants or competitors or anyone else. His tirades made working for Apple hellish for many, especially in the early years.
Could jobs have infused Apple the company with that creative spirit to the point that those who came after could keep the Apple aesthetic, the Apple tradition alive.
It's far too soon to tell about that. Judging from its behavior since Jobs passed away, though, it looks like he did manage to turn Apple into the same kind of jerk he could be at his worst.
Apple channels Steve Jobs' pettiness, temper
The best example is one that's typical of some computer companies, but that Apple claimed to have overcome. It rushed the iPhone 5 to market without a few key features but with a few sloppy bits left in it.