Steve Jobs and the Transformation of IT

Carl Weinschenk

Even a story that says something that is obvious is worth reading if it is well written, and Nicholas Kolakowski's eWeek piece on the transformative impact of Steve Jobs on mobility is one such case.

It wasn't long ago that Apple was a desktop- and consumer-focused company. That no longer is the case, of course. Writes Kolakowski:

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The Legacy of Steve Jobs

For Steve Jobs, it was about creating magical products - things that were as much a part of his fancy as they were part of the real world.

Although Apple products were primarily geared toward consumers, enthusiasm for the iPhone, iPad and Macs-coupled with businesses' increased willingness to accept employees' personal devices into their IT ecosystem-led to the company's increasingly significant presence in both the enterprise and small and midsize businesses (SMBs). During a July earnings call, Apple executives claimed some 86 percent of the Fortune 500 had either tested or deployed the tablet.

The one thing I would change about that well-written paragraph is that in most cases it wasn't "businesses' increased willingness to accept" employees' devices. It was their acceptance of the reality that they had no choice but to do so. It was a change largely driven by Apple. People loved their iPhones and, later, iPads. They brought them to work, whether IT -- which historically exerted total control on mobile device use -- protested or not.

The bottom line is that Jobs' Apple is at the core of two deeply related trends that define much of corporate communications today: mobility and the consumerization of IT. The questions to ask: How different is the mobile world because of Apple? If there wasn't an iOS, would there be an Android? If there wasn't an iPad, would there be a Xoom or a Galaxy Tab?

The answer is that there, of course, would be a healthy mobile sector full of cool devices. No one person or company creates a market, and it-and Apple-will go on. The market creates the market. At the same time, it is difficult to overestimate how Jobs' Apple stimulated, shaped, channeled and accelerated mobility and the consumerization of IT.

Corporate mobility, in the form of BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and other operating systems, long predated anything from Apple. But, clearly, the era is divided by the introduction of the iPhone. Likewise, there were tablets, ultra mobile personal computers (UMPCs) and other types of non-notebook devices before the iPad. It was a bit of a back water, however. Apple made it a consumer and IT star.

Apple's explosion in the mobile space also changed cellular networking. During the past few years, the drama has centered on carriers' ability to handle ongoing mobile demand. The canaries in the coal mine were the overwhelmed AT&T networks in San Francisco and New York City due to iPhone traffic. Such fears -- and the need for networks fast enough to deliver video and other voracious applications even in non-stress situations -- led to the development of 4G technologies. The overall dynamic of heading off scarcity, at its core, was largely the result of the popularity of Apple products.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 6, 2011 1:01 AM John John  says:

I think a company and an individual can create a market - if the market is ready for their product or service. Many of the products and services being charged on our credit cards today did not exist even 5 years ago, so those markets had to be created by someone or something. It's never the result of one single action, but the culmination of a number of trends.

Notwithstanding, Steve Job's contribution (he will be missed) to the market that the iPhone satisfied, it was a combination of factors that led to its explosion - some product design, some network evolution, some financial (consumer disposable income), some financial (business cost cutting), some fashion. The single greatest impact of the iPhone was the blurring of business and pleasure. People who have their personal iPhone connected to their company's network should not be allowed to complain about their work/life balance; they blew it themselves. Companies don't care about your life - they care only about the bottom line and we've let them take over too much of our private time.

Just my thoughts.

Oct 6, 2011 1:06 AM Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk  says: in response to John

Thanks for your thoughts, John. In terms of the blurring of business and pleasure, I agree that the iPhone was the greatest enabler. The blending is not by definition bad. But often, as you say, it works out poorly. I think it is an important thing to point out as we mourn Jobs' far-too-early passing.

Oct 7, 2011 3:25 AM Khan Khan  says:

RIP Steve Jobs.... No one would aspire to beat you at your game if you weren't as good at it as you were. None of today's technology would be what it is. Thank you Steve Jobs. You were a visionary and an innovator and you will be missed. iSad

Oct 11, 2011 1:59 AM amendaa amendaa  says:

This is a very interesting article on the different types of skills required in the IT Industry. They range from programming to networks.


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