Apple: iPhone inventor Steve Jobs has died

Steve Jobs, the computer visionary and Apple co-founder who led a renaissance at the company and revolutionized the music, mobile and entertainment markets in the process, died Wednesday. He was 56.

steve jobs iphone

Click here to watch Steve Jobs unveil the first iPhone.

His death was confirmed by Apple. "Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives," Apple's board said in a statement. "The world is immeasurably better because of Steve."

Jobs, who had been battling health issues for the past several years, resigned as CEO of Apple in August, after stating that he could no longer meet his duties and expectations as Apple's CEO. In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and has taken several leaves of absence from Apple since then. His death came the day after Apple unveiled the latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S. 

"No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve's death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an email to Apple employees. "We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much."

Tributes and reaction poured in Wednesday evening and into Thursday morning from across the technology, telecommunications and media worlds, and from Apple fans everywhere. In a statement, President Obama described Jobs as one of "the greatest of American innovators" who exemplified the country's ingenuity. "There may be no greater tribute to Steve's success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented," he said.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, a longtime friend of Jobs--and at times a strong adversary--described it as an "honor" to work with Jobs. "The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come," Gates said in a statement. "For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it's been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely."

In January 2007, after years of rumors, Jobs rocked consumer electronics with the introduction of the first iPhone, which has since undergone four successive overhauls. The device was not the world's first touchscreen handset, but its design and easy-to-use user interface became the standard for all smartphone aspirants, especially after the launch of the iPhone 3G in 2008 and Apple's App Store.

The iPhone's touchscreen design and interface spawned scores of imitators in the months and years after its release from almost every major handset maker, including HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Sony Ericsson. Further, the focus on applications and user acceptance of the app model dominated the mobile space following the introduction of the App Store. Apple announced Tuesday that downloads from the App Store have surpassed 18 billion, and there are 500,000 apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch. 

Apple's iPhone had ripple effects for the rest of the mobile platform ecosystem. Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, released to the public shortly after the iPhone 3G was launched, became locked in a battle with the iPhone for developer attention and market share. As of August, Android commanded 43.4 percent of the global smartphone market, according to research firm Gartner, besting Apple's 18.2 percent. Still, Apple's and Jobs' achievement cannot be understated since Apple has ascended to its position largely on the basis of one new phone model every year.

Jobs' reconfiguring of the smartphone market has also caused traditional players, from Microsoft to Nokia to Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) to reconsider and alter their own mobile strategies in the wake of the disruption caused by the iPhone.

In 2009, again after months of rumors, Apple introduced a tablet computer, dubbed the iPad, and got carrier partner AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T)  to offer no-contract prepaid data with the device. Despite some initial skepticism that there would be a market for such a device, the iPad and its successor, the iPad 2, have sold extremely well and spurred competitors as diverse as Acer, Hewlett-Packard, LG, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) and Samsung to launch their own tablet competitors. There are now more than 140,000 apps for the iPad. 

Since he returned to lead the company in 1997 after a dozen-year hiatus, Apple has sold more than 314 million iPods, 129 million iPhones and 29 million iPads, according to data A.M. Sacconaghi Jr., an analyst with Bernstein Research, provided to the New York Times.

Jobs developed a reputation for being extremely hands-on in the design of Apple products. Jobs had three iPhone prototypes made within a year and rejected the first two before settling on the third. His design ethos of creating sleek products that have a minimalist appeal and maximalist cool factor came from his belief that he could shape consumer desire. 

A journalist reportedly asked Jobs after the introduction of the iPad what kind of market research guided the development of the product. "None," Jobs replied. "It isn't the consumers' job to know what they want." 

Jobs is survived by his wife Laurene Powell, whom he married in 1991, as well as his son Reed and daughters Erin and Eve. Jobs also has another child, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, from a relationship he had with Chrisann Brennan.     

For more:
- see this Apple statement 
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this NYT article
- see this AP article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this separate WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this separate NYT article
- see this Tipb post

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