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2011 YEAR IN REVIEW

Recall: How Steve Jobs even changed Mexicans with Guns

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As is the case whenever someone dies, all Steve Jobs’ personal shortcomings were forgotten on October 5. The day that Apple’s co-founder and top brain succumbed to cancer at age 56 all most of us could remember was how Jobs revolutionized every single arena he entered. Apple II and Macintosh made computers accessible to all; Pixar revolutionized digital animation; iTunes saved the music industry; iPhones turned telephones into platforms for music, photography, video, email, and web surfing; and the iPad launched tablet computing. To gauge Jobs' full impact, the music industry is one of the most obvious places to look. “I received this email on my iPhone while [sitting] here doing mixes for our CD in Pro Tools on this iMac,” Roberto Livar of San Antonio band Bombasta wrote the Current. “I wrote our set list and notes for our upcoming show on my iPad at rehearsal last night and stay in constant contact with our fan base via the social media that runs on all of the above products.”

Jeff Smith of the Hickoids credits Jobs for reducing piracy in music. “His vision provided a way to monetize digital downloads, something that was previously relegated largely to sharing and/or theft,” he said.

Music producer Gordon Raphael (the Strokes, Regina Spektor) resisted the Apple craze in music, for a time. “I held out against using any computers until 1998. I make music, and I thought, ‘Why would I want to watch a TV while I create music?'” Then he started working with Pro Tools and Mac computers and everything changed.

While I've never been a tech guy, I've always felt more comfortable with Mac products. They just feel better. In fact, Job's real triumph has been in revaluing the aesthetics of consumer products: He put the soul inside the machine, so to speak, and wrapped it all in one beautiful body. Under his direction, design came first and engineers had to adapt, not the other way around. After Jobs was forced out of Apple in 1985, the company began returning to the traditional force-the-guts-into-the-computer-box method. “When you do it that way, you come up with awful products,” Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller told Walter Isaacson, author of the superb critical biography Steve Jobs. When Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, design once again became paramount.

While what was in those computers proved transformational to millions, it was the Apple image that put U2 back on top of the world. Bono, another master at synching hip humanism with technology, was criticized for allowing the band to perform “Vertigo” for free in an iPod/iTunes commercial in 2004. But the trade paid off: Apple sold tons of iPods and U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb sold 840,000 copies in its first week, reestablishing them as the biggest band in the world. Two years later, Jobs would design a special iPod for Bono’s Product Red campaign, which raised funds for the fight against AIDS in Africa. Even Bono ended up doing business with the Devil. Or did he?

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