What is the secret to Apple’s success? After introducing the iPad 2 in March, Steve Jobs offered one answer:
It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing — and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.
Steve Jobs’ resignation as CEO of Apple leaves the company without its founder and lead visionary, but still in very capable hands. As I’ve written, Tim Cook is better suited than anyone in the tech industry to run Apple and lead the company into the future.
The talents of Jony Ive, Phil Schiller and Ron Johnson (or Johnson’s successor) will ensure that Apple’s design, marketing and retail needs are well-met. The software teams have great talent and a clear road map, and Jobs’ attention to detail and passion for perfection permeate Apple’s culture from top to bottom.
Without Jobs, Apple’s only missing piece is the role he unofficially filled for years: chief advocate for media, humanities and liberal arts. If that sounds trivial, remember this: At several key points in its history, Jobs’ skill in this role saved and transformed the company.
Jobs famously isn’t a trained programmer, engineer or MBA, or even a wunderkind dropout steeped in any of those fields like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. (The New York Times even did a discussion panel earlier this year titled, “Career Counselor: Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?,” contrasting the two founders’ engineering vs. liberal arts approach to education — something of a false dilemma, even for Gates and Jobs, but a revealing one all the same.)
Instead, Jobs dropped out from Reed College after a semester, lingering only to crash on friends’ dorm room floors and audit classes in topics like calligraphy that he found interesting in themselves, as he recounts in his 2005 Stanford commencement address:
I learned about serif and sans-serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my lif...