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Op-Ed: Steve Jobs – By Bob Lefsetz

He's gonna die.

That's what I thought after reading this article

Apple cultists never believed Steve Jobs was ill. They bought the rationalization for his non-appearance at Macworld. Apple didn't own the conference. The timing of the show didn't always fit the company's product cycle. Apple was pulling out, so why was it necessary for Steve to appear the final year?

But the financial press never bought this. Traders were up in arms. What's the succession plan? How's this going to affect my pocketbook?

There was no succession plan for John Lennon. When a rock star dies, that's it. The mercenaries at the label rush out product, in the case of Tupac, for years, but creativity stops. They don't find a new person to fill the role. It's history.

Apple is bigger than Steve Jobs.

But Steve Jobs is bigger than Kanye. Bigger than Madonna. Bigger than any act being purveyed by the music industry.

Steve put in his 10,000 hours. He joined the Homebrew Computer Club when computers were for nerds, when knowing the latest tech innovations would never get you laid. And one could say Steve was there at the right time, but in his case, he created the time, he and Steve Wozniak created the first widely adopted personal computer.

But didn't Wozniak do the engineering? Didn't Jobs screw his older partner?

That's a rock star for you. He's complicated. You can't square all his behaviors. He's smart and he's got an utter desire to make it. A will to succeed. And the great ones won't listen to anybody else.

Steve Jobs got fired from Apple because after bending to the Board and hiring John Sculley, he realized Mr. Pepsi would ruin the company. Sculley made a profit while driving the company straight toward a cliff. Jobs returned to rescue his baby, but what is most interesting is Steve's desire to get it right, his refusal to compromise.

The rock stars we revere? That's the way they were. A businessman couldn't tell them what to do. They weren't beholden to corporations. Today's musicians do what's expedient, they've got no backbone, and as a result, few believe. And those that do do so for a very brief time.

Not everyone loves Steve Jobs. Some people hate Apple products. But there are people who hate the Beatles and revere the Stones. Some can't stand Elton John. And there are curious cases like the Carpenters, excoriated during their peak but adored after the passing of their key component.

Steve Jobs has always striven for excellence. He doesn't believe in market research, he believes in his gut. He delivers what people SHOULD have, not what they think they want. Like the Beatles with "Sgt. Pepper", he's reached down deep inside and delivered the theoretically incomprehensible, like the iPhone. Furthermore, it worked!

If Steve Jobs dies it's going to be a day of mourning eclipsing the rites surrounding those of the latest O.D'ed musician. It will be like the loss of Lennon. We will feel collectively that we've lost something, that can't be replaced.

In a world of second-rate products, where people only care about the bottom line, where excellence is for pussies, I revere Steve Jobs and Apple. He's always got my attention. Because he's not resting on his laurels, but always trying to test the limits. Not going on an overpriced greatest hits tour, but demanding you listen to his new material.

Steve Jobs lobbied against price rises at the iTunes Store. He lobbied against DRM. It was the labels that were the enemy here. And how can someone who creates the iPod, which has enriched more lives than any other twenty first century product, be the oppressor?

I'm sure Steve's got the best medical care. Miracles happen every day. Maybe a miracle is not even required here. I hope this is a blip on the radar screen. That he can come back and keep pushing the envelope. Because if he's gone he'll be sorely missed. There will be a hole in the collective consciousness no one can fill. It will be like one of those great teen songs, where the lover dies and the singer just can't move on.

But we must. And we will. But it won't be the same.

No one is passionate about Windows. Most people can't even remember the name of the guy that started AOL. But everybody knows Steve Jobs. Who made it through his work. Not the trappings, but excellent product. He knew when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. The famous "1984" Super Bowl ad only appeared once. Take that all you stars whoring out your product. Steve never caved in. He created a reign of excellence at Pixar that William Goldman and the other Hollywood seers said was impossible. The animation house is nine for nine. Let's hope Steve's got the same success ratio with the medical problems he's now facing.