Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs is dead at 56

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
Apple co-founder Jobs was one of those people who kept topping himself, writes veteran technology journalist Lee Gomes. Here's a look back through Jobs's life as entrepreneur, designer, and ultimately, icon.

Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs is dead at 56

Steve Jobs at an Apple Special event at the Yerba BuenaCenter for the Arts on March 2, 2011, in San Francisco. Jobs died on Oct. 5, 2011.

Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, 56, died today following a long battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Media reports say Jobs died peacefully surrounded by family and friends.

Jobs was adored, hated, admired, feared, lauded, laughed at, wildly successful and at times an abject failure. But no one can dispute that he was one of the most visionary and successful tech pioneers to ever come out of California's fertile Silicon Valley, if not the entire consumer electronics world.

That he was involved in innovations ranging from the dawn of the personal computer in the 1970s to the recent explosive growth in mobile devices and apps is unprecedented among his peers. And up to his recent retirement, Steve Job had a firm hand — some would say strong arm — in pursuit of the hardware and softwareadvances that hammered and confounded Apple's competition and also disrupted entire industries, ranging from the music business to wireless carriers.

Job's influence also extended to the auto industry. Perhaps no external devices — and one company — have had as much impact on car infotainment as Apple's iPod and iPhone. The iPod literally made CDs obsolete when it debuted a decade ago, and it soon became the default device for carrying music into the car. So much so that "iPod integration" became a focusfor almost every automaker and an important part of the car lexicon.

More recently with the iPhone, Apple once again changed the rules of the in-car infotainment game. A$2,000 in-dash navigation system? Why would drivers need that when they had Google Maps on their iPhone. And we're just starting to see the impact that apps, which Apple almost singlehandedly popularized, is having on automakers and their electronics strategy. And the Apple iPad is now putting the nail in the coffin of expensive rear-entertainment systems

It's been said that Apple could give a damn about the car, and automakers and suppliers have related stories about how difficult it can be to work with the Apple crew in Cupertino, California. Following the lead of the icon that ran the company over its heady past decade, Apple did what it wanted to do, the rest of the world be damned.

The company and Jobs were able to get away with it —and make billions — because they consistently delivered great products that consumers snapped up. No matter that they were priced higher than those of competitors.

The auto industry could learn a lot from Apple and particularly Steve Jobs.

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