Media People Architect of a New Order

Steve Jobs. Apple visionary Steve Jobs saw a single device as a hub for accessing the whole media landscape. His giant stride toward this digital future was the iPad tablet—light, portable, and capable of tapping into news, music, video —everything the traditional media did separately but all in one device.

Everybody knew in the 1990s that computer technology would transform the mass media. But it was the late Steve Jobs who most clearly saw the future. Jobs, the driving force behind Apple, reinvented three floundering media industries: music, movies, and the mobile telephone industry. Incredible as it seems, the corporate leaders of the music, movie, and mobile telephone industries were so comfortable with the status quo that in some respects they were blindsided by the dramatic changes in the marketplace, including rapidly changing consumer demands

Jobs, however, was unencumbered by the blinders of tradition. To Jobs, the future was a new media-centric digital lifestyle. His Apple inventions included the handheld iPod music player and the online iTunes music retail site, introduced in 2001 and 2002. The iPod–iTunes combo slowed the recorded music industry’s decline. Then, new iPod models came with new capabilities, including video. In 2007,the iPhone, which integrated a mobile telephone, an audio and video player, and an Internet browser in a single device, provided consumers with a personal computer they could hold in their

hand.

People loved Apple’s devices, which propelled Apple into notoriety after a long period of financial instability. Fortune magazine tapped Jobs as the top chief executive for the first decade of the 21st century.

So who was this Steve Jobs?

Jobs and his friend, Steve Wozniak, barely in their 20s, were pioneers in the early days of personal computers. While working in a garage, they created a revolutionary personal computer. They founded Apple in 1976, and despite their initial success, the road forward was a rocky one. Some products took off, and others backfired. Wozniak ultimately left the company, and Jobs was fired by investors who took over the company amid personal infighting and a lack of consensus on the company’s vision. In 1997, a dozen years after being fired, Apple got Jobs back when it bought his company Next. He took drastic steps to get the company back on its feet after a dizzying series of unfocused missteps in his absence.

In 2001, within a few months of his return, Apple rolled out the iTunes software, a new operating system called Mac OS X, the first Apple retail store, and the first iPod. These all were building blocks to something bigger, but only Jobs and his confidants knew where it was headed. He did drop a hint though. In a 2002 interview with Time magazine, Jobs shared: “We’re the only company that owns the whole widget—the hardware, the software, and the operating system.” Jobs talked about having “full responsibility for the user experience.”

One endearing asset of Apple products for consumers was a magical aura flowing from Jobs’ obsession with detail and design. In 2010 Apple launched the iPad, a 1- 1/2-pound tablet as a platform for audio and visual media, such as books, periodicals, movies, music, and games, as well as web content. The iPad, as envisioned by Apple, became the hub of a digital lifestyle.

What does all this mean? Apple products didn’t just give people access to powerful technology—they enabled people to integrate the access to powerful technology into their ordinary lives. Jobs called it the “digital hub” concept—a digital lifestyle. No longer is it easy to delineate the music industry and the movie industry and the book industry and the news industry. It’s all becoming one—with Jobs’ Apple stamp on the leading products.

Writing Prompt

Applying Your Media Literacy—Jobs Historical Model

What are some of the newest examples of the digital lifestyle?

The response entered here will appear in the performance dashboard and can be viewed by your instructor.

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