By now, nearly everyone who owns a computer, television set, or smartphone has heard that co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of his company. He will be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, and will take his place as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Apple.
He doesn’t have to worry about taking a salary cut. Apple only pays Steve Jobs a salary of one dollar a year. Of course, he does own a little bit of stock in his own company, over two billion dollars worth, along with about 4 billion dollars in Disney stock.
Jobs has led his company to be an industry leader in the computer revolution, as well as changing forever the way that Americans interact with technology and media. He has done so by always thinkingahead of the curve. He is also extraordinary at creating demand, and I mean real demand, not just the “supply and demand” kind, for Apple’s products.
He has also had an amazing, if lesser known, impact on higher education. Steve Jobs has traditionally been very open to cooperation with colleges and universities both in the development of new technologies and the ways in which they might be used academically. For instance, when Jobs gave a group of college staff early versions of the iPod to experiment with, the end result was iTunesU. This application allows users to add course audio and video files to their iPods or stream them over a wireless network. Students were also able to access any lecture notes that professors made available publicly.
With Jobs announced retirement, many in higher education are left wondering if the focus on and collaboration with college and university officials will continue. Many maintain that the focus on education won’t falter, if only for economical and market share reasons.
Macintosh computers, iPads, and iPhones have a highly devoted (some might even say slightly fanatical) pool of users. Many of these Apple lovers are college students. If the focus on education and products that easily lend themselves to the educational experience is lost, Apple risks losing an entire generation of users.
There is also the argument that, even though Jobs is not acting as C.E.O., he will still be a major voice in what direction Apple continues to take in his role as Chairman of the Board. All in all, it would be hard to imagine Apple distancing itself from higher education for any reason. When you think about it, the two have been “silent partners” for decades now.