The wave of emotion on the morning of October 6, 2011 could not have been more intense had Steve Jobs orchestrated it himself. Then again, in a way he did -- only this time the response was not to the introduction of a product, but to the summation of a life.
A common thread in the tsunami of eulogies following his death was that Steve Jobs changed our lives. It seemed only fitting that we go to our readers to try to bring a little more definition to exactly what it was that Steve Jobs did that changed us. So, we broke it down, product by product, innovation by innovation, and asked readers how much difference each one made in their lives.
In nearly every case, an overwhelming majority of readers said that Steve Jobs changed their lives at least somewhat, if not totally. One exception was the iPad, which a solid majority of 53.8 percent said changed their lives "not at all." But even here, many respondents commented that they liked their iPads, even if they weren't life-changing. Perhaps the best is yet to come.
The other outlier was the iCloud, which, granted, is still too new to evaluate. Many respondents predicted that the iCloud will change our lives, but we just don't know it yet.
The two Apple products deemed most affecting were the iPhone and the Macintosh itself -- which we put forward as a proxy for the operating system, covering everything from the original Mac to the MacBook Air. The iPhone and the Macintosh actually tied, with exactly 45.8 percent of respondents saying they "totally" changed their lives.
The iPod and iTunes were also neck-and-neck, which makes sense, although for both a plurality deemed the effect on their lives as only "somewhat." This is curious because arguably the iPod was the turning point for Apple and iTunes might well be the most innovative of Apple's innovations.
We also included elements of Apple's marketing in our survey. A significant number of respondents pointed out that Steve Jobs himself was really more of an innovator in marketing than an inventor of products. They make a good point: Steve Jobs was the alchemist who made magic out of a jumble of wires and transistors. He took what others created and made it his own ... and ours.
So, it's kind of interesting that Apple's marketing -- specifically its advertising and the Apple store -- both scored a bit low on the "life-changing" scale. Many said "it's only advertising" and "it's only a store." But as our readers are predominantly marketing types, many said both the ads and the stores were major influences in their careers.
It's also interesting that Apple advertising conjures up different memories for different people. For some it means the famous 1984 "Big Brother" ad. For others it's the "Think Different" campaign. Still others recall the dancing silhouettes of the iPod ads, and the "I'm a Mac" television commercials. How many other brands can claim so many different memorable ad campaigns?
We wrapped up this survey with two open-ended questions. The first was: what should Apple's next innovation be? Most were stumped, but there's definitely a market for an iCar. Some suggested Steve dropped it off on his way out: the iCloud.
We also asked if there's "another" Steve Jobs on the horizon. It's a ridiculous question, of course, but fun to think about. There was no real consensus. Perhaps it is best to believe, as one reader suggested, that there's "a little bit of Steve Jobs in all of us."