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The Apple Decade

Steve Jobs
Getty Images
Steve Jobs

Apple has announced that Steve Jobs will give the keynote speech at the company's Worldwide Developers Conferenceon June 6.

We haven't seen a lot of Jobs since he took an indefinite medical leave in January.

He did make a surprise appearance in March to announce the iPad 2.

The month before, he was photographed next to the President(from behind) at a meeting at the White House with tech titans.

It's been an amazing decade for Apple and Steve Jobs. Talk about the funny business of changing fortunes. One has soared, the other has struggled.

Ten years ago this month, on May 15, 2001, the first Apple Store opened. Here is a video shot then of Jobs describing what the Apple retail experience will be like.

The most obvious change in ten years is Jobs' appearance. In 2001, he's the picture of health. In March, 2011, he's a man who appears to be in the fight of his life.

But to me, the most amazing thing about the 2001 video is not how much Jobs has changed, but how much Apple has changed. In the video, Jobs talks about iBooks, iMacs, G4s, "solutions" software, "The Genius Bar", and he shows off several titles for videogames, none of which I recall.

Here's what he's not talking about: the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. They didn't exist yet. The iPod would come first, six months later, in November 2001. Instead, in May that year, Jobs is showing off devices made by outside companies, like the "six MP3 players" the first Apple stores would carry.

Who knew what dramatic changes lay ahead? Maybe he did. Because for all that's changed in ten years, one thing has not. Steve Jobs is as passionate now as he was then, and he is as much of the face of Apple now as he was then, despite the "deep bench" we keep hearing about. If Jobs wasn't Apple, then news of his appearance next week wouldn't be...news.

Which has me wondering. Apple has changed so much in ten years. It has gone from bit player in personal computing to dominant force in digital devices. That was in large part due to Jobs. Ten years from now, where will Apple be? What will it be? And for those anxiously waiting for next week's speech, who will lead it?

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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