Steve Jobs, Co-founder of global tech business Apple and the inspiration behind leading products such as the iPhone and iPad, has died at the age of 56.
Tributes for the entrepreneur poured in from world leaders and industry rivals alike, with US President Barack Obama saying “the world has lost a visionary” and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer calling him “one of the founders of our industry”.
Having started Apple in the late 1970s along with Steve Wozniak, Jobs left the company in 1985 after a boardroom battle for power but his return in 1997 saw him become CEO and heralded a period of extraordinary success.
Apple products to have appeared on the market during Jobs’ tenure include the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad, with the latter two currently helping to revolutionise the way consumers shop for products across the world.
Popularity of such products helped Apple become, for a brief period at least, the most valuable company in the US earlier this summer.
On Wednesday the company unveiled another new model, the iPhone 4S, which features various innovative functions, ahead of the launch of the even more technologically-advanced iPhone 5 smartphone expected in the next 18 months.
It was the first new product announcement from Apple since Jobs officially resigned as CEO in August, handing over control of the company to Tim Cook.
At the start of this year Jobs took medical leave from the business and revealed in the summer that he “could no longer meet his duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO”. His pancreatic cancer, which was first revealed in 2004, and subsequent health problems following a liver transplant in 2009, finally took his life last night.
A statement released by Apple’s board of directors last night said: “We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.
“Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.
“His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.”
Innovative product launches overseen by Jobs have changed the way consumers and businesses function.
The tablet market, in which Apple’s iPad is a market leader, is one of the fastest growing technology sectors, and retailers across the world have been keen to identify ways in which they can interact with shoppers through this platform.
Meanwhile the increasing ubiquity of smartphones, driven by the popularity of Apple’s iPhone, has helped create a new mobile and information-heavy shopper who can purchase goods on the go.
President Obama said: “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.