Apple Inc. fans worldwide mourned the death of co-founder Steve Jobs, paying tribute to the man who changed the way they listen to music, use their mobile phones and play on their computers.
At Apple’s headquarters — located at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California — flags flew at half-staff and bagpipes sounded to the tune of “Amazing Grace” as people placed flowers around a white iPad with a picture of Jobs, who died yesterday at 56, after a battle with cancer. Mourners flocked to Apple stores from New York to Hong Kong, while a crowd gathered in San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Park for an iPhone-lit vigil.
“Part of the narrative that made Apple what it is today goes out with Steve Jobs,” said Christopher Smith, 40, a former business development manager in San Francisco who joined the vigil. “I came out to honor the fact that one man with vision, courage and unwavering dedication can still change the world. The way that I communicate and the way that I interact with the world is through things that Steve jobs has created.”
Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Sony Corp. Chairman Howard Stringer were among business leaders who expressed admiration for the man who built the world’s most valuable technology company. President Barack Obama also issued statements of sympathy and remembrance.
“Michelle and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Jobs,” Obama said in a statement. “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.”
Teary-eyed mourners left flowers in front of Jobs’s modest home at the corner of Waverly Street and Santa Rita Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Neighborhood children drew hearts with markers and left them on the ground for others to leave messages. Policemen stood watch, barricading the street.
“Here’s a guy who’s a billionaire and lives in a regular neighborhood, not behind a gated estate with all the security guards,” said Bruce Gee, a former Apple employee who drove up to the house from his home a couple miles away. “On Halloween, people go trick or treating there like everyone else.”
At the San Francisco Apple store near Union Square, Steve Streza, 24, stood holding an iPad displaying Apple’s homepage image of Jobs and the words “Steve Jobs: 1955-2011.”
“Macs were the reason I got into product development,” said Streza, a developer at readitlater.com who grew up with Mac computers. “If it weren’t for Steve Jobs and Macs, my life would probably be in a completely different place right now.”
Steve Somerstein, who says he met Jobs several times since 1986, recalled the time when he bumped into Jobs while apartment hunting in Palo Alto.
“He was just a regular guy,” said Somerstein, who was at the Palo Alto store. “I congratulated him on the company and hoped it was going to do well. I didn’t even own an Apple at that point. He was about 10 years younger than me and just a nice kid.”
Ron Kent, a food-truck owner who was at the Palo Alto store, likened Jobs to Michelangelo, the renaissance-era artist who painted the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
“He’s the visionary of our time,” Kent said.
‘RIP Steve Jobs’
Some mourned via social media sites. More than 20 “RIP Steve Jobs” pages sprung up on Facebook within hours of the announced passing of Jobs. News of Jobs’s death slowed the mobile websites of CNN and the Washington Post, according to Keynote Systems Inc., which tracks website performance.
“Steve Jobs,” the biography written by former Time magazine editor Walter Isaacson, scheduled for release Nov. 21, was the best seller on Amazon.com Inc.’s website.
In New York, Jared and Alexi Roth, 33 and 31, left two red apples by the wall outside the Apple store on Broadway in the Upper West Side.
“We were literally walking by a market on Broadway when Jared got a text saying Steve Jobs died,” Alexi said. “We saw the apples and just thought it would be appropriate.”
Across the ocean, Charanis Chiu, walked in front of the Apple store in Hong Kong to place a sunflower, the logo of the photo-viewing application on the iPhone.
“A lot of companies such as Microsoft and Nokia are following in his direction,” said Chiu, a vendor of photographic equipment. “Apple will continue to grow as long as they are going in the right direction.”
Microsoft’s Gates praised the man who for decades was both a rival and a partner in the personal-computer industry.
‘Insanely Great Honor’
“The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come,” Gates said. “For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor. I will miss Steve immensely.”
Stephen Elop, chief executive officer of Nokia Oyj, said the world lost a “true visionary” in Jobs’s passing.
“The world thinks the company is all about Steve but in reality, they’ve got the culture,” said Russell Irving, 60, a management consultant in Sydney. “He has given them that culture and that’s his legacy.”
Sachio Kitagawa, 45, was on her way with her son to the Apple store in the Ginza shopping district of Tokyo when she heard the news of Jobs’s passing.
“He should receive the Nobel prize,” said Kitagawa, who’s used Apple products for 20 years. “I have a second child who is disabled and even he can use the Macintosh. It shows you how user-friendly Apple products are. What a real pity he passed away.”
At the Apple store in Lujiazui district in Shanghai, an area of about three square meters was set aside at the front for people to pay tribute to Jobs. One fan printed out Jobs’s picture on Apple’s website, along with a bouquet of the flowers held together by a ribbon that read “Thank You.”
“I am not too sure about the company’s future without Steve,” said Lucy Guo, 26, a mathematics teacher at a high school in Shanghai. “I thought it was a joke when I saw the news about Steve’s passing this morning. I am so shocked and sad.”
In Singapore, Georgina Koh, 30, recalled the man who inspired her to open her own accessory shop.
“The world should remember Steve Jobs’s famous quote ‘Stay Hungry, Stay foolish,’” said Koh, a former Apple worker, in reference to Jobs’s Stanford University commencement speech in 2005. “It’s an honor to have been associated with Apple. It is a company built by a man relentless about creating beautiful products that have changed our lives.”
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