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Apple?s Steve Jobs, leader of the post-PC world, enters Mobile Hall of Fame

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has entered the Mobile Hall of Fame for leading the way into the post-PC world with his iPhone, iPad and iPod devices, iAd mobile ad network and iTunes, iBooks, Apple App Store and retail stores.

The mobile industry?s ? and Mobile Marketer?s ? most prestigious honor was bestowed on Mr. Jobs for the mark he has made on computing, communications, commerce, content, education, gaming and marketing through brilliant leadership, anticipation of customer needs, focus on detail, remarkable foresight, supreme confidence and dogged perseverance. Where he reshaped computing with a focus on creative tools, Mr. Jobs is now set on using mobile to redefine how consumers live, work and play.

?Mobile is key to the post-PC world,? Mr. Jobs told the audience March 2 when he unveiled the iPad 2 tablet at Apple?s Cupertino, CA-based headquarters.

?We?re in the position now where the majority of our revenue comes from post-PC products,? he said.

Billions served
In the three and a half years since he launched the first iPhone, more than 100 million devices have shipped, 350,000 apps created and billions of app downloads recorded.

The iPhone has more computing power than some laptops made than a decade ago, allowing users to text, email, search, shop, play games, find directions, conduct business tasks on documents, listen to music, chat on social media, record video and video-chat, take photos, handle medical chores, read the news and play games. Users can also talk.

Similarly, the iPad?s debut has broken all records to arguably become the most successfully launched consumer product in the history of mankind.

From launch in April through December, 15 million iPads sold worldwide, generating $9.5 billion in revenue. Today, an estimated 17 million iPads are in consumer hands, able to download 65,000 apps tailored for the tablet.

And despite the flurry of activity from the tablet world ? Samsung Galaxy, Research In Motion?s PlayBook, Motorola?s Xoom and products expected from Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Dell ? the Apple iPad still continues to have a commanding 90 percent share of that segment.

Sooner or later, Apple?s iPad will acquire qualities as sophisticated as its MacBook line of laptops and ? who knows ? might even cannibalize its own line of laptops to ensure the company?s dominance in computing.

On the advertising side, Mr. Jobs' last year snapped up mobile ad network Quattro Wireless to enter an industry that will support the growth of content on mobile devices. His bold play with the renamed iAd ad network? Insist on a minimum $1 million budget ? now lowered to $500,000 due to market realities ? to raise the bar for mobile advertising. 

While there are the usual grumbles-and-whines about the unfairness of this minimum and Apple's control over the creative process, it does the mobile industry a whole lot of good when advertisers begin treating mobile seriously and not as a chump-change play.  

Stored knowledge
Consider Apple?s digital stores.

The iTunes store redefined music retail. Indeed it is digital music retail, something that even the Beatles realized after holding out for years and then finally relenting last year to sell their songs on iTunes.

Today, iTunes has more than 200 million accounts with credit card details and 1-click purchase functionality. It has even more customer accounts than Amazon?s database ? the world?s No. 1 online retailer.

The newly launched iBooks store just signed on its sixth major U.S. publisher in Random House, the world?s No. 1 English-language producer of books. Is there any doubt that iBooks is set on a course to become the world?s largest digital bookstore?

And then there is the legendary App Store ? the heavily curated, tightly guarded walled garden that Mr. Jobs envisions as a parallel Internet. Whether apps have a long-term future is a matter of debate, but there is no doubt that they serve a purpose and are recognized for adding value to the mobile experience.

Showcasing all of these products in an elegant environment is another critical component of Apple?s strategy under Mr. Jobs.

Walk into any Apple retail store and marvel at the layout, the blond wood, the lighting, the patented translucent staircase, the men and women in blue eager to help lost shoppers.

Admire the fact that Apple encourages store visitors to linger and play with products and check email. Indeed, Apple stores are arguably the No. 1 spot where consumers check email outside of home, office and personal devices.

It is a marvel ? and a puzzle ? why most retailers have not copied Apple?s approach of employing evangelists as salespeople and bringing checkout to customers and not vice versa through handheld cash registers.

The goal, it would seem, with Apple stores is not to sell, but to educate; not to talk, but to dialogue; not to rush the experience, but to savor every moment spent indoors in Mr. Jobs? universe.

Even Mr. Jobs acknowledged the key role that stores played in product strategy.

?Without those stores, I don?t think we?d be successful, either,? Mr. Jobs told audience members at the iPad 2?s launch.

To top it all, Apple?s marketing is without compare ? from clean-lined packaging to advertising that creates burning desire, from an eye-pleasing typeface to a soothing grey color, from television ads that boast not of the technology but of its many uses.

For all of these reasons, Mr. Jobs deserves to become the first member of the Mobile Hall of Fame, an award for executives who have used mobile to influence and shape the future of life at work, home and play. In those tasks, Mr. Jobs will be remembered by not just this generation but many to come.

Here?s why
So what redeeming features of Mr. Jobs? leadership made him a natural Mobile Hall of Famer? Here are some that stand out:

Focus: Mr. Jobs never takes his eye off the ball. Once he sets his sights on a product or service idea, he and his team pull through right from conception to market launch. He is not easily distracted.

Quality control: A bigger fanatic there is not. Mr. Jobs is well-known for his insistence that everything be just right, from the look and feel to weight to customer experience and product packaging.

The product has to meet the highest standards. See how lovingly the top brass at Apple describe each new product launched in videos on Apple.com. Imagine if all Apple rival products were given the same tender loving care.

Leading, not following: Indeed, Mr. Jobs is known for setting the agenda and standards, rather than reacting. In that approach, he shares something in common with auto pioneer Henry Ford, who is once known to have said, ?If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.?

The fiesty Mr. Jobs, with his initial insistence on a $1 million minimum budget for ads running on Apple's iAd mobile network, has again set the bar high for mobile advertising. His chutzpah could benefit an entire industry and has forced CEOs and chief marketing officers to treat mobile advertising with more respect.

Brilliant marketing and packaging: For a man who sounds as shrill as he does, it is remarkable how Mr. Jobs has consistently developed marketing and packaging that creates desire ? no, lust ? from near or far.

See the packaging for any iPad, iPhone or iPod or even the new MacBook Air. Even the boxes are pieces of art. And the print ads: the typography, spare imagery and use of white space pack a punch. The TV spots invariably capture slices of life at its best ? enabled by the iPhone, iPad or iPod.

Master of the launch: It can seem devious to some, this drip-drip of news and tidbits seemingly leaked to Apple diehards and media, but there is no denying this: Apple is the Master of the Launch and Mr. Jobs the Grandmaster.

Just see the buildup to any new Apple product, the sense of anticipation, the creeping desire to buy or upgrade. And then the man in the black mock turtleneck and blue jeans walks in to helm what is known as a "special event" ? and voila, it is Apple magic all over again. Time and time again, Mr. Jobs is the Houdini who unshackles convention with ease and to applause.

Add to that the obligatory videos on the Apple site introducing the new mobile or non-mobile product in the warmest ? and most disarming ? tones possible. It is marketing seduction at its best. See the March 2, 2011 video of Mr. Jobs introducing the iPad 2 at the Apple headquarters or the online demo for the same product.

Keep it simple, stupid: Mr. Jobs boils everything down to its essence. One on-off button, one swipe, all touch screen. Apple mobile devices are plug and play. The instruction manual is a booklet questioning its presence.

Mr. Jobs understands consumer psychology like no other CEO in recent history. Consumers want to know how to turn the key in the car, not how the combustion engine works.

Chasing segments that matter: Mr. Jobs? Apple has never been about the mass play.

In catering to a certain upmarket, creative or tech-savvy segment, he also roped in the masses without seeming like catering to them. How else to explain the fat profit margins on each Apple mobile product ? anywhere from 25 percent to 50 percent ? other than knowing which market has the most potential?

Not discounting more than necessary: To discount often is to devalue the brand. How often do consumers see discounts at Apple stores online, offline or on mobile? Mr. Jobs gets that premium pricing requires a certain dignity in the marketplace.

Retail store: Mr. Jobs is known to have taken a personal interest in the design of each Apple store. It is less a store and more a town square for Apple enthusiasts and those who want to buy in to the Apple dream and hang out. Each store is a case study in visual desire and customer service.

Evangelists, not salespersons: Under Mr. Jobs? direction, Apple staff serve more as evangelists and diehard users of the product rather than salespeople peddling product. They understand customer issues because they are customers themselves who have bought into the Apple myth ? or reality, whichever way people might want to look at it.

Control the message: How often do consumers see Apple executives other than Mr. Jobs and his No. 2, Tim Cook, quoted in the media? Not too often, right? That is Mr. Jobs at work. Control the message before the message controls you.

The Apple organization?s discipline is legendary and what might seem inflexible to some is maintaining the brand?s essence at all times from concept to sales to others.

Redefining categories: Mr. Jobs will go down in history for redefining categories with hardware and software: the iPhone in phones, iPods in music, iPads in tablets, iTunes for music, Apple App Store for apps and iBooks for books.

Through the use of technology, Mr. Jobs has redefined music, entertainment, publishing, retail, education and gaming. In each case, he has made products or services easier to consume.

Creating and controlling the ecosystem: If nothing else, Mr. Jobs has to be marveled at how he has created and controlled all components of the ecosystem in which Apple operates: hardware, software, content, commerce and marketing.

The Apple world is self-contained, allowing few outside variables to upset the cart other than a product like, say, Apple TV that bombed because it was neither fish nor fowl.

SINGING HOSANNAS is not in the nature of this publication. But it is time that Mobile Marketer and the world at large acknowledge that Steve Jobs? lasting legacy is how one man?s dogged attention to detail, sense of perfection and bet on mobile shaped and influenced hundreds of millions of lives at work, play and home.

It is with pleasure that we salute Mr. Jobs through to the Mobile Hall of Fame.