Steve Jobs – the greatest Product Manager ever?

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It’s a sad day for the technology world today with the news that Steve Jobs passed away last night, finally succumbing to the pancreatic cancer which has plagued him over the last several years.

I wrote a post yesterday trying to define a Product Manager, and sparked quite a debate. There probably is no one single definition, generalisations being what they are, but this morning it struck me that there is one easy description, one easy example to give friends, family and colleagues who don’t understand what we do – Steve Jobs is a product manager. Possibly the greatest ever.

Not only has he brought six (count them – Apple II, Macintosh, Pixar, iPod, iPhone and iPad) revolutionary products to market, he changed those markets for ever, built a retail empire and brought about one of the greatest corporate turnarounds ever – bringing Apple to the brink of being the most valuable company in the world.

“The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.” — President Barack Obama

It is this unique mix of business, technology and design, what Steve Jobs himself called “the intersection of technology and liberal arts” that made him such a unique success. And this mix of skills is precisely what makes a great product manager. We can only hope to emulate some small part of his successes because of it.

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