Execs, fans mourn loss of digital visionary, friend

The enormity of Steve Jobs’ impact on entertainment, culture and business was underscored a day after his death by the steady outpouring of tributes, from business leaders, politicians and in particular the media moguls whose content his innovative devices distributed to hundreds of millions around the world.

Tweets about Jobs filled the air all day: from Mick Jagger, Michael Moore and Paris Hilton, to Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg and Richard Branson, to thousands of regular folks. “Steve Jobs was an amazing man. He will live in my hard drive forever!” wrote Jim Carrey.

Jobs was hailed for being a driving force in the consumer electronics revolution that has changed the face of showbiz, from behind-the-scenes production tools to the distribution potential of the iPad.

For many, he defined how they listen to music, navigate the Web, and explore and communicate in the modern world.

Through his relationship with Pixar, Jobs was most closely linked with Disney among the entertainment majors, as its single-largest individual shareholder and as a member of the its board of directors. There won’t be any decision on replacing him on the Disney board until the company’s annual meeting in March.

The visionary executive, creator and global trend maker died of pancreatic cancer after fighting the illness valiantly for eight years. He took a medical leave last January and stepped down as CEO in August.

Apple has been bracing for this day. So has Wall Street. It’s still not clear whether Tim Cook, Steve Jobs’ handpicked successor who assumed the CEO role six weeks ago, will be able to step into the founder’s shoes, let alone fill them. But the company’s share price stayed firm Wednesday before closing only slightly lower, off 0.23% at $377.37.

That may be a vote of confidence in the road ahead. “We believe Apple’s innovation and product momentum can continue,” Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes wrote in a note to clients.

Apple shares, with ups and downs, including a dip after Jobs’ last medical leave, have had a generally glorious run. They’ve roughly quadrupled in three years, from Oct. 6, 2008, when they closed at $96.80.

That’s a period when many other companies and their stocks, media and tech included, were socked by a global economic recession. Not Apple. The iPhone had arrived in 2007, ushering in a tsunami of sales that continues through its various iterations. The iPad came in 2010. Jobs’ genius for business combined magically with his talent for show as he worked the stage each year at Apple’s annual convention in trademark black turtleneck and jeans, whipping the company’s latest creation out of his pocket.

In the business realm, Jobs more than any other figure in modern times epitomized the superstar CEO — synonymous with his company and revered for his success in business and as an innovator. At times his push to keep Apple in the vanguard of digital distribution challenged Hollywood’s traditional practices, but he never lost the respect and admiration of showbiz’s top honchos.

Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes said: “The world is a better place because of Steve, and the stories our company tells have been made richer by the products he created. He was a dynamic and fearless competitor, collaborator and friend. In a society that has seen incredible technological innovation during our lifetimes, Steve may be the one true icon whose legacy will be remembered for a thousand years.”

Said News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch: “Today, we lost one of the most influential thinkers, creators and entrepreneurs of all time. Steve Jobs was simply the greatest CEO of his generation. While I am deeply saddened by his passing, I’m reminded of the stunning impact he had in revolutionizing the way people consume media and entertainment.”

Sony chairman-CEO Howard Stringer said: “The digital age has lost its leading light, but Steve’s innovation and creativity will inspire dreamers and thinkers for generations.” Fans paid homage to Jobs around the global blogosphere and lined Apple stores in New York with candles, photos, notes, flowers, and apples with one bite taken out.

Pre-orders of books on Jobs soared on Amazon.com. “Steve Jobs,” the authorized biography by Walter Issacson, originally due out Nov. 21, has become the site’s best-seller. Publisher Simon & Schuster on Thursday announced plans to move the publication date up to Oct. 24 as orders skyrocketed.

In an essay on Time magazine’s website published Thursday, Issacson said he was hesitant when Jobs initially asked him in 2004 to write his biography. “Because I assumed that he was still in the middle of an oscillating career that had many more ups and downs left, I demurred. ‘Not now, I said. Maybe in a decade or two, when you retire.’ But I later realized that he had called me just before he was going to be operated on for cancer for the first time.”

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