In the week since he announced his resignation as Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs has been accorded the kind of demigod status that Americans bestow on a handful of their countrymen who invent and market goods that change lives. Jobs has been compared to a number of iconic innovators, but most tellingly to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
"Like Edison," wrote the New Yorker's Ken Auletta, Jobs "accomplished his imaginative feats without the crutch of survey results," because, like Edison, he was imagining products unlike any that had previously existed. "Like Ford" wrote The New York Times' Joe Nocera, who "built the first automobile the middle class could afford," Jobs brought out a line of inventions that Americans could buy even as their incomes flat-lined. With the mouse, the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes and pixel animation, Jobs has worked wonders for American consumers.
Of Apple's 47,000 people employed worldwide including designers, marketers, managers, supply-chain gurus and financial whizzes, 30,000 work in the US. It employs no US-based production workers. Which is why Steve Jobs' elevation to America's national pantheon is perhaps a bit premature.
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