Who will be the next Steve Jobs?

Apple fans worldwide are mourning the death of tech visionary Steve Jobs. 

Flags have been lowered to half-staff at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, as employees place flowers around a white iPad with a picture of the Apple co-founder.

Mourners also held impromptu vigils outside a number of Apple stores, while Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and President Obama offered their condolences.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Gates said that it was an “insanely great honor” to have been lucky enough to work with Jobs, as “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.”

Indeed, the passing of Steve Jobs prompted many journalists and analysts to ask if anyone will be capable of replacing the popular CEO in global tech culture.

For example, veteran tech journalist Tom Foremski wrote that Steve Jobs wasn’t simply about luck, but rather, consistent success, and should be considered Silicon Valley’s own Babe Ruth.

“While it’s unlikely that Silicon Valley can produce another Steve Jobs, we should by now have quite a few new leaders. But where are the Larry Ellisons, Scott McNealys, Andy Groves [and] Bill Gateses?” Formeski asked rhetorically in an article posted on Silicon Valley Watcher

“[Sure], we have Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Max Levchin… Maybe, time will tell as it did with Steve Jobs, but it seems to me that there’s a very small pool of potential standout leaders compared with 20 years ago.”

According to Foremski, people are inspired and motivated by individuals – not by products or senseless spin. 

“[Unfortunately], we lack a new generation of leaders capable of evangelizing a brave new world where technology and society combine to produce something truly wonderful,” he opined.

Kara Swisher of AllThingsD expressed similar sentiments, stating that “at this moment, there is no one leader to fill Jobs’s outsized shoes.”

“I could go on and not get to anyone even slightly close – there’s no one with the kind of charisma that makes it impossible to look away. 

“It’s called inspiration, a quality so lacking in all parts of this world, making it hard to imagine any replacement for Jobs. And, in a way, why should we try to find one?”

Walt Mossberg, a longtime friend of Jobs, concurred. 

“[Steve] was a historical figure on the scale of a Thomas Edison or a Henry Ford, and set the mold for many other corporate leaders in many other industries… He insisted on the highest product quality and on building things to delight and empower actual users, not intermediaries like corporate IT directors or wireless carriers. And he could sell. Man, he could sell.”