Kara Swisher

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Now What?  The Post-Jobs Era in Tech.

As Steve Jobs famously said to rival Bill Gates of Microsoft in a joint interview with Walt Mossberg and me in 2007, “You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.” And perhaps what is most amazing about Jobs was his longevity.

Not in life, of course, which was cut tragically short at 56 years, with his last years focused a lot on the cancer that would ultimately defeat him.

Actually, by longevity, I mean how the iconic entrepreneur continued, until the very end, to have an enormous impact over all of technology and especially in Silicon Valley.

It is easy to see that Jobs has been the single consistent tech tastemaker and true-north icon — even in the frantically changing, what’s-new-is-best atmosphere that too often prevails in the industry.

The list of tech and media arenas he changed via innovative thinking and, more importantly, action, is long — from graphics to design to touchscreens to smartphones to tablets to animation to ease of use to apps to quality to, well, you get the idea.

The hits seemed nonstop: The Macintosh. The iPod. And iTunes. The MacBook. The iPhone. The iPad.

And it is no stretch to say that even the brightest lights in tech and media always watched what he did and were influenced by him, reacted to him, changed because he changed.

In many ways, it was because Jobs never seemed to waver.

Let’s be clear, this is not an easy thing to do, to keep sailing on your own course, often against the prevailing winds, and not be swayed.

Perhaps that is the thing that Jobs most exemplified — a stubborn unwillingness to adjust who he was, maintaining an integrity of purpose and vision when others could not.

It is certainly what has made him — and by extension, Apple — so special. Of course, it is not that he was not difficult, capricious and cutting at times. But even that he owned.

So who and what does tech look to now for that kind of inspiration?

Certainly, at this moment, there is no one leader to fill Jobs’s outsized shoes.

The founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin? Quirky, curious, arrogant, but so, so prosaic.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg? Still forming, so awkward and not yet the leader he might become.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon? Certainly creative and bold, but utterly lacking in the moxie and style of Steve.

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?

As Jobs himself said in his memorable “Stay hungry. Stay foolish” speech at Stanford University, right after he recovered from his first bout with cancer:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No reason at all. So, as we all wish Jobs could have done, let’s live on.

And so will Steve Jobs. As AllThingsD Web guru Adam Tow said about the innovative Siri voice control feature in the latest iPhone 4 — introduced earlier this week without Jobs being there to present — perhaps Siri stands for: Steve is right inside.

Yes, indeed. Because his DNA lives in all of Apple. And, of course, in Silicon Valley and in tech, forever and always.

But we move on, too, so here is a video I did yesterday with WSJ.com on what impact Jobs’s death may have on Apple and whether the company will remain an innovator and market leader:

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google