Oct. 5, 2012 at 9:48 AM ET
If we had a dollar for every time we've heard or read, "Steve Jobs never would have ..." (fill in the blank) in the past year, we might be able to afford a share of Apple stock. Maybe two.
In the year since the company's co-founder died, his name has never been invoked so often by so many who think they know what Jobs would or wouldn't do or approve, from releasing a not-fully-baked Apple Maps app to waiting six weeks to patch a large security hole. The practice is almost as arrogant and self-righteous as Jobs was. But it keeps his name alive, as if he's still part of the conversation.
And he is. Our fascination with the man described as a modern-day Thomas Edison by New Yorker writer Ken Auletta has not ebbed; if anything, it's grown larger with his passing, all too soon, at age 56.
SLIDESHOW: Remembering Steve Jobs - 1955-2011
On Friday, Apple paid tribute to Jobs on the front page of apple.com with a touching video montage of photos and sound bites.
"I hope that today everyone will reflect on his extraordinary life and the many ways he made the world a better place," CEO Tim Cook wrote of his former boss and mentor.
And as people continue to reflect on the life of Steve Jobs, their biggest challenge will be narrowing down the many ways to do so.
"Steve Jobs," Walter Isaacson's biography, hurried into print after Jobs died, became a best-selling book, the No. 1 book of 2011 on Amazon.com. Even now, the book is on Amazon's top 20 list for 2012 — in hardcover.
On Thursday, St. Martin's Press told the New York Times it has acquired the rights to a memoir by Chrisann Brennan, Jobs' high school girlfriend and mother of his daughter, oldest child, Lisa. The book is to be published next year.
At least two movies are in the works; one by an independent studio will star Ashton Kutcher as the mercurial CEO; another movie, based on Isaacson's biography, will be done by Sony Pictures, with a screenplay by "The Social Network" scribe (and "West Wing" creator) Aaron Sorkin.
Meanwhile, an artist created a new Steve Jobs figurine, crafted with a resin that allegedly contains pieces of trash taken from Jobs' home before his death. The intent was to protest poor conditions at Chinese factories often associated with the Apple manufacturing process, and the creation may debut on Oct. 13 in Los Angeles.
(That wasn't the only noted instance of someone stealing from Jobs' home. In July, a burglar broke into the Palo Alto residence and took more than $60,000 worth of jewelry and computer equipment. The burglar — who was unaware of the significance of the home he had hit — gave Jobs' own iPad to a friend of his, a professional clown, who was dismayed to learn the truth about his shiny new tablet. "I'm a big admirer of Steve Jobs," Kenny the Clown told us at the time.)
In a less controversial tribute, Hungary put up the first Steve Jobs statue and also issued memorial postage stamps in his honor.
President Barack Obama paid homage in this year's State of the Union speech, with Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, in attendance as a guest of honor. The president said the country needs to support innovators including "every risk taker or entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs."
The Recording Academy issued Jobs an honorary Grammy for helping to "create products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies and books."
In recent days, a cassette tape of Jobs' remarks at a 1983 design conference surfaced, and was put into digital form by Marcel Brown, who received the tape from one of his clients, and wanted to literally share it with the world. It's remarkable because we hear Jobs' vision for the iPad, the iTunes Store, the App Store, Siri — many years ahead of their time.
It also gives us a chance to hear something "new" in Jobs' own words, something only a relative few had heard until now.
The company Jobs co-founded continues to perform exceptionally well, despite initial concerns after Jobs' death. Its stock, which was around $378 after Jobs died Oct. 5, 2011, hit a record high of $700 last month. Despite nearly doubling in a year, however, some analysts, including one quoted in Forbes Thursday, question whether those "good times" are over.
That analyst, Jamie Townsend of TownHall Investment Research, cited a variety of reasons for recommending "avoid" when it comes to Apple stock — from a slowing smartphone market to the company not keeping its "edge in innovation" — adding that Jobs' death is "a contributing factor."
Longtime technology analyst Ross Rubin, of Reticle Research, told NBC News that the past year has offered "validation of something that was becoming clearer late in Jobs' life, that Apple's success was not due to a cult of personality, but rather the efforts of many talented employees, as is the case for all successful corporations at its scale."
Still, he says, "people are waiting for a new product line to see just how the company can bring innovation and disruption to a space in which it didn't compete prior to Jobs' involvement."
During 1985 to 1997, the years Jobs was exiled from Apple, the company may have introduced new products and entered new categories, but it didn't see any further unparalleled hits until Jobs returned, and spurred the creation of the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.
Since Jobs died, articles and speculation about "who will be the next Steve Jobs" have been almost as rampant as the "Steve Jobs never would have...." line. Both lines ring hollow. Even though people occasionally point to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg or Amazon's Jeff Bezos, the truth is that there isn't a next Steve Jobs — not now. Maybe there never will be.
That may be why so many of us are keenly aware of his absence, a year after his death, why we'll likely go see a movie about him, or even play a "lost" tape of him speaking, just to hear his voice. A year later, we still need some kind of connection to this famously troubled but always charismatic visionary, even though we know he is gone.