Steve Jobs died today at the age of 56. That’s not normally the kind of thing I’d be writing about on a U2-related website, except for the fact that Steve Jobs transformed the music industry and U2 had a big hand in it.
The photo above, you surely know, was taken during the launch of the U2 iPod in October 2004. That announcement was greeted mostly with excitement in U2 fandom, but there were plenty of loud voices upset that U2 had “sold out.” In promoting the U2 iPod on TV, Edge explained it this way:
…our position on sponsorship hasn’t changed, it’s always been that we do not sell our reputation or our fans’ regard for our work to anybody. But this is a different thing, this is a technology partnership. Because we’re in business with our record labels, we’re in business with our merchandising companies, and we’re now in business with Apple.
The iPod announcement also included the first “digital box set” in music history — The Complete U2, a 400+-song collection of downloadable tracks.
There was also a two-song live performance during Jobs’ presentation: Bono & Edge sang “Original Of The Species” and “All Because Of You.” Our friend Firas captured it from the front row and you can watch it on YouTube:
A couple weeks before the iPod announcement/event, Apple released a new commercial for its iTunes Music Store that featured U2’s new single, “Vertigo.” It’s not a stretch to say that the popularity of this commercial helped How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb sell more copies in its first week than any other U2 album (before or since).
But all of that wasn’t actually U2’s first involvement with Steve Jobs and Apple: The year before, when Jobs introduced iTuned for Windows, Bono appeared on the big video screen during Jobs’ presentation using Apple’s iSight and iChat products and called Jobs “the Dalai Lama of integration.”
More recently, there was speculation that the U2-Apple relationship had soured after U2 accepted a Blackberry sponsorship for the U2 360 tour. But just last month, Bono defended Jobs when news reports suggested that Jobs hadn’t been a strong philanthropist. Bono reminded everyone that Jobs threw his support behind Product (RED) years ago with the launch of a (RED) iPod Nano.
And in the famous words of Steve Jobs … one more thing: Many years ago, Bono bought a NYC apartment from Steve Jobs.
It’s a pretty strong connection between U2/Bono and Apple/Steve Jobs. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Bono has something to say about Jobs’ death.
UPDATE: As expected, Bono has paid respects to Steve Jobs:
What made Steve Jobs truly great is that he was only interested in doing truly great things. He was bored by an easy ride or easy profit. In a world littered with dull objects, he brought the beauty of clean lines and clear thought.