Steve JobsLet me start with a direct answer to the above question: in the short term and even in the medium to long term, I don’t believe that Steve Jobs’ leaving Apply will have any major effect on the Internet. Now, that’s a pretty sweeping statement and it needs some explaining, so, as is my signature line: here’s what you need to know.

I’m No MacHead, But…

I do own an iPhone, but not the latest model. I also used to own a 3rd generation iPod and I’ve even modded by Windows desktop to look a bit like a Macintosh desktop. However, I’m hardly what you would call an Apple fanboy.
Instead, I’m the sort of person who simply appreciates useful technology, which is why I added a launch bar to my Windows desktop ala Mac OSX (actually, a friend of mine who was fooling around with my computer was fooled into thinking it really was a Mac and he wanted to know how I’d managed to install the Mac OSX on my generic computer).

A True Visionary

I wanted to make that clear because I’m still going to sing the praises of Steve Jobs. Even though I’m no Apple fanboy, I do realize that Jobs revolutionized a number of industries. I still remember for example when I had a Rio MP3 player and how clunky it was. I also remember the first time I bought an iPod and appreciated the simplicity of it compared with most other MP3 players.
I also recently had the opportunity to play with an iPad at a local Apple store and finally understood the appeal of the thing, even though it’s way out of my price range right now. In short, Steve did revolutionize the music industry and the tablet PC industry.

But He Did Make Mistakes

However, Steve also came up with a number of other ideas however which didn’t do as well – Apple TV for example never caught on the way that many other Apple products did. The Macintosh is also in a very distant third place behind Windows and Linux on desktops, even if it does have a loyal fan base. So, while Jobs is definitely a true visionary, he’s not infallible and he can make mistakes (one of them was actually NeXT computer, which was beautiful but way ahead of its time and too expensive).

Why He Won’t Affect the Internet

Now, the reason that I don’t see Jobs’ leaving having much of an effect on the Internet is simply that he didn’t have much effect even when he was at the helm of Apple. With the possible exception of his almost paranoid refusal to consider flash on the iPhone or iPad, I don’t see that Jobs made that much of a difference to how the Internet was run.
And frankly, flash is still far more popular than HTML5, with most websites simply offering an iOS alternative rather than converting exclusively to HTML5, if they worry about iOS at all.

Bottom Line

If Steve had been healthy and able to continue at the helm of Apple for the next 20 years or so, it’s possible that we might have seen him influence the direction of the web. However, given that he didn’t initiate any major changes to the web on the scale of the iPod for music and the iPad for tablet PCs, I don’t see that his leaving Apple will make much difference.
Still, Steve, you’ll be missed. You were an inspiration for me and millions of other computer geeks all over the world for many years. I wish you the best of luck in your retirement and look forward to seeing what comes next from the minds you assembled at Apple.