Steve Jobs Vigil at NYC Apple Store: 'I Feel Like I Lost a Personal Friend'

The Future

The long view of Steve Jobs' legacy depends on how Apple's newer innovations fare in the long term. It's fair to say that the iPad has both defined and dominated the tablet computer space. But it's not yet clear what impact tablets will have on the future of digital music. It could just be a bridge between the cloud and the in-home entertainment system. Or, it could become the album gatefold of the 21st century - time will tell.

There's also AppleTV. Today, that's just a device that connects television sets to the Internet and the internal home network to do things like stream movies from iTunes, music and engage in other media. Rumors have been swirling for months that Apple is working on an actual TV set of its own, one that would take all the functionality provided by the AppleTV bridge and add all manner of new features and capabilities. But so far we've not seen anything official.

And then there's iCloud--Apple's first foray into a streaming-like environment for music. Today, iCloud is simply a music locker that makes it easy to stream purchased music onto any Apple device. Tomorrow, it could evolve to a full-blown music subscription service, the kind Jobs consistently insisted music fans don't want.

Steve Jobs may be gone, but his shadow in which the music industry still lives remains in full force. To say the Steve Jobs era in digital music is over just because the man himself has passed on and a new CEO now runs the company is completely shortsighted. This will remain a business shaped by Jobs' vision, passion and talent for decades to come. How many more years is impossible to predict, just as was his unlikely ascension to the digital-music throne.

He will be missed. He will be remembered. But he will never be replaced, and he may never be equaled.