One man’s life is another man’s…profit?

As I was talking one night with one of my friends, he sent me a link to something I found to be very interesting. It was a geniunely inspirational commencement speech made by Steve Jobs celebrating with Standford’s Graduating Class of 2005 as they embarked on their next journey of life. I bet at that time it didn’t cross anyone’s mind that six years later, on October 5, 2011, that the brilliant mastermind behind the brand of Apple iPod would pass away.

For the sake of time, I followed my friend’s suggestion and read the last three paragraphs of his speech. There was power behind those words, but while I continued to think of his insightful advice, I started thinking about something else. It’s no mistake that Steve Jobs was a highly revered person in the technological and business world. If his ideas and images were so influential, then of course the death of this legendary man would also play a part in our topic of murketing.

When an ordinary person dies, only a small number of people know about it, right? Condolence cards and invitations to wakes are sent and the funeral comes and goes without much ado, the memory of the deceased held in the hearts of the individual’s closest friends and family. But what happened when Steve Jobs passed away? After a quick Google search following my curiosity, I found this: an influx of Steve Jobs memorabilia items on sell in less than 24 hours after his death and the advancement of certain special products.

Really guys, really? After all, this is a “Stop the Presses” moment.

Of course, putting his picture as the front cover of TIMES Magazine rather than, say, a deceased iPod (for symbolic imagery) or a different picture wouldn’t work as well to draw in the audience to buy the product. Created T-shirts, old magazine photos in magazines, and old figures have skyrocketed in price on sites like E-bay according to one website, DailyDot.com. Another one advises the public to beware of scams related to this. That aside, I’m sure other magazines such as TIMES, depicted the iconic image of Steve Jobs on their covers not just to pay tribute to the man himself, but to also use his influential presence to sell their own items to.

And what about Apple? Did his death have influence on the sales of the new iPhone 4S and iOS5? According to this article from PC World, there was some influence. How many people out there who didn’t consider getting the iPhone 4S got it just in Steve Jobs memory? I can’t answer that question. But I do know from some of my friends’ Facebook statuses, his death was a contributing factor. As the article noted “more than 4 million phones were sold in just 3 days”. The combination of marketing and planning, the initial release of the phone, his death, and the release of iOS5 have critics miffed by the remarkable sales. As Natatcha wrote on her Facebook status, “iphone 4S (iPhone 4 Steve).”

*Instead of an Apple “bite” it’s Steve Jobs profile.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Or maybe it is the iPhone 4 Steve. It’s just too murky for me to figure out so I’ll let you decide.

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