Edison or Einstein? As US business leaders argue about the relative worth of Steve Jobs and his place in the pantheon, I would argue that his genius was as a marketer and salesman, not as an inventor.
True, he insisted on the importance of design and ease of use. But nothing he produced was groundbreaking, it was just better conceived and better looking than anything else on the market.
And it was better sold. He was the PT Barnum of our age. It was the great US circus promoter who said: "Without promotion something terrible happens … nothing." I wouldn't be writing this comment piece if Mr Jobs hadn't been such a huckster. He created such a hype over the launch of his latest gadget editors all swooned and insisted on acres of coverage.
Did Sony and Samsung get the same treatment when they launched their tablets? No, because a company needs a face and he was Mr Apple. Who is behind rival electronic companies except faceless nerds and marketing departments? Will we be writing their obituaries in every section of the paper?
Mr Jobs' gift was to convince everyone his company was the outlaw, the cool kid in the class compared to the ugly bully Microsoft. That is partly because for all the billions he gives away to the Third World, Bill Gates will always remain a nerd with a bad haircut. Mr Jobs was the Steve McQueen of technology, with everything but Ali McGraw.
While we were dazzled by his wizardry and black polo necks, Apple had become the biggest company in the world by market capital. It managed to get a stranglehold on music delivery and helped create a myriad of applications that you can use only on an iPhone.
Apple may be exposed as an evil empire using cheap Chinese labour once everyone realises Tim Cook, the new chief executive, is a logistics man and not a magician.
Everyone is racing to say Apple will survive Mr Jobs' untimely demise without a tremor. They are poor students of history. They argue other companies have survived the death of their founders, such as Ford and Chanel. But Ford had a family driving the company forward after his death, while Chanel floundered until it was revived by Karl Lagerfeld in the 1980s. Technology companies cannot stand still, nor do I think nowadays they could withstand something like the Edsel debacle. Despite spending US$400 million (Dh1.46 billion) on its development and launch, the car was a spectacular lemon and Ford took a while to recover from its failure.
One botched product launch and Apple will be sunk.
"If I shoot at the sun I may hit a star," said PT Barnum. Mr Jobs certainly aimed for the sky. I fear his successors will be more terrestrial. The poetry will turn to prose.