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Steve Jobs's Legacy - And The Next Tech War

In a few days Fast Company’s next magazine issue will begin arriving in newsstands and mailboxes. The issue has four different covers, and one of them features a picture of Steve Jobs. But this is not a commemorative obituary. In fact, the issue had already been printed at our plant when Jobs passed away.

Instead the magazine offers a forward-looking analysis of what’s next for Apple—and how it will be battling with America’s three other favorite tech companies: Amazon, Facebook, and Google. We’ve dubbed this coming clash "The Great Tech War of 2012."

These four companies are increasingly crossing into each others’ spheres. They are all creating mobile devices, all trying to exploit the social graph, all eyeing the ad business, and of course they all want to sell stuff. Their competition is provoking each to be more aggressive, more ambitious, and more innovative. They are now setting the agenda for wide swaths of the economy, from entertainment to media, communications to finance. CEOs who never thought of themselves as competing with Silicon Valley now find themselves forced to react to the latest initiatives out of Cupertino or Palo Alto or Mountain View or Seattle.

Our four covers feature Steve Jobs, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Larry Page, and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos. Why didn’t we put Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook on the cover? As the article explains, for the next couple of years at least, Apple will be executing a strategy put in place by Jobs. For the time being, whether you look backwards or forwards, Apple’s success depends on Jobs’s vision.

Steve Jobs has had an outsize impact on our culture. That is in part a reflection of the iconic products he has brought to our daily lives. But he has also been a symbol of hope: for what American business might achieve. At Fast Company, we’ve consciously tried to construct our media to deliver Apple-esque distinctiveness—much the same way businesspeople across the economy have sought to learn from Jobs’s success.

Competitors like Facebook, Google, and Amazon have also learned from Jobs, as commentary across the business world has echoed since his passing. But that admiration and respect will not in any way lessen the competition that is rising—and that may prove to be yet another lasting piece of Jobs’s legacy.