Apple employees to celebrate Jobs, stores to close

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CUPERTINO, California (AP) — Apple leaders, employees and pop culture stars celebrated the life of Steve Jobs in a tribute Wednesday to a computer visionary who changed the world when he incorporated music, media and lifestyle into a sleek line of products.

The service at company headquarters in Cupertino drew hundreds of employees. They crowded into an outdoor amphitheater to reflect on the legacy of the company co-founder, who died Oct. 5 after battling pancreatic cancer.

Across America, Apple stores shut their doors for several hours so retail employees could watch through a live webcast. The ceremony was closed to the public and media handlers shooed reporters away from the famously private company.

Despite the best efforts at keeping the 90-minute ceremony private, music drifted across the campus when Norah Jones and British rock band Coldplay performed. And employees took to Twitter to relay some of the scene.

Helicopter footage showed banners splayed on the building walls surrounding the amphitheater with pictures of Jobs. One banner showed Jobs sitting cross-legged cradling the first Macintosh computer. Employees crowded balconies overlooking the stage.

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook, chief designer Jony Ive and former Vice President Al Gore, who is on Apple’s board, were among those who took to the stage to reminisce about their experiences working with Jobs, according to employees leaving the service.

They wouldn’t give their names but described the ceremony as festive and inspiring.

Elsewhere, Apple customers found shuttered stores but rarely an explanation for the closure. Most who visited didn’t mind the inconvenience once they learned of the tribute.

“Jobs is a visionary. He is basically the core of Apple. So it makes a lot of sense,” said Stephanie Desanges, 25, who works in finance and lives in New York. She had gone to the store to get her laptop fixed.

Apple customer Carol Badger only had one complaint after she showed up at a store in San Francisco to find it closed.

“I was just a little bit disappointed that it was not simulcast around the world so people could gather in cities and take part, much in the same way England did when Lady Diana passed away,” she said.

Analyst Stephen Baker, who tracks consumer electronics sales for research group NPD, said Apple doesn’t stand to lose a lot of sales by closing its stores for a few hours.

A customer or two might be unhappy, but most would simply turn to other outlets that sell Apple products, he said.

Ahead of the memorial, Apple unveiled a new Jobs memorial webpage titled “Remembering Steve.” The site posts some of the one million messages the company has received since Jobs’ death.

People thanked Jobs for his creations, including the iPhone, iPod, iPad and easy-to-use personal computers, and noted how they changed the way they listened to music, read news and communicated with friends.

Wednesday’s service follows a memorial at Stanford University last Sunday for friends and family. That service at Memorial Church reportedly brought out tech titans including Oracle chief Larry Ellison and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, as well as politicians including Bill Clinton. U2 frontman Bono and Joan Baez reportedly performed.




Associated Press technology writers Rachel Metz and video journalist Haven Daley in San Francisco and technology writers Barbara Ortutay and Peter Svensson in New York contributed to this report.