Inside Apple's Regent Street store it was business as usual, with hundreds of staff selling the high-end electronics that made Steve Jobs both a fortune and a household name. But the pavement outside was blocked by fans and media crews jostling to see the impromptu shrine to Apple's former CEO that had sprung up in the hours following his death.

Throughout the day more fans arrived to pay their respects. Some brought flowers, some left cards but the most popular choice of tribute was a half-eaten Granny Smith, a nod to the firm's logo. Other aficionados paused to take a photo of the scene – on their iPhones, naturally.

One note – perhaps a little over the top – read simply: "God is dead."

Few CEOs can expect such a send-off. But few CEOs were so well known by their customers, let alone idolised.

"He's the first celebrity whose passing has caused me to feel genuine sorrow. I shed a tear," says Michael Webb, 21, a recent graduate. "Think about the reaction to the deaths of Michael Jackson and Lady Diana – Steve Jobs did more to change the world than any of those people. Michael Jackson sold 100 million copies of Thriller but Steve Jobs sold hundreds of millions of iPods. He was a force five creative hurricane and the world will mourn him for a very long time. I got the news at 2am last night, in a room full of friends. The whole room fell silent and assumed the most lugubrious expressions. It's a sad day for Apple fans, but also for humanity in general."

Jobs gained an unusually high profile for a businessman, in part due to his habit of personally announcing all new product lines at set-piece events that were covered as major news stories. As Apple's technology became more popular so more people would tune in to see Jobs, clad in uniform jeans and black sweater, reveal his company's latest innovations.

Meshal Muta, 35, a pilot, left a tribute after being "inspired" by a chance meeting with Jobs: "I was in the New York Apple Store and I saw him there. He was just shaking people's hands and smiling all the time. I didn't know he ran the company at the time.

"I asked him whether I should switch from my Nokia to an iPhone and he said 'of course'.

"I told the assistant I was buying an iPhone because that man had told me to do so – the assistant said 'that man is my boss'. He was so modest, I can't forget that moment."

Kim Randall, 36, grew up near Jobs in Paolo Alto, California, and left flowers outside the store. She said he kept a low profile: "People left him alone. He was just your everyday neighbour."

Also present were developers who owe their living to innovations such as the App Store. A common view was that Jobs represented a positive side to capitalism. "People in my generation have lost faith in corporate America," said Sanskruti Mehta, 29, an entrepreneur. "But he's managed to revive the positive side about what large corporations should be: they should be innovating, they should be creating, and they should be good to their employees."