The splash page of Apple's US website changed this evening from the usual product displays and content links to a spare, elegant black and white portrait of Nelson Mandela. The South African activist, decades-long political prisoner and statesman who served as the first black president of a post-apartheid nation died Thursday at age 95.
The tribute page appears only on the US site at this time as far as I can tell, although it may end up on Apple's international web pages soon. While this "takeover" style of front-page tribute is unusual, it is not unprecedented on Apple's site. Founder Steve Jobs took over the home page in the days following his passing in 2011 and again on the first anniversary of his death. Longtime Apple board member Jerry York was memorialized on the front page in 2010, and other notables (cited by 9to5Mac) include dancer Gregory Hines, civil rights icon Rosa Parks and musician George Harrison.
Musical legends get memorialized via the iTunes splash page when they shuffle off this mortal coil. Soul singer Isaac Hayes was remembered there in 2008, and Lou Reed in October this year. The iTunes tribute practice may be considered somewhat crass, as it does capitalize on the surge of consumer interest when a performer dies.