Irrespective of your personal feelings towards Steve Jobs there’s no doubt that he was one of the most influential people of the last 25 year’s. He changed the way the world interacts with technology and will be remembered for generations to come.
His drive, personality and ingenious foresight propelled Apple from a basement to Wall Street darlings, and one of the world’s rich companies.
His contributions to that success are not to be underestimated. We take a look back at some of his most significant achievements, which have fuelled Apple’s resurgence.
First of all, he was an inventor – but it was actually his marketing prowess and his uncanny ability to give consumers what they actually want, that, in part, made Apple what it is today. The world’s most valueable brand.
The First Apple Computers
Steve Jobs and the technical knowledge of his co-founder Steve Wozniak created the first personal computer, the Apple 1. It wasn’t a massive hit, but was the first step in bringing their vision of personal computers to the mass-market. It wasn’t until they got the backing of A. C. “Mike” Markkula, Jr and they moved into proper offices that they saw real success. They created the Apple 2 and would go on to sell six million units. The rest is, as they say, history.
The Xerox Parc visit
One of Steve Jobs greatest ability’s was foresight – and this can be explained by one story when they visited Xerox’s PARC research lab in November 1979. Apple was granted two visits to the facility in exchange for Xerox to purchase 5% of the company for $1 million.
What Jobs saw, and delivered commercially where Xerox hadn’t – changed the world. Xerox were working on graphical user interfaces and manipulating them with something Xerox called a mouse.
Inspired by what he had seen he ask programmer Bill Atkinson how long it would take to ““bring what they had just seen” to their family of Apple products. These features would prove incredibly popular in the Mac, which in turn became the first commercially successful personal computer, it featured a graphical interface opposed to a command-line interface and a mouse.
One of Steve Jobs’ finest moments was the commissioning of an advert that launched the Mac during the Super bowl. Name 1984, the one-minute TV ad has since gone down in advertising history.
It encapsulated everything that was special about Steve, despite the fact that the Apple board almost didn’t approve the advert. The advert was heavily influenced by Orweillian imagery that showed athletic heroin rebelling against a supposedly totalitarian state. On the heroin’s jersey appeared a Mac logo with the text announcing the debut of the Macintosh personal computer.
“Do you want to spend your life selling sugared water?”
Steve Jobs famously said to John Sculley, the Pepsi Cola president “Do you want to spend your life selling sugared water, or do you want to change the world? The now famous quote, sums up the sort of person Steve Jobs was.
Steve jobs didn’t just want to create a company, develop products and gain fame – he wanted to change the world. What makes this quote resonate even more is that Steve wasn’t just posturing, he actually did change the world.
When Steve returned to Apple he revived the company with the first iMac; a product so forward thinking it was an instant success and turned the fortunes of an ailing company into something where he could realise his dreams of changing the world.
The iPod is one of Apple biggest success stories not only did it completely change that way we listen to music, but it was the final nail in the coffin of the audio CD, Walkman and gave birth to a new digital era with iTunes.
The simple user interface coupled with iTunes eventually changed a reluctant music industry forever. It wasn’t until iTunes was launched that the business model became viable.
There are now 18 million DRM-free songs available in iTunes Store. Ten of millions of iPods have been sold and over 10 billion song have since been downloaded and paid for.
The integration of an all-encompassing eco-system where you could have access to applications, music, email, calendars and contacts all on a single device, the iPhone, is probably Apple’s biggest success story.
It was Job’s ability to realise the mass-market appeal of the iPhone by matching the desires of the consumer with a device that could achieve all this. The iPhone is the world’s top selling smartphone and showed Job’s uncanny ability to bring this vision to market and, most importantly, make it work.
He didn’t invent the phone, the music player or even the smartphone – but he managed to bring them all together in a way that had never been done before.
Apple had caught the mobile phone industry napping and since 2007 the iPhone has gone to sell over 100 million handsets and created a business model along with the app store that truly revolutionised the mobile phone for the better.
Despite the amazing success of the iPod, iTunes and the iPhone it’s easy to forget where Apple’s growth was created. Mac OSX.
When Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 he brought with him a new operating platform UNIX. Jobs changed Mac computers to take advantage of this powerful, scalable and secure UNIX platform he had worked on at NeXT.
Mac OSX has always been a by-word for stability, ease-of-use and security. Further success was achieved when Mac computers started to use Intel Chips. While Apple didn’t have the monopoly on personal computers in the late 20th century they did corner the market for premium computers and laptops – securing an impressive 75% of the market.
With the success of Mac OSX it gave Apple the finances and knowledge to explore new markets, which lead to their successes with the iPod, iPad and iPhone.
It laid the groundwork for the brand that we all know and love today. At a time where Microsoft were famed for an unstable, all be it very successful, operating system. Apple built a brand around stability, ease-of-use and style. This has continued throughout every product they have released. Mac OSX has been the foundation for their continued success.
Many companies over the years have tried to crack the tablet market. For some it might be seen as a hybrid of the laptop, but for Apple is was something much more. In 2010, Apple launched their iPad. For many early commentators it was seen as a giant iPhone. But for Apple it was something they called a “post-pc” device. It was simple, intuitive, reliable device that would be instant runaway success. Within a year Apple has sold 15 million units and cornered 75% of the market.
Once again Apple weren’t the first company to create the tablet, but were the first to make it successful. So how good is the iPad? Well HP having just released its own tablet, but last month it announced that it was abandoning the product after only two months and would be exiting the home computer market altogether. That’s how good it is.
The elegant 10-inch touchscreen tablet had finally realised the concept behind the tablet and in many people’s eyes is a product that shows why Apple is so successful. A product that was perfectly engineered and stunning to look at – it will be regarded as Jobs’ greatest legacy.
Steve Jobs’ life story is a true tale of an American dream. But he was also heavily involved in storytelling, movies and motion pictures. After leaving Apple in the mid 90’s Steve Jobs invested $5 million to purchase George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic Computer Division, which subsequently became Pixar.
His success at Pixar took the company public and would see him getting a seat on the board at Disney after he sold the company to them. This made him a billionaire and saw him make more money through this one deal than he did at Apple previously.
One more thing…
Steve Jobs gained cult following in part due to his unique personality, drive, vision and showmanship. This is evident when you look back at his appearance at Apple’s developer conferences.
He will be always known for his “one more thing” trademark at the end of key-note speeches. It started with Airport at the Macworld Expo 1999 – and other Apple products that have had the “One More Thing” treatment include G4 Powerbook, PowerMac G5, the fifth generation iPod, the MacBook Pro, iPod touch and MacBook Air.
Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011