Industry Profile: Steve Jobs, Apple's Genius

A Brief History of Steve Jobs and Apple

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs. Getty Images

Born February 24th 1955, and passing away way too early on October 5th, 2011, Steve Jobs was co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc. His impact on the technology industry, entertainment, advertising and pop culture was vast, and he leaves behind an empire that is changing the way we all live and work.

The Beginning of Apple

It all started with three men - Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula - who together in the late 1970's designed and marketed the Apple II series of computers.

It was the first commercially successful line of personal computers, and led to the Apple Lisa in 1983 - the first computer to use a mouse-driven GUI (graphical user interface). One year later, the Apple Macintosh was born (launched by one of the greatest ads of all time, 1984), and with it, the Apple legend began to grow.
 

The Fall and Rise of Steve Jobs

In 1985, after a long and drawn-out fight with the Apple board, Steve Jobs "left" the company that he helped create. Some say he was pushed or ousted, others say he left simply to pursue other projects. That being said, his next move was NeXT, a tech company he founded that specialized in higher education and business.

One year later, in 1986, Steve Jobs took a major interest in a small division of Lucasfilm Ltd. Focused on the development of computer generated graphics for animated movies, the company now known as Pixar was acquired by Jobs.

It was a master stroke for Steve, who instantly saw the potential for the company (which we now all know as one of the greatest movie-making studios of our time). After many small projects and lots of trial and error, Pixar released Toy Story in 1995 (crediting Jobs as the executive producer) and the rest is history.

One year after the release of Toy Story, in 1996, Apple bought the NeXT company that Jobs owned, and asked him to come back in a leadership role. He was interim CEO from 1997 to 2000, becoming the permanent CEO from that point until his eventual resignation in August of 2011.
 

Steve Jobs and Apple Begin World Domination

When Jobs came on board in 1996, Apple was still very much a niche computer platform. Windows-based PCs were owned by the vast majority of consumers, with the higher-priced Apple computers mainly being used by the creative industries, including advertising, design and motion pictures.

However, that all changed when the iPod came along in November of 2001. Out of nowhere, Apple was suddenly on everyone's lips. The idea that thousands of songs could be stored digitally on one small device much smaller than any Walkman or CD player was mind-blowing. Steve Jobs had spearheaded a product that literally changed the way music was played and shared.

Within a few years, Apple was the technology that everyone wanted to own. And then came the iPhone in 2007, which took Apple from a major player to the company everyone was trying to emulate. Overnight, the iPhone reinvented cell phone technology, and it was yet another crushing victory for Steve Jobs.

His company, Apple, was the brand leader and the one leading the field.

In 2010, after many variations of the iPhone, the iPad was launched to an initially mediocre reception. People and focus groups didn't see the need for it, but Steve Jobs knew it was going to have a big impact. And it did. By March of 2011, over 15 million iPads were on the market.
 

Steve Jobs Loses His Fight With Cancer

The health of Steve Jobs had been in question since around 2006, when his gaunt, frail appearance and lackluster delivery were the focus of his WWDC keynote address. In actuality, Jobs had announced his condition (pancreatic cancer) to his staff in mid 2004. Between 2003 and his death in August 2011, Jobs underwent many procedures and therapies to try and beat the cancer, but it was too aggressive. He stepped down as CEO of Apple on August 24 th, 2011, and died just a few weeks later on September 11th (the 10th anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers).


 

Life at Apple After Steve Jobs

To say Apple greatly misses the influence of Steve Jobs would be the understatement of the century. Steve Jobs was many things to Apple, some bad, most good. Yes, he was a perfectionist and had an ego the size of Jupiter. Yes, he often didn't care about costs, or feelings, or people. But he was a visionary, and an incredible marketer of products.

The last great innovation that Apple released to the market was done so under the leadership of Steve Jobs; it was the iPad, back in 2010. Almost everything released from that point on has been an update to an existing product. New designs, like the iPen and Apple Watch, have had a very poor reception. And the idea of tying courage to the removal of the headphone jack is one Steve Jobs would never have approved of. Jobs, first and foremost, was about giving the consumer the best possible product, not 15 different types of dongles and adapters. Apple has clearly lost its way, and at this point, may never recover. 

Steve Jobs was a visionary, an entrepreneur, a savvy advertising client, and from what everyone who knew him has said, a good friend. He will be missed by many, including Apple, a company that seems to have lost its way since his passing. 
 

The Future of Apple Without Steve Jobs

To be honest, it's a mixed bag. At the time of this update, Apple stock is the trading at $144 per share, just shy of the record $156 that it set in May 2017. What does this mean? Well, despite people across the world becoming increasingly tired of what Apple has to offer on the innovation front, their products are still excellent performers, and the industry standard in design, creativity, film, music, and other such avenues. 

The big question is...will Apple ever bring to market a product that was as revolutionary as the iPhone, iPod, or iPad? And it's worth noting that in all of those instances, products already existed that did very similar jobs. Apple, and Steve, added the lightning in a bottle, but none of these were completely original. So, does something else exist right now, something in its infancy, that Apple could jump on and create another thriving segment of the market? Several possibilities come to mind. 

First, the 3D printer. Currently, they are available in varying forms, from off the shelf models to self-assembly kits, and span many price brackets. But they're prone to technical problems, and the end results are far from perfect. Apple, if it learns from what Steve Jobs did, could take this and revolutionize it. It aligns perfectly with the products it offers, and it could bring 3D printing to the masses. 

Another avenue is that of the smart home. Could Apple finally create a line of products that turn your home into a completely connected, intelligently-controlled environment? Look at a product like Nest, which learns how you like your home heated and cooled, and sets the temperature accordingly. An Apple thermostat, done the Apple way, could also bring A.I. into every home.

And then, of course, there's the self-driving car. It's coming soon, but will it be everything it could be? Apple is known for focusing on consumer-friendly products. Open the box, plug it in, go. Will they be ready to handle the car that drives itself? And will it be priced way above the other offerings? Only time will tell.