My blog on Steve Jobs will be one in million plus, but still I should never miss a personality who disrupted the whole world by the word “Disruptive Innovation”. A person less lived by time and years, but more lived by this passion and innovation can’t be forgotten. A person who lived against time, but stimulated the usage that changed the whole world, the one who created the cult of brands –think Mac, iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad can’t be left by days.“God of Apple Inc.,” – the company who’s cash pile is larger than the forex reserves of developed countries such as Canada, Sweden, Norway and Spain can’t be an yet another human being to be left just in memoirs.
My “Words of Wisdom (WoW Pages)” raises the first curtain to show case the supreme moments of Steve Jobs, his leadership lessons and his game changing innovations to the world we live.
The birth of immortal
No one knew in 1955, that Feb 24th would be carved in the global history as the date of birth of this “ Super Genius” kiddo to the unwed students Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali. This kid was adopted by lower-middle-class couple of Bay Area, Paul and Clara Jobs. Named as Seven Paul Jobs, the young boy grew up in the apricot orchards of Silicon Valley, which was slowly turning into the global hub of circuit boards and electronic chips.
At the age of 14, Jobs met the whiz kid Stephen Wozniak, commonly known as Woz. The destiny planted its first mile stone when these two technology fascinated kids shared their common interests in computers and became close friends from then on.
Paul and Clara admitted Jobs to Reed College, Oregon and thus kept their promise made to Jobs biological parents. Jobs tenure at Reed was just for one semester after which he got dropped off, hating the conventional methodology of teachings. Inspired by the Eastern theology, Jobs traveled to India to seek enlightenment at his age of 19. Disappointed by the fact that he could not meet the god man whom he wanted to meet, Jobs returned to USA as a Buddhist follower.
The birth of Apple
On his return from India, Jobs began to focus on Woz’s work on computer circuit boards. He felt the market pulse that many of them were interested in the circuit board designs of Woz and suggested to Woz that they sell those design boards. Thus Apple was born.
Jobs and Woz started their small scale business of selling the integrated circuit boards to the local computer dealers with the brand name Apple. Jobs car garage gave raise to Apple’s first design unit with Woz’s brilliance in technology and Jobs idea of innovation clubbed with marketing. 1977 dawned for Apple with the invention of Apple II, which was a much improvised version than the earlier computers in the market. Apple II was a breakthrough invention and stood out as the best in the computer industry. The world of Silicon Valley started to look at the young kids Jobs and Woz for the first time. Jobs realized the distinction in their invention, made his first approach to the venture capitalist Mike Markkula , a then Intel executive to fund $250,000 for Apple.
Apple went public
The biggest public offering in the USA’s history next to Ford Motors (in 1956) happened on December 12, 1980 when Apple went to public. A day next to the public offering, Jobs was worth $217.5 Million, $210 Million more than the previous day. In 1981 the computers market had a rigid competition because of the entry of IBM into the personal computers market.
Apple III was already in the market during 1981, but could not make up the advancements due to extreme market penetration by IBM. Jobs was dismissed from the Project Lisa (The project to design first GUI computer) stating the reasons of its failure to impress the markets.
The separation of Pirates from the Navy
Jobs was angry because of the situational fact that he was thrown out of Project Lisa. Wanting to develop a better product and prove his ability again in Apple, Jobs headed Macintosh project and was determined to make it as a huge success in the GUI market. He hired the first set of Engineers for his team with the flag hoisted in this department “better be a pirate than to join the Navy”, quoting the rest of Apple as Navy. Jobs was backed by John Sculley, the then Apple’s CEO whom he brought on board in 1983.
Steve Jobs was fired from his own company
The Mac hit the market in 1984, priced at $2,500, which was the brain-child of Jobs. Mac was the first personal computer to have hit the market with the ease of GUI user interface and mouse. The sales of Mac started to drop down after few months due to the high value pricing and competition pressure. Apple community started to blame Jobs, stating that it was a costlier error made by him in the company’s history. Apple II was the only product that was doing well in the market, but was not supported by the then CEO, John Sculley’s marketing plans to boost its sales. Insulted by the disrespect he received, Woz quit Apple by Feb 1985. Sculley and Jobs began to blame each other in the public meetings.
The board was redefined by John Sculley with no Steve Jobs in the functional chart of Apple. Jobs was made non-functional as Non-executive Chairman with no decision making powers. Devastated Jobs, spent his time in Europe and was planning to settle in France.
The happening of NeXT
On September 1985, Jobs made his business proposal to Apple board to incorporate the new company called NeXT for which he was willing to hire the best engineers and salesmen from Mac Team. The board voted down the proposal and issued notice to Jobs, stating that he will be sued before law of such acts. Jobs then decided to leave Apple with distress selling all his stocks.
During that time he got introduced to Graphics Group, part of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm. Jobs interest moved to producing animated movies and hence Pixar was born in 1986 with Jobs buying Graphics Group for $ 10 Million. NeXT was started by Jobs with the goal to compete with Apple.
“Cube” was the first branded computer to be released by NeXT in 1988. The market failed to respond for “Cube” and was not receiving the expected response in the computer world. NeXT’s growth was reaching negative numbers and thus all the co-founders including its external investor Ross Perot left the company.
Pixar turned to be a loss making in early 1990’s which made Jobs to close its entire operations except computer animation which was supporting small TV commercials. Jobs also ended the hardware operations of NeXT in 1993 and retained its software division which was the niche by itself.
Jobs nor the world knew that Animation and Software business retained by him at that time would be the “Tsunami of change” in the forthcoming years.
The return of Steve Jobs
“Toy Story” did the magic in 1995 when Pixar’s animation took the big screen in a bigger way. Jobs road of revival begun when he announced the public-go to Pixar in Wall Street. 80% of shares were owned by Steve Jobs in Pixar, resulting him to raise $ 1.5 Billion as Pixar went public. At the same time, the company co-founded by Jobs, was traveling towards closure. In 1995, Apple lost its lead with Microsoft by the release and popularity of Windows 95 .Mac, which was designed and developed during the days of Jobs failed to innovate itself with the catching GUI market were Windows made its foray.
Apple’s then CEO Gil Amelio’s search for new software to replace the aging MAC OS turned fruitful, when he agreed for the acquisition of NeXTSTEP and NeXT for $ 400 Million. Jobs was back to his Apple after 10 years in 1996 with the title bearing “Informal Advisor to CEO”.
The thrown had the throne with the crown
It was in first quarter of 1997 when Amelio announced the revenues of Apple owing to loss of $ 700 Million. The board of Apple decided to remove Amelio as CEO and passed the Baton to Steve Jobs. He was carrying the title as “Interim CEO” in the company that changed the world from then on.
When Jobs was back to Apple, the place was crowded with press and business partners with rumors about ongoing projects. The return of Jobs ended all these loose talks inside the company. He hung WWII poster in his desk quoting “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships” and made clear anyone talking to the press would be sacked.
Jobs did an extensive review of the company and made its focus from hundred projects to a dozen. He unveiled the prime goals of Apple to infuse fresh leadership, focus on relevance, invest in core assets, build meaningful partnerships and new product paradigms. Apple board was completely revamped in the Macworld Boston 1997 conference where he announced the sweeping deal with its arch-rival Microsoft and put an end to interminable patent disputes.
My best video till now would be the address of Steve Jobs in 1997 Boston Macworld conference. Look at this Interim CEO who addresses the crowd about a company that dipped in sales figures for 3 years in row and his confidence, enthusiasm he exhibited with the passion and vision to revive it back.
The power of “i” – Innovation powered with Creativity
Jobs refreshed idea marketed the brand Apple as “Think Different” in the stage set for Macworld 1997.This marketing revamp was made with an idea that people who used Macs were dreamers who could change the world. Six months after the Macworld decisions, Jobs stood before the investors with the resurgence in sales towards profit.
The actual growth of Apple started when Jobs introduced new desktop computer in May 1998, iMac. The computer industry had only large black boxes until iMac was introduced which was translucent. This made iMac to be a hot product in the market that made large chunk of developers to switch to Mac platform. Innovations and creativity continued drastically at Apple during 1998-1999 with the release of colored iMacs and iBook. After 3 years as “Interim CEO” ,Jobs got back Apple on track to re-emerge its powerful brand image. Jobs was made as Apple’s full-time CEO in Jan 2000, the first time in world when one person served as CEO of 2 public companies.
The real purpose of Jobs presence in Apple got accomplished in 2001, when Apple announced the release of its signature operating system Mac OS X. This release ensured the application of NeXT’s software technology to the Mac platform. Steve Jobs devised new strategy of “Digital Hub” in which Macs were part of personal computers, in 2001 Macworld Expo. When computer industry’s experts forecasted the end of personal desktops, Jobs vision empowered the PC’s with digital cameras,camcorders,music players,smart phones and all other lifestyle integrations. Hence the birth of iApps begun and started to empower the chips with Digital Hub technology.
iPod – The world danced for the tunes of Apple
Even though video players had a vital role on desktop PC’s, Jobs thinking on the legacy left by Napster’s success made the invention of iPod. This was a “Disruptive Innovation” made by Jobs at the time when the entertainment industry was focusing on video’s.
2001’s holiday season had the best in Apple’s history with the introduction of iPod – the breakthrough music player that the world celebrated in all ways. The ability of iPod to sink with iTunes, the best user interface, the music juke box in the size of a match box and the wheel click model, fascinated people to madly go for iPod. For the first time people started buying Macs to power their iPods. Apple’s profits soared by the massive sales of iPods across the world. Apple went on to introduce Windows compatibility for iPods in 2002, opening of iTunes Music Store and developing Windows version of iTunes in 2003. These efforts increased the pie of iPod revenue to the revenue made on selling computers. iPod boasted big with the market share of 75%.
Pixar powered by Disney
Pixar was responsible for creation and production of films, while Disney handled marketing and distribution. Profits and production costs were split 50-50, but Disney exclusively owned all story and sequel rights and also collected a distribution fee. Since Pixar was not able to own story and sequel revenues, the cold-war between Jobs and Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner grew bitter. Pixar decided to put off its distribution deal with Disney . Steve Jobs made an open remark that he will not sign any deal with Disney until Eisner is out of the company. Jobs opinion was reiterated by many executives at Disney’s board which led Walt’s own nephew, Roy Disney to launch a public campaign to oust Eisner out.
As a result, Bob Iger took over as the CEO of Walt Disney in March 2005. Jobs signed the contract with Iger to sell Disney’s TV Shows in iTunes. The close working relationship of Jobs and Iger, followed by the successes for both companies resulted in the merger of Disney+Pixar – The new animation giant in Jan 2006.Jobs became the largest shareholder of the new entity.
Reincarnation of Apple Computers to Apple Inc.,
Displacing the WinTel Combo – In 2005, Jobs announced that Mac PC’s will be powered by Intel chips thus dismantling the monopoly combo of Windows PC’s powered by Intel (WinTel). This lead to the creation of new product line in Apple’s portfolio. The fear that Apple team had on the reluctance of users to buy Intel powered Mac’s which may not have Windows powered software’s was overcome by the increase in sales of Mac’s channeled by company owned retail stores. The users preferred using Intel Powered Mac PC’s with Apple’s “Digital Hub” technology, which was made accessible by Apple through its retail stores.
iPod – The revenue share of iPod began to increase in a much larger way thus reinstalling the brand image of Apple. Due to iPod, Apple found its way in the consumer electronics industry apart from its niche space in PC industry.
iPhone – The biggest market move of Apple happened on Jan 2007, when Jobs line of legacy moved to iPhone. Making his mark in the mobile communication space, Jobs innovation led to the birth of iPhone , the ultimate Apple product. Built on fully operational OS X, fueled by multi-touch technology, web surfing technology, built in iPod and easy-to-use iPod, catapulted the product to a larger audience thus making its share to be significant in the revenue pie of Apple.
With Apple’s portfolio now spanning across software, retail, on-line distribution of electronic media, home entertainment, digital audio players, cellphones and computers, Jobs reincarnated Apple Computers to Apple Inc., in Jan 2007.
Travel against time:
Apple never turned back ever since Steve Jobs took over the stage in 1997, but Jobs was traveling against time. He was diagnosed of pancreatic cancer in 2003. It was only on Aug 2004 he agreed for the surgery and he claimed he got cured after that. But by Dec 2008 his health started deteriorating which made the world believe that he would not come back for the keynote in Macworld once again. The enthusiasm and passion he exhibited for innovation and creativity of Apple products, to reinvent his product portfolios, to be most competitive in the market, kept him alive inspite of his acute pancreatic cancer. He got liver transplant done in April 2009.
2010 witnessed the rebirth of the “Corporate Captain” of Apple. Jobs presided the stage at Macworld Expo on Jan 2010, to unveil his energy, passion and yet another signature product of Apple- The iPad. By this announcement, the world witnessed two supreme moments in the computer industry. The man who played a critical role in the birth of desktop PC’s has also put an end to it and the same man paved way to the evolution and era of Tablet Computers.
The final days of the Cupertino Captain:
Later in 2011, Jobs health turned worse which made him to announce his second medical leave in Jan 2011 without mentioning the return date. COO, Tim Cook took over the daily operations while Jobs continued to be CEO and involved in major strategic decisions of the company. On Aug 24 2011, Jobs announced his resignation as CEO due to critical health complications.
October 5th 2011 will be carved as one of the saddest days of our century. The man who powered the world with “i” said goodbye and the world wept missing one of its best leader of century.
The world responded to the death of “Father of Digital Revolutions” as “Three apples have changed the world. One seduced Eve, Second awakened Newton, the Third one was in the hands of Steve Jobs.”
The distinctiveness of being Steve Jobs:
1) The practical leader – Even though Jobs was seen as being stubborn and straight spoken person, his decisions were rational and adaptive to situations. I would like to mention a situation when Jobs took the road of revival for Apple in the 1997 at Macworld Expo. Microsoft, which was seen as the prime competitor of Apple till 1996, which filed lawsuits on Apple on patents was made to partner with Apple to infuse fund by holding the shares of Apple. This decision of Jobs to partner with Microsoft was decisive decision to kill competition as well to breathe life into Apple’s future.
2) Lead with Accountability – Jobs was very clear that everyone at Apple is accountable for the duty they hold and he always demanded that duty should be discharged at its best. I would like to quote an extract from Adam Lashinsky’s article in Fortune when Jobs addressed the set of VP’s who got newly promoted at Apple. Jobs mentioned that “ A Janitor can be excused for not cleaning the garbage if the door’s keys are replaced or missing” but he added “Somewhere between the janitor & CEO, reasons stop mattering and the Rubicon is crossed when you become a VP”. This means, VP’s do not have excuses for mistakes and will be sacked.
3) Invention based on user experience – Music players and Tablets existed for years before the launch of iPod and iPad. But what Apple did was, took these existing products and designed it in a way that it had superior user experience with a mind-blowing user interface. This was the key of Jobs success. He also made the products to be financially viable by releasing updated newer versions of iPad,iPod and iPhone thus upgrading the inventions to serve the users at one step higher than the previous versions. The strategy to make iTunes compatible with Windows OS was yet another way of promoting the iProduct category to broader user levels thus increasing the revenue of the company.
4) The vision he envisaged – iPhone was a breakthrough innovation in mobile communication. Nokia was market leader in 2007 with its highest selling mobile phones in the world and usage because of its cheaper price and availability. When the market competitors were trying to imitate Nokia on phone models, Jobs took a vision and stood by it to create a superior communication device, cost it premium but provide an integrated user interface. iPhone was launched in 2007 and it surpassed Nokia in volume, revenue and profit by Q2, 2011. Jobs had the vision of not making larger volume of mobile devices but to make the mobile device that is the best in the world and it will have its own selling.
5) Attention to detail– Jobs spent enormous time in paying attention to detail on the designs and products he developed for. A well quoted example from his biography would be the conversation he had with Google’s head of social business Vic Gundotra on the Google logo which was imprinted on iPhone that did not had the exact yellow pattern in the second “O” of Google. He realized the imprinted logo of Google had incorrect yellow color and made changes to that immediately before even Google’s design team could find this. And this was the discovery by Jobs on Sunday after which he immediately called Vic. This was the passion Steve Jobs had, as the CEO of Apple. Being CEO, he did not neglect even a simple color pattern error and never hesitated to reach Google team on a holiday.
6) Be super excited of what you do – The greatest management lesson from Jobs is to love what you do with enthusiasm and energy. Be it the designs for Apple or the designs of someone else, Jobs loved and lived by it. Whenever he took the stage to launch his new products, he always made a comment “I couldn’t sleep last night and I was so excited about it.”
Rarely has a major company and the industry has been dominated by a single individual and being so successful. Steve Jobs influence went beyond computers. In the past decade, Apple has redefined the music business through the iPod, the cell phone business through iPhone and entertainment and media world through iPad through an integrated online model and robust retail outlets.
One dominant truth that Jobs reiterated again and again was that he knew what the customer actually want and went right with his vision. The most important leadership trait that he had is not being genius nor his charisma, but his extraordinary risk-taking ability and his tenacity. He was a very rare breed of CEO’s in corporate America. He never had market-testing on consumer behavior for any products. It was all his own judgment and perfectionism that paved way for Apple to be world’s largest and likable brand. And creating such brand image is not easy.
I would like to recollect the words of Jobs: Believe in your dreams! “And those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Thank you Steve Jobs.
WoW Pages bows to Steve Jobs for the passion he carried for what he loved to do.
Let’s live for and love what we do, to the fullest !!!
Say Cheese 🙂 …see you in next blog.