Once solely regarded as a common handheld fruit, two unlikely visionaries changed the meaning of “Apple” forever. The corporate conglomerate that now manufactures and sells various electronic products such as computers, cell phones, tablets, music players, and computer accessories was once merely an idea two college dropouts had dreamt in their own garage.
Apple stock currently trades at $544.45 (as of February 14th, 2014), with a net worth estimated at over $500 billion (Forbes) 4. Who started the company, how did they come about starting it, who were the main figures that helped develop the company, and how did the public receive the first product are all questions that will be touched upon in this essay.
First, to look at whom first envisioned and started the company from day one we look no farther than mischievous late Steve Jobs. Now a polarizing figure and a well publicized rash, short tempered business leader, many of his workers would go on record to say that they hated working for such an “in your face” and ridiculing manager, and in 1987 the New York Times published: “by the early 80's, Mr. Jobs was widely hated at Apple. Senior management had to endure his temper tantrums.
He created resentment among employees by turning some into stars and insulting others, often reducing them to tears. Mr. Jobs himself would frequently cry after fights with fellow executives"5. Jobs wanted things done his way and his way only, and would make himself heard when things weren’t being done to his liking, much to the dismay of his colleagues. He had an arrogant demeanor about him, was very egotistical, and quickly reminded employees who their superiors were when they would retort. Some say he behaved like a dictator, giving hour-long speeches and always taking all the credit and attention for himself while dismissing employees and co-workers making them feel worthless.
For all his shortcomings, there is still one thing everyone who was close to him, worked for him, or has any knowledge of Apple at all can agree on; Steve Jobs was a revolutionary genius. Anything Jobs wanted to do, he got done, and everything he envisioned Apple becoming, it became, and then some. An unlikely pairing of entrepreneurs, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, both devoid of a college degree were both the founders and creators of Apple.
Wozniak was the computer genius of the two who dealt with the hardware and programming to make everything work, while Jobs focused on marketing, selling and aesthetics. Jobs and Wozniak started work on their first product and other prototypes in Jobs’ garage in 1976, and the rest is history. Jobs, the marketing guru looked to aesthetics as the main way to sell products.
He thought that items that looked better and that appealed to consumer’s tastes would sell better, no matter their internal capabilities, so he focused on making his products look modern, and aesthetically forthcoming more than the actual programs and applications. He also sought to market his products in a way that makes the consumer feel that they “need” it when it really isn’t a necessity of their life.
The first commercial Jobs launched was to be aired during Super Bowl 18, and was titled “1984”, which has since been deemed the “best commercial of all time’. With this ad, Jobs sparked a movement never seen or thought of before. It brought to light a different, wide scale form of marketing. It showed the advertising industry that a television ad could bring business from various companies, and had the broadcasting industry drooling, now knowing that commercials were so beneficial to advertising they could raise prices on time-slots for advertisements during television shows and events, like the Super Bowl.
An estimated 77 million people saw the “1984” ad, which is why Jobs pushed so hard for it to be aired, saying that it would establish a platform that would resonate for over 30 years. He was right. Although he may have been right, Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985. Without Steve Jobs, Apple started to trend down, and he rejoined the company in 1997 with a vision to bring it back to the top. He released a “think different” ad campaign, featuring pictures of Albert Einstein, John Lennon, and Thomas Edison that had one goal, to let people know the company still had a pulse.
As copywriter Rob Siltanen said, “it got the Apple faithful stirred up, it got the fence-sitters back on board, and it got an audience that was lukewarm on Apple to think about the brand in a whole new way.”(CBC)4 Jobs had many visions and marketing schemes, but his two main philosophies are summarized by the following: “to follow the principles of human engineering to build “friendly” products whose simplicity and ease of use make them natural extensions of their owners, and to create a worldwide customer service organization to service retailers, distributors, and technical support centers, unmatched in the industry.”
(Elliot)1 Of course Jobs had his shortcomings, as already mentioned, but his prowess for marketing and visions for building companies could not be denied. Once he had an idea in mind, he would not stop until it was done, meanwhile pushing not only his employees/co-workers but also himself to ensure the best product was put forth for the consumer.
His revolutionary Super Bowl ad broke the plain of commercial advertising through broadcasting, which is obviously still used in full affect today, and will continue to be used and grow throughout time. The idea of two young college dropouts with seemingly no experience of the business world to revolutionize the computer and advertising market seems remarkable, but the pair made it work, utilizing Wozniak’s computer savvy and Job’s marketing genius to create an exceedingly successful business that still profits form their work today.
However, Apple’s success wasn’t all based on their marketing schemes, as the products they developed turned out to be revolutionary in their own ways. Inside Jobs’ parents’ garage in 1976, Steve Wozniak put the finishing touches on what was to be called the Apple I, and showcased it for the first time at the Homebrew Computer Club in California. The Apple I was essentially a do-it-yourself kit to build your own computer, which didn’t come with a keyboard, case, or monitor. The computer was priced at a steep $600 at the time and around 200 units were sold, making it a seemingly overwhelmingly unsuccessful project.
On second thought though, the Apple I was a major step forward over the competition at the time such as the Altair 8800, which did not include a fully assembled circuit board with over 6o chips like the Apple I. So although it did not necessarily sell well to consumers, the Apple I was still a massive innovation for its time, while not only giving Jobs and Wozniak the hope and drive to create more computers, but also providing a prototype that other companies could use to further enhance their products and create competition to ultimately create the best products possible to benefit the consumer.
As mentioned, Jobs and Wozniak weren’t content to quit after they created the Apple I, so they went to work again, and in turn produced the Apple II. The Apple II was a microcomputer that included data cassette storage, a keyboard, and even a colour monitor. Much unlike the Apple I, sales for the Apple II took off, as it became one of the most popular computers of all time. Programs and applications were also introduced and built into the Apple II, the most popular being VisiCalc, a spreadsheet program similar to the contemporary Microsoft Excel.
The program made the Apple II a huge success, as it became sought after by not only consumers from regular households but also businesses that could benefit form it’s data storage and display for payroll services, income statements etc. The Apple II went on sale in 1977, originally retailing at $1,297, again a steep price for the time period. But what distinguished the Apple II from other computers was the fact that it brought everything that was needed in a computer all in one, with the keyboard, colour monitor, and programs for business and daily life.
The Apple II appealed to a wide range of consumers, not just computer geeks looking to build their own computer, which the Apple I provided them. Apple estimated that 35,000 Apple II’s were sold per year, making it the most successful personal computer of its time. Apple made it’s name off these two computers, and made themselves a staple in the computer market, while remaining a force to be reckoned with. The savvy computer genius with programming and hardware development skills paired with the cunning entrepreneur who possessed the marketing, brand recognition, and visionary prowess to create something never seen before seemed like a match made in heaven, but the best was yet to come.
Apple recently celebrated their 30th Birthday, unfortunately without Steve Jobs, the creator of it all. But what Jobs left behind was a truly remarkable company that will continue to flourish as long as they call themselves Apple. Even after his passing, many products that Apple has created since then have his fingerprints on them, including his “less is more” theory, and creating visually stimulating products that will appeal toa wide range of consumers. Jobs sought to create simple, yet elegant products that stood out from the rest, making them as user-friendly as possible while still remaining exceedingly powerful devices.
Apple started with developing computers, but now is known for so much more, as they now dwindle in the cell phone market, along with the MP3 player and laptop market as well. With each new product they continue to amaze consumers, who wait in line for hours outside Apple Stores on release day to get their hands on the devices first. As of 2013, Apple has a net income of over $170 billion, and currently employs 80,000 workers, and to think it was started by two college dropouts is astonishing.
Apple now does everything electronic and has such a loyal fan base that they seemingly have no need for marketing anymore, as people will still purchase their products based on name recognition. For all the faults that Steve Jobs may have had, and all the people he abandoned, fired or ridiculed, obviously he did something right.
Works Cited Elliot, Jay, and William L. Simon. The Steve Jobs Way: ILeadership for a New Generation. New York, NY: Vanguard, 2011. Print.
Finger, Richard. "Apple: What's It Really Worth." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. .
Moisescot, Morain. "Steve at Work | All about Steve Jobs.com." All about Steve Jobs.com. N.p., 07 Mar. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. .
O'Reilly, Terry. "The Marketing Genius of Steve Jobs - Part One." CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. .
Sander, Peter J. What Would Steve Jobs Do?: How the Steve Jobs Way Can Inspire Anyone to Think Differently and Win. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.