Steven Paul Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” Jobs was an American entrepreneur, inventor, and co-founder of the now trillion-dollar tech company, Apple. After attending Reed College for about six months he dropped out but began dropping into creative courses over the following 18 months. It was in 1976 that Apple Computer was born in Jobs’ garage, their venture was funded by the selling of Jobs’ Volkswagon bus and Wozniak’s scientific calculator. They revolutionized user-friendly computers as they made the machines smaller, cheaper, and more easily accessible. About ten years after co-founding Apple alongside Steve Wozniak in his garage, Jobs was fired and went on to create Pixar Animation Studios and NeXT. When the company stock price had plummeted to a $2 share, Jobs was brought back as a CEO and began restoring the company. A year after his return, the company had brought in a profit of over $100 million. The exceptional success of Steve Jobs and Apple was a result of his creative vision paired with the ability to complement technological advancements, his methodical marketing strategies, and the mere fact that he was a prime example of the Schumpeterian entrepreneur.
While he was not exactly an expert in IT, Steve Jobs redefined the IT user experience. Murugesan (2011) states, “Jobs persuaded millions of people to try technology they’d never before considered” (6). Debuted in 1976, the Apple-I computer was not sold with a case but was a kit for building a desktop computer as the user needed to add their own monitor. At the time, this computer sold for over $600 and they had made enough profit to invest in producing the Apple-II. The Apple-II was the first large scale produced microcomputer and later became known as “the people’s computer” due to its ease of use for the public. It was also extremely popular because it allowed computer users to create and sell their own programs. The Apple-II was a great success and by 1978 they had made $2 million in profit. Perhaps it was Jobs’ drive for perfection that led to the releases of his revolutionary technologies each year. What really did it for Apple was his ability to successfully create, market and sell different products. This opened the door for Apple and was what allowed for their monumental success. Isaacson (2012) stated: “Achieving this depth of simplicity, he realized, would produce a machine that felt as if it deferred users in a friendly way, rather than challenging them” (95). His innovation allowed him to transform multiple industries beyond just IT such as the music industry, the cell phone industry, the computing industry, and many more. He began overseeing the releases of technologies way ahead of their time that were not yet on the market. In 1978, the development for Apple Lisa began and officially launched in 1983 with a price tag of $9,995. What was different about the Apple Lisa was the software it was equipped with. It came with protected memory, the GUI which allowed its users to interact with the content, Apple Lisa Workshop which allowed developers to create and run applications in the Office System, etc.
He had the ability to predict the way the industry would go and the need for the product. A desirable quality Jobs’ possessed was his ability to overcome his losses. If he saw something he did not believe would succeed, he would send it back and wait for the next thing and ensure that it was perfect. He just had the natural-born qualities of a leader which helped him to lead the company to its great success.
Another one of Jobs’ successes was his innovative and methodical marketing strategies. In particular, his deal with Bill Gates helped to save Apple from bankruptcy. Bill Gates agreed to invest $150 million in the company’s stock while also making Microsoft Office available for the Mac and having Internet Explorer as one of its default browsers. Appleyard (2009) said that: “In the early days it was said that the Apple marketing department consisted of Jobs looking in his mirror and asking himself what he wanted” (5). One of the most memorable advertisements may possibly be Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial which introduced the Mac and generated about $45 million in free advertising from the television stations and playback of the ad. In the three months following the Super Bowl, Apple sold $155 million worth of Macintoshes. However, the ad was almost not aired due to the negative response from the board of directors. The dislike for the commercial went so far that the chairman had asked his fellow board members if they had also wanted to fire the agency that produced the advertisement. This advertisement was monumental because it helped to place Apple as an innovator in the field of technology. Apple also had one of the first advertisements to be continually shown on television news shows which exposed its products to more consumers with each watch. Another thing that is especially unique to Apple’s advertising methods is the secrecy surrounding their product releases. Appleyard (2009) said: “The secrecy is all about preserving the magic of each new product” (3). Apple has always had its way of keeping its latest products and methods a secret from not only competitors but its consumers as well. This is an extremely well thought out marketing tactic because if there is as little information about the product known until its release, the press coverage and conversation around the product will significantly impact the number of people hearing about it.
Another prime example as to why Steve Jobs was so successful in his endeavors was that he is a prime example of the Schumpeterian entrepreneur. Dodgson (2011) discusses innovation and entrepreneurship with a focus on Josiah Wedgwood who he refers to as a quintessential Schumpeterian entrepreneur. However, there are parallels that can be drawn between Wedgwood and Jobs. In the eighteenth century, Wedgwood had built an empire worth €50,000 and Jobs has built up a corporation that further went on to be the world’s first trillion-dollar public company. An entrepreneur according to Dodgson is described as: “the energetic person who ‘identifies new combinations and pushes them through” (1112). Jobs is a prime example of this because he introduced the public to new technologies that they did not know they wanted or even needed at the time. He was a key factor in the success of Apple because he was able to market the company and its products so well and push for perfection and success. Dodgson (2011) also describes entrepreneurship and innovation as: “the creation of new combinations of ideas, knowledge, and resources” (1119). It would be quite ludicrous to even think that Jobs would not fall under this category. His innovation and methods on how to approach the market at the time were extremely concise and well thought out which is what allowed him to reach such great success. In addition, when the emergence of personal computers was becoming increasingly popular, Appleby (2010) discusses that Apple worked its way through to become a marginal player within the field of IBM. This allowed for Jobs’ success within this time period because he knew what he had to do and ensured that it happened in order for Apple to be considered a competitor against the then top company, Microsoft.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Apple is the world’s top technology company to date. Through this analysis of Steve Jobs, it has become clear that the nature of innovation in business is to present the public with something they have never thought about before. These types of innovation are often the most successful because the possibility of their existence has not even been considered possible by the public. Jobs’ success can be attributed to his ability to creatively present these new technologies and predict their success. These qualities can be crucial to innovation in business especially in today’s digital era which can be considered one of the most competitive times for these businesses. Steve Jobs was a prime example of a successful entrepreneur that pushed the boundaries of not only the technology sector but many others afterward. His methods and ideologies were extremely effective in the success of Apple and its success today can most definitely be attributed to the work of Jobs. Through all the failures and even the brink of bankruptcy, Jobs was able to overcome these challenges and create some of the most popular and successful technologies offered on the market.