When Apple’s Steve Jobs announced last week thathe was stepping down as CEO of the company he founded to take over as chairman of the tech giant’s board, it was an end of an era. People around the globe have watched for years as Jobs led a technology juggernaut from the brink of extinction in the mid-1990s to the world’s largest company in terms of market capitalization.
His success is nothing short of astounding. It’s hard to remember now that Apple was nearly sold out to Sun Microsystems for a relative pittance in the late ’90s before Jobs returned to head the then floundering company.
But Jobs’ legacy stretches far beyond what he accomplished at Apple. Jobs has brought products to the market that have helped spawn entirely new industries. And when he entered established markets, he quickly revolutionized how consumers thought about products and how the competition thought about its own offerings. Simply put, Steve Jobs has changed the technology space in a host of ways.
Read on to find out how:
1. He made slick design a requirement
First and foremost, Steve Jobs cared about product design. He realized long ago that consumers are attracted to good-looking products. Whether it’s a car or a computer, they want something that looks nicer than all similar products on the market. Thanks to his keen eye, Jobs was able to deliver that to them. In the process, he proved to all competitors that to keep up with Apple they better design products that are good-looking as well as innovative.
2. He brought secrecy to the fore
Looking around the technology space, there are a host of companies that have allowed leaks to run amok. They come up with ideas in-house, and next thing they know, information that they didn’t want to share with the public got out. But at Apple, leaking information to the public is a crime that’s punishable with firing, and the company can be ruthless about enforcing its secrecy policy. The effect of this policy, established and perfected by Jobs, is that it created a rumor mill unlike any other in the tech space that keeps Apple’s name and every possible move in the news. Other companies wish they could enforce such a regimen as successfully.
3. A corporate culture customers were engaged in
One of the big mistakes companies in the technology industry make is to create a corporate culture that only the employees know about. At Apple,Steve Jobs brought consumers and enterprise users into the culture, schooling them on the idea that his company was a premium provider of premium products. He has succeeded in getting Apple’s fan base to buy into this proposition. It was a tremendous move. It’s something that other companies in the space are now trying to emulate.
4. Leveraging a fan base
When Steve Jobs took over at Apple for the second time, he really wanted to capitalize on his company’s small, but dedicated fan base. He realized that it was central to his firm’s future, and he needed those folks to be unpaid spokespeople for his products. Since then, his company’s fan base has exploded, and now,tens of millions of people around the globe will defend the brand at any cost. In many ways, that dedicated fan base has changed the technology industry in a major way. It guarantees Apple’s dominance; it keeps competitors at bay; and for third-party accessories makers or app developers, it’s a potential cash cow. Make no mistake, Apple’s dedicated fan base means everything.
Jobs Keeps Staying Ahead of the Crowd
5. Better pricing doesn’t mean cheaper
Too often today, companies think that to appeal to consumers, they’ll need to beat the pricing of competitors. But Steve Jobs has shown the industry a different way. His products are more expensive than their counterparts, and they have higher sales. Apple is able to do that because it has a reputation for delivering high quality for the money. Now, other companies are trying to establish the same approach. But whether or not they will be able to see the same sales performance (and high margins) remains to be seen.
6. Changing the face of entertainment
When Steve Jobs became CEO of Apple again, the music industry was enjoying itself. Physical media was the best way to get tracks, and consumers were forced to buy players that could only play a handful of songs at a time. But then he changed that with the iPod-a device that, history has proved, is one of the finest products ever launched. It transformed how people listen to music, it affected the retail industry, and it practically turned the music business on its head.That’s Steve Jobs for you: changing multiple industries with a single device.
7. Tablets galore
Prior to the iPad’s launch in 2009, tablets were available, but none rose above the level of niche products. In fact, the market was practically nonexistent. But then the iPad entered the fray, and all that changed. Now, tablets are everywhere, and many believe they will continue to take down netbooks and lightweight notebooks. Not bad. Thanks to Jobs, an entire marketplace was created and several others were drastically altered.
8. Touch screens everywhere
The iPad’s ability to revolutionize the industry wouldn’t have been possible without the iPhone. That device, which came with a 3.5-inch touch screen at its launch in 2007, dramatically changed how people bought mobile products and what buyers expected to see in these devices. Prior to the iPhone’s launch, consumers were content with devices featuring smaller displays and physical keys. But now, that’s not the case. Consumers today want devices with big displays and touch screens. Without them, devices will fail. Just ask RIM.
9. Making tech “cool”
Over the years, technology hasn’t necessarily been viewed as the “coolest” thing for people to be into. But afterSteve Jobs shook things up at Apple and offered up some of the finest products in the market, all that changed. These days a neat gadget is a necessity for someone who wants to be viewed as a stylish, or “cool,” person. Unfortunately for other companies, typically that means buying a Mac, iPhone and iPad.
10. Ditching tired products
Steve Jobs has been known to ditch tired old products and bring on the latest and greatest technologies. Even as of late, he has been an agent of change. Rather than continue to include DVD drives in his company’s computers, before he left as CEO, Jobs started to ditch them. He also offered up a disc-less version of Mac OS X “Lion” for download in the Mac App Store. But it’s not always discontinuing what he believes are old ideas. Jobs made Apple one of the first computer makers to adopt USB technology. He’s doing it again with the high-speed ThunderBolt I/O technology. Simply, Steve Jobs has never been shy about being the first to drop obsolescent technology and establishing new trends and technical standards. That trait alone could define his legacy.