Musthafa Ebadi
My Tribute to Steve Jobs
by Musthafa Ebadi on August 25th, 2011

On 24 February 1955 when Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali - a political sciences professor from Syria - were blessed by a son little did they know that they had given life to the most revolutionary thinker and innovator of the 21st century. The unwed college graduates Joanne Simpson and Abdulfattah Jandali named their son Steve and had him adopted by a lower-middle-class couple from south of the Bay Area, Paul and Clara Jobs.

Growing up in Silicon Valley Steve was really fascinated by the computers, technology, and microchips, had a knack for seeing beyond the horizon, and demonstrated passion for creativity from an early age.

Steve Jobs co-founded Apple, ran it with an iron fist and dictated even the smallest details about the company's products and strategy, translating his own personal values as a Buddhist and strict vegan into sleek, minimalist products. Whether we agree or not with his leadership and management style is a different topic but there is no denial that the man is a legend and under his leadership Apple transformed from a company that lost $1.045 billion in 1997 to the most valued company in the world with revenue of $65 billion and a net profit of $14 billion in a short span of 13 years. Here is how he did it.
After enrolling at the expensive Reed College in Oregon- way too pricey for his modest parents – Steve dropped out after 1st semester and did quite few strange things in his “hippie” years including traveling to India with a friend to seek enlightenment at age 19.

After Steve came back to America, he focused on his childhood friend Steve Wozniak’s work on a computer board. When he saw that many people were interested this board they decided to sell the board to them and thus he co-founded Apple Computer at the age of 21 with Steve and another mutual friend Ronald Wayne

For the first year they started assembling more computer boards in Jobs’ garage and working on a much improved computer, the Apple II. Steve saw a great opportunity and set out find venture capitalists to fund Apple’s expansion in 1997. Finally he made a deal Mike Markkula, a former Intel executive who invested $250,000 in their business and assured them their company would enter the Fortune 500 list in less than two years. As a result, Apple-II became the hottest commodity and the company grew at a very fast rate going public after just four years of existence. Steve Jobs’ net worth passed the $200 million mark on that day — he was only 25.

From the beginning Steve had a knack for thinking outside the box, always creative, and not afraid to take risks. For example in 1983, Steve Jobs lured John Sculley away from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple's CEO, by asking him, "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Also in 1984 Steve launched the first Macintosh in Apple's annual shareholders meeting with such a great emotion that people described the scene as “pandemonium”
At the same time there were a lot of tension within Apple between Steve, John Sculley, and their board of directors. And finally in summer of 1985 Apple's board sided with John and stripped Steve off all executive duties because he was considered too temperamental for an executive. And in September of that year he announced to the Apple board that he was leaving Apple to form a new company, called NeXT, which he ran with obsession for aesthetic perfection and in 1993 Jobs transitioned NeXT fully to software development with the release of NeXTSTEP/Intel.

In late 1980s and early 1990s Apple suffered huge setbacks due to introducing bad product lines, stiff competition from IBM, and an unwillingness to innovate. And after the release of Windows 95, Mac started losing market share at an alarming rate. By 1996, the company’s newly appointed CEO, Gil Amelio, was looking for new software to replace the old and bloated Mac OS. Apple finally chose NexXT and paid $400 million to acquire it. This would not only make NeXT technology the foundation of the Mac OS X operating system but will also bring back Steve Jobs to Apple's management – the company he had co-founded and the company that had thrown him out a decade earlier. His official title was that of “informal adviser to the CEO.”

Then in the first quarter of 1997 when Amelio announced Apple’s losses of $700 million, the board decided it was time to get rid of this “terrible” manager. Steve Jobs organized a board coup and was named interim CEO of Apple in July 1997. He immediately started an extensive review of the whole company, cutting the number of projects from hundreds to a dozen. The number of hardware products would be cut down to just four. As an innovative leader he stunned the world at Macworld Boston in August when he announced Apple would be teaming up with its arch-rival Microsoft, in an unprecedented deal that would put an end to interminable patent disputes. This was his first major move in turning Apple fortunes.

Steve is known as someone who always thinks differently and in early 1998 he launched a revolutionary marketing campaign around a new slogan: Think Different.

Thinking different, he introduced an innovative personal computer in May of 1998: iMac. The iMac’s stunning translucent design blew away the whole personal computer industry, and as a hot seller it was essential in bringing back tons of developers to the Mac platform. Steve Jobs continued his innovation in 1998 and 1999 with the colored iMacs and iBooks – at a time that a PC or Laptop was only beige or black. He captured the imagination of millions and brought Apple back to greatness and finally in January of 2000 accepted to become a full time CEO of Apple.
However the greatest momentum for Apple came from the iPod. Once again Steve Jobs’ brilliance and thinking beyond his time realized that he had misplaced his enthusiasm for ability to “edit movies on the computer”. At the turn of the century it was not movies but digital music that Steve bet his dollars on and directed his team to work on Apple’s own MP3 player, which was brought to market in record time, just in time for 2001’s holiday season.

iPod’s breakthrough features —beautiful design, brilliant user interface and click wheel, fast FireWire connectivity and ability to sync with iTunes seamlessly — made it a hot seller from the start. It also helped the company sell more iMac and iBook so people could use this little music player with a size of a cigarette box. Apple cashed in on that success and went further in the following years, first by making iPod Windows-compatible in 2002, then by opening the iTunes Music Store and developing a Windows version of iTunes in 2003. By 2006 Steve had continually pushed innovation at Apple in its music business by introducing iPod mini, iPod shuffle then iPod nano.

Apple was doing great in these years and from an almost bankrupt company it became a dominant player at the global stage. Any other leader would probably take rest for few years and try to reap the fruits of all his/her hard work – but not Steve Jobs.

At the time when smartphone was a synonym for Blackberry and used only by business users, at the time that an average consumer carried a laptop/desktop, a mobile phone, a camera, and an MP3 player with them, and at a time that SMS was the coolest feature of mobile phones Steve Jobs brought the biggest revolution in our lives when in January of 2007 he introduced iPhone at Macworld.. Its beautiful hardware running on Apple’s full operating system, OS X., multi-touch technology, web surfing and iPod capabilities, easy-to-use interface, email, calendar, and more, made it an ultimate smartphone “light-years ahead of its competition”. With this master piece Steve Jobs was able to put a computer, an iPod, a camera and a phone in your pocket. Later in 2009 Apple built on the idea of iPhone and introduced yet another game changer in the computer world when it launched the iPad line of products.
To me Steve Jobs is a genius. He is a visionary, creative, and revolutionary leader that saw the opportunities beyond our years, and someone whose success can be attributed to his dedication and seeking perfection.

What we take for granted today – being connected with work, family, friends 24/7, carrying a computer in our pockets, and ability to do everything from shopping, watching TV, reading, to playing games with a single click – is legacy of Steve Jobs.

Jobs not only gave the world a revolutionary product line he forced other hi tech companies to do the same which ultimately made the life of consumer so much better, so much efficient, and so much productive.

Where Apple goes from here is anyone’s guess but last time Steve Jobs left Apple to company went from one of the elite companies in the world to the verge of bankruptcy. To me Apple is at cross roads right now – they will either continue to walk to the path of Steve Jobs and grow organically or they will become history in the near future. We will have to find out.

Thanks for reading!


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