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Steve Jobs – Innovation on the Go

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Steve Jobs did not invent the cell phone. He made the iPhone better. Steve Jobs did not invent the digital music player. He made the iPod better. Steve Jobs did not invent the portable tablet. He made the iPad better. These three products from Apple, Inc. made Jobs a fortune, and cemented his place in history as an innovator beside Ben Franklin and Thomas Edison. As a company, Apple has had a stable of loyalists who stand by everything the company makes. With Jobs back at the helm the last 15+ years, the company has reshaped the culture and how information is distributed across the planet. For Jobs, however, success came in waves. What resulted was a change in how we as a public access information.

For Jobs, his career began with his friendship with Steve Wozniak. First, the two friends began as phone hackers. That’s right, phone hackers. It wasn’t called hacking back in the early 70s, it was called phone phreaking. Wozniak built a blue box to access phone networks and sold them to hack into phone networks. Out of the interest in phreaking, Wozniak began to branch out into computers. The Homebrew Computer Club began to draw the interest of Wozniak. The club saw Wozniak try and fail many times in building the computers. What came about was the Apple I. Soon the Apple II followed and Apple was on it way.

In the 1980s, Jobs fought for control within the company. In 1984, the Macintosh with its user interface (mouse) made waves but the actual computer was quite limited in what it could do. What the Mac needed was software. To achieve that, Jobs turned to a young software company named Microsoft. Still Macintosh sales were slow. Jobs was forced out of the company in favor of former Pepsi CEO John Scully.

Next for Jobs was a company called Next. Next did not go well. Sure, they came out with a sleek, and slick, all black design. The computer did not catch on. However, the operating system was drew rave reviews. In addition to software development, Jobs had overtaken Pixar in 1986. Using the talents of John Lassiter, Toy Story was born. Upon its release in 1995, Toy Story joined the pantheon of great American films. Eventually, Jobs took Pixar public and made billions before the company was absorbed into Disney.

In 1996, Jobs, much wiser from his time away from Apple, was a different man. He was more secretive, and less in your face (to his competitors but not his employees). Jobs returned to the company he started. For the next 15 years, Jobs took a company on the brink of failure, streamlined and simplified products and product lines.

Jobs said,

“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” and ““That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

To keep the company afloat, Bill Gates invested $150 million in Apple. In addition, the “Think Different” campaign brought the company back into the American Consciousness. Using a variety of figures from history, innovators all, the slogan caught on.

In 1998, the iMac appeared. 6 million units were sold making it the largest selling computer in history.

In 2001, Jobs turned the music industry on its ear first with iTunes. Songs cost 99 cents. The song became the thing, not the album. When the iPod was released in October of 2001, the device changed how people listen to music. They listen to it everywhere. The CD was dead, and the iPod was King.

Throughout the 2000s, Apple and jobs began to be at the forefront of innovation. The greatest being the iPhone and the iPad. Jobs was the face of Apple. He loved the simple and sleek looks of his products along with the easy to use aspects. The price, however, was not as good. Initially, the costs of the products was substantial. Today, Apple computers (MacBook Pro) are expensive. iPhones had an $800 startup cost and had limited service until its 2010 deal with Verizon.

Since 2004, Jobs had been battling Pancreatic cancer. Over the next seven years, Jobs lost weight but continued to do his job and show up at product launches. Eventually, the cancer would claim his life.

Above all else, what Jobs and Apple created were not just products. Rather, what made the products impressive was the ability of the user to be mobile. No longer do you have to be plugged in to listen to your music, see your photos, or access the Internet. You can do it all from the palm of your hand.

As Jobs said at Stanford in 2005:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

Here is a great documentary on the iPod and how it changed the world

Here is a good documentary on the career of Jobs