Brief biography of Steve Jobs

  • 1976 – co-founded Apple with his childhood friend Steve Wozniak
  • 1985 – Fired from Apple having lost a power struggle with the board of directors
  • 1986 – Paid $5m for the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm Ltd creating Pixar Animation Studios
  • 1997 – Returned to Apple as CEO
  • 2006 – Sold Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion and became the largest shareholder in Disney
  • 9th August 2011 – Apple briefly overtakes Exxon to become the world’s most valuable company
  • 24th August 2011 – steps down as chief executive

 

Upon returning to apple in 1997, Jobs oversaw a rise in annual revenues from $7.1bn (£4.6bn) in 1997 to the current figure of $65.2bn.

The extent of the rapid success of Apple in recent years was highlighted yesterday by the company’s position in Interbrand’s annual rankings. Apple Inc. broke into the world’s top 10 most valuable brands rising to eighth with a value of $33.5bn. The estimate is based on profit, future earnings estimates and the prominence of the brand and highlights the enormous success of the company since Jobs’ return.

Apple is one of the most innovative companies in the world often praised for its ability to know what the public want before they do. With their ipads they gave the world the tablet; a product that no one had ever heard of yet alone wanted, and yet now so many people cannot do without one. The question for Apple is that with the passing of Jobs does this instantly devalue the brand?

For many people the brand Apple is the brand Steve Jobs. It’s a lot like watching an episode of Dragon’s Den when one of the investors get out their cheque books not because of the business presented to them, but because of their faith in the entrepreneur. It was a worry when Jobs stepped down in August but now it’s an even bigger problem.

When Tim Cook took over as chief executive the company’s shares dropped in value by five per cent in after-hour trading. Whilst clearly bad news this was not as big an impact as many had predicted due to the perceived value of the man to his company. The drop in investor confidence was offset by the assumption that whilst Jobs was no longer in the forefront he would in essence be a backseat driver continuing to dream up new products. But now the company really has lost its genius and the question is whether or not with the loss of Jobs, Apple has lost its advantage.

Of course it’s far too early to tell. The brilliance of Apple over the last decade has been its ability to release one great product after another and so it will be judged on the products it produces without Jobs.

But there is cause for concern. Cook launched an upgrade to the iphone4 on Tuesday and with many people hoping for the iphone5 the atmosphere was one of disappointment. The initial reaction on the US stock exchange was for Apple’s shares to slump by 3.6 per cent immediately after the announcement, although by the end of the day they had recovered to a drop of just 0.6 per cent.

But such results could just indicate an adjustment period. Jobs were famous for his crowd-pleasing product launches. His relaxed style and infectious enthusiasm were part of the appeal of Apple’s products. He was geeky, but he still made his products look cool. Cook failed to get the same energy into his first product launch but then this was a less exciting product, as it was just an update to the iphone4. The first real test will be the launch of the iphone5 but this flat footed start will have done nothing to silence the doubters who believe that Apple hasn’t found the seed required to grow the company tree.

Jobs’ genius has been most clearly highlighted in these times of recession. He’s shown an ability to create essentially elastic products such as tablets and expensive smart phones, and manage to convince consumers that they need them every bit as much as they need bread and milk. Will the company’s development teams be able to continue in this vain or is this the bursting of the Apple bubble?

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