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America's Most Successful Companies: Steve Jobs and Apple Inc.

When Steve Jobs died on 5th October 2011, America - indeed the whole world - was held in a fitting pause. Whose life had not been made richer by a MacBook Pro? An iPhone? iTunes? These are just some of the products that enjoyed enthusiastic market reception following Jobs’ assumption of CEO role with the Apple Company in 1997. For many people, it is difficult to think of Jobs without thinking of Apple products and their impact on information technology and the social media. Under the leadership of Jobs, Apple introduced new technology and products that took the world market by storm. What made him and Apple so successful? In Harry McCracken’s article, Jobs emerges as an exceptionally gifted entrepreneur.

Jobs had a good eye for design and simplicity. When he co-founded Apple in 1976 with his friend Steve “Woz” Wozniak, Woz did most of the engineering work involved. But Jobs contributed strongly to the design of the products with an eye for easier use by consumers. Although the managing board found him incompetent to make managerial decisions and he resigned in 1985, he went on to create NeXT, another computer company. When Apple later bought NeXT, Jobs returned to the company with the same ideals. One of his initial successes was revolutionizing the music industry with the iPod and iTunes products.

Jobs also insisted on high quality products with cutting edge technology, earning the reputation of being a technological re-inventor and visionary. His insistence on the best sometimes translated into autocratic micromanagement. But his teams did deliver. After putting his company’s best in a product, Jobs took unabashed pride in presenting it to the world, making the unveiling of the products seem like an irresistible invitation to an experience he himself could not wait to go through again. Bud Tribble, a Mac software architect, called this tendency the Reality Distortion Field. Jobs did not just create quality products; he also knew how to sell those products.

Many people came to see Jobs as the very embodiment of Apple. Whereas this is a bit of a stretch, it does reflect how a CEO can be so immersed in the company that it appears he lives and breathes it. For Jobs, it was a devoted commitment, not merely to the company in and of itself, but to what the company was seeking to achieve: cutting edge technology in accessible design.

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