Frank Rose on Apple Under Steve Jobs

Question: What has Steve Jobs’ impact been on Apple?

Frank Rose: What happened was he had started—Jobs had started his own computer company—called NeXT. The hardware wasn’t terribly successful, but the software was quite good, and Apple was in the position where it desperately needed software so they brought—Apple bought—Jobs’s company and brought Jobs in as a sort of an adviser. Within a few months the CEO was fired and Jobs kind of stepped into the bridge and for a while acted as interim CEO, he reorganized the board, eventually, obviously, became the permanent CEO. But, along the way he radically reorganized the company. He put into practice many of the ideas that he had wanted to put into practice in the mid-80s, when he and Sculley were having their problems with one another. And within, literally, a period of months the company became profitable again and began to capture people’s imaginations with an innovative and very compelling, very sexy, series of products; starting with revamped max and ultimately continuing into the iPod and then, most recently, the iPhone. And dramatically successful marketing: suddenly Apple became cool to have—it became the cool thing to have—and at the same time it also had the kind of manufacturing discipline and the disciple in terms of product lines that. It began to send a clear message and it began to execute really well on its plans and that’s why it’s been so successful.

Recorded on: May 21, 2009

Jobs’ rise to CEO was not a guarantee at the beginning.

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