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Apple and Steve Jobs

April 26th, 2004 · 1 Comment

NYTimes has a profile:

In just two and a half years, Mr. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, has managed to take a well-designed hand-held gadget, add software connecting it to Macintoshes and Windows-based personal computers and convince the recording industry that he has found an elegant solution for ending its nightmare of digital piracy. In doing so, he has shifted the emphasis of Apple from what made it famous – hip, even lovable computers – to what he hopes will keep it relevant and profitable in the future: products for a digital way of life.

With roots both in Silicon Valley’s digital culture and the 1960’s counterculture, Mr. Jobs has long been an arbiter of what is cool in technology, much like a real-world version of a trend-spotting character from “Pattern Recognition,” one of the cyberpunk novels by William Gibson.

And, helped by his growing prominence in Hollywood through his second company, Pixar Animation Studios, Mr. Jobs has attained a level of influence over how life is lived in the digital age that is unmatched by even his most powerful computer industry rivals. “He is the Henry J. Kaiser or Walt Disney of this era,” said Kevin Starr, a culture historian and the California state librarian.

The iPod’s success is also the clearest indication that Mr. Jobs, if he is to successfully revamp Apple, will ultimately win not by taking on PC rivals directly, but by changing the rules of the game.

The Apple that is starting to emerge may be a harbinger. The company’s growth may no longer be defined by its PC market share, now a declining sliver of the PC industry, but instead by Mr. Jobs’s ability to create consumer markets.

Mr. Jobs, who says he has a 70 percent share of the market for legal music downloads and a 45 percent share of the MP3 market, sees the shift as sweet vindication. “We’re getting a chance to see what Apple engineering and Apple design can really do once we get out from underneath the 5 percent Macintosh operating system share,” he said.

for the first time the number of Macintosh computers it sold (749,000). At the same time, revenue for products other than Macintoshes reached 39 percent of the total of $1.91 billion for the quarter, more than double the percentage two years ago.

In creating the iPod, the iTunes Macintosh and Windows software and the iTunes music store, Apple has not just designed products; it has also designed a business system. That may help explain why, almost three years into Mr. Jobs’s foray into digital music, his major competitors are still playing catch-up, or, as in the case of Hewlett-Packard and Time Warner, have decided to ally with him.

Tags: Management

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