Apple became the first company in the world’s history to worth about $1 Trillion on August 2nd 2018. Before now, the company has been the world’s most valuable company since August 2012 when its market capitalization got to $620 billion.
Many of the beautiful gadgets we use today are produced by Apple. It is a world-class company which is loved by millions of people across the globe.
Apple’s journey to greatness wasn’t an easy ride. The company experienced a lot of ups and downs. However, it was able to surmount the challenges it encountered to become what it is today.
In 1971, Steve Jobs met Steve Wozniak at California, USA where they grew up. Bill Fernandez, Jobs’ friend actually introduced Jobs to Wozniak. Jobs got closer to Wozniak when he noticed that Wozniak was very good in electronics, even better than himself.
The first technological development and business venture both Jobs and Wozniak worked on was building ‘blue boxes’. Blue boxes is a technology oxes’. Blue boxes is a technology that made it possible to make long distance phone calls for free. The venture was quite successful to some extent. However, both partners never settled on that level. The wanted more.
Just after the duo had succeeded with the Blue boxes, Wozniak was already working with Hewlett-Packard, HP and building his own computer was one of his long time dream.
In 1976, Wozniak completed his design and built his own computer which would later be called the Apple I. It was the first computer with a typewriter-like keyboard and which had ability to connect to a regular TV as a screen. It was the archetype of every modern computer and could run on BASIC, an early programming language which was actually designed to connect with the user’s TV screen.
When Jobs saw Wozniak’s computer he recognised its brilliance and prospects and he persuaded Wozniak to try convincing his boss at HP to buy into their idea to commercialize apple I but, he declined. Therefore, the young partners, undeterred by the rejection, decided to continue alone.
Funding the business was an initial challenge as Wozniak had to sell his treasured HP 65 programmable calculator for $250 and Jobs sold his Volkswagen car for $1500 to fund the business. One day, Jobs returned from a road trip along with some friends and announced that the name ” Apple Computer” just got to his mind. That was how the company got its name and their first computer named Apple I.
Wozniak and Jobs got one investor named Ron Wayne, and together, on 1st April 1976, Apple Computer Inc was founded.
Marketing Apple I
Wozniak was mainly pre-occupied by trying his hands on new technologies and inventions while Jobs was more focused on the business development aspect of their company.
They got an order for 50 computers from Paul Jay Terrell at $500 per computer and they made a profit of about $8000. This was their first order. Due to this profit, they attracted an angel investor , Mike Markkula who invested $92,000 into the company and this aided them to get a $250,000 loan from the Bank of America for further expansion.
The success of Apple II
Just about the time when Apple I started selling in 1977, Wozniak had already completed a prototype for a latest model called Apple II. Apple I saw some success, but It was Apple II that made the company.
By 1978, Apple was making $2 million in profits because of the Apple II. A unique feature of Apple II was that it allowed computer enthusiasts to create and sell their own programs. Some of the these user-generated programs included VisiCalc, a type of proto-Excel which was the first software with business applications. The demand for Apple II kept increasing as it kept being used by computer programmers.
The company engaged the services of Regis McKenna, who designed the Apple’s logo that you and I know today. The logo showed an apple with a bite taken out of it. The bite in the logo was just to make the apple look more like an apple and less like a cherry tomato.
In 1980, the company went public and by this time much of the company’s organisational structure was already set. Steve Jobs was some sort of choleric with a ” no – nonsense ” approach to leadership and management while Steve Wozniak was the quiet and calm inventor, scientist and genius. The co-founders had started having some rifts and misunderstanding.
Wozniak took a leave of absence in 1981 as he didn’t want to be involved in corporate politics and decided to concentrate on other projects. Also the newly launched Apple III was a failure leading to the lay off of some staff.
Jobs and the management board agreed to add John Sculley to the executive team in 1983. In 1985, the board of directors could no longer bear with Jobs fiery, intense , erratic and often combative management style and forced him to resign.
Steve Jobs Outside Apple
After being forced out of Apple, Jobs was downcast, but he recovered. Between 1985 to 1995, Jobs went on to work on several projects. In 1986, Jobs purchased a large stake in a company called Pixar from George Lucas which gave him some level of control in the company. The company was struggling, but their eventual success in digital animation led to an IPO that earned Jobs around $1 billion.
Along with some former Apple members, Jobs founded a computer platform development company, NeXT, which specialized in computers for higher-education and business markets.
Apple without Steve Jobs
The years following Job’s resignation weren’t pleasant or successful for Apple. By this period, Microsoft launched its own operating system, Windows which became a major competitor with Apple’s Mac OS and subsequently, Apple’s market share began to fall steadily despite its technical superiority.
One of the reasons for this was that Apple’s products were more expensive. The company lost $740m in 1996 leading to the resignation of its new chairman, Gil Amelio. Something had to be done to salvage Apple from total failure and from going bankrupt.
Restoring Apple’s Glory
In 1996, Apple bought NeXT for its operating system, making Jobs to return to his former company. After a unanimous decision, Steve Jobs became the interim CEO of Apple. This time, Jobs was more calm and accommodating, but his visionary and progress driven mindset was still intact.
Jobs restructured the company, and stopped several projects that were not profitable. Jobs also recruited product designer Jonathan Ive to carry out a total overhaul of Mac design. Jobs also ensured that beauty, elegance and aesthetics were incorporated into the design of iMacs, making it more appealing to users. Apple’s market share and profitability began to grow once again and the Mac OS began to compete favourable with Microsoft’s Windows.
Apple’s launch of iPod in 2001, completely revolutionised the music industry by providing an attractive device which was easy and fun to use while allowing users to listen to their own music from electronic files called MP3 files, rather than needing a tape or CD.
In 2003, Apple’s launch of iTunes ( a website which enabled people to download music into their iPods from the internet and even buy songs one at a time, instead of needing to buy entire albums ) made the sales of iPods to increase significantly and in June 2008, Apple announced that over 5 billion songs had been purchased and downloaded from iTunes.
Recently, Apple also amazed consumers when they launched the iPhone, which also had revolutionised the functionality and style of the mobile phone. Apple continues to be innovative in a competitive technological world and the company never cease to amaze consumers with new and beautiful products.
Even though Steve Jobs passed on in October 2011 at age 56, his legacy remains fresh in the minds of people across the world. He salvaged Apple, restored its profitability and placed the company’s brand at the heart of millions of consumers worldwide.
Lessons from Apple’s Story
1. Business partnership and networking is key to business success, especially for start-ups.
Partner with someone who can complement your areas of weakness. Wozniak was an electronics genius, but without Jobs entrepreneurial and marketing skills, Apple may not have grown to what we know it to be today.
2. No matter how talented you may be, learnt to be accommodating, humble and humane. Do not sacrifice humility and vital relationships in pursuit of success and achievement.
3. Failure is never final unless you want it to be. Failure is only a phase and an opportunity to learn new things. Don’t get stopped by temporary failure. Jobs didn’t stop when forced out of Apple in 1985. He went on to develop himself and to prepare for future opportunities and this paid off later.
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