Steve Jobs was known for his bold vision, but that kind of success doesn’t come without taking any risks.
Jobs co-founded Apple and brought the company back to life after he briefly left, saving it from crashing. That meant making hard choices and going with decisions he wasn’t sure were going to work out.
Jobs’ history at Apple is full of them, and Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli document them well in their new book “Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader.”
Jobs made plenty of hiring decisions that didn't work out, but his big bet on John Sculley might have been the riskiest. Jobs convinced Scully to come to Apple in 1983 and believed he would be the right Fortune 500 executive to help him lead the company. But, despite Scully's experience at PepsiCo, it turns out there were a lot of things Scully didn't understand about Apple's business, as Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli write in their book. It didn't end well.
Then he tried to get Sculley fired when things didn't work out. Ultimately, that move backfired on Jobs.
When Jobs' relationship with Sculley didn't turn out like he had imagined, he planned to get him fired. He told his closest confidants that he intended to oust Sculley over Memorial Day weekend while Sculley was in China. But Jean-Louis Gassee, Apple's director of European operations at the time, ratted on Jobs. The whole board turned against him.
Apple's '1984' commercial may be one of the most famous ads in history. Jobs didn't even let Apple's board see the ad until the day before the Super Bowl in 1984, and they were horrified, according to Schlender and Tetzeli's book. They even sold one of their ad blocks so that the commercial only appeared once.
Although the first Mac received rave reviews and was brilliantly engineered, it was underpowered. 'In fact, the original Mac did just about everything at a glacial pace,' Scheldner and Tetzeli write. But that didn't stop Apple from pricing it at $US1,995, which is part of the reason sales for the first Mac weren't too great.
While Steve Jobs returned to Apple, after running another computer company he started called NeXT, a man named Gil Amelio was the CEO of Apple. The company was a disaster at this point, and Jobs didn't think very highly of him -- in fact, he thought he was a bozo.
To signal his displeasure, Jobs dumped all but one of the shares he had gotten for selling NeXT to Apple without telling anyone. He had one share, so he was still able to attend Apple's annual meeting, 'but the sale was a high-decibel vote of no confidence,' write the authors. 'Amelio felt stabbed in the back, as he was.'
One of Jobs' first decisions when he returned as CEO was to replace nearly all of Apple's board of directors. He believed they were partially responsible for the problems Apple faced under the Amelio era.
Jobs refused to put support for Adobe Flash on the original iPhone and iPad. He was angry because Adobe co-founder John Warnock had shown favour towards Microsoft's products. It was a big bet back then, since most multimedia content on the Web was powered by Flash.
Although it seems strange to have a phone without a touchscreen today, it was a big deal back in 2007. Everyone was used to physical keys before the iPhone, either because they were used to typing on a BlackBerry or a flip phone. The iPhone was the first phone to launch with an all-touchscreen form factor and no option for physical keys.
Apple had tried to strike a deal with Verizon first, but the carrier didn't like that Apple wanted to control the user interface for the iPhone, as Schlender and Tetzeli write in their book. AT&T eventually agreed, but it was a hard challenge to convince the carriers to give up a control of a mobile product. But Jobs believed he needed more control for the iPhone to be a hit.
The original iPhone had a ton of flaws when Jobs first demoed it on stage. It was filled with glitches, and it hadn't really been tested in the wild. But AT&T was getting antsy, so Jobs felt Apple had to put on a show.
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