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Steve Jobs's seven key decisions

Benj Edwards | Sept. 19, 2012
When Steve Jobs officially returned to Apple 15 years ago, it marked a moment of rebirth for the ailing company.

In their place, Jobs installed close friends like Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and former Apple VP of Marketing Bill Campbell.

Jobs also restructured Apple as a company, clearing away the many product-centric departments that feuded and competed for company resources. In its place, Jobs installed company-wide departments for marketing, sales, manufacturing, and finance.

Prior to Jobs becoming iCEO, he had convinced Gil Amelio to place certain key NeXT employees in positions of influence at Apple. Most notable was Avie Tevanian, the mastermind behind OS X, who became Apples Senior VP of Software Engineering in February 1997, and Jon Rubinstein, who joined as Senior VP of Hardware Engineering the same month.

Before long, Jobs had hired a variety of NeXT veterans and other high-level employees loyal to the new CEO, which ensured that few executives would question his drastic new policies.

Plugging the leaks

Under Gil Amelio, intentional press leaks from Apple employees occurred frequentlyattempts to embarrass the CEO into changing his policies. That stopped under Steve Jobs. Not long after accepting the position of Interim CEO, Jobs instituted a total ban on Apple employees talking to the press. That, along with key layoffs, helped quell dissent within the company.

Over the years, Jobss no-press policy also had the effect of creating the strict veil of secrecy, suspense, and surprise that accompanied Apple product announcements. By tightly controlling the flow of information out of Apple, Jobs kept the tech media in the palm of his hand.

Burying the hatchet

During his first tenure at Apple, Steve Jobs had been largely responsible for portraying the battle for the PC marketplace as a direct conflict between Apple and IBM. As an extension, that pitted Apple against Microsoft, the company that provided the IBM PCs operating system and later sought to duplicate the look and feel of the graphical Macintosh OS with Windows.

The animosity between underdog Apple and market leader Microsoft continued well past 1985, when Jobs resigned from Apple. The rift became a part of Apple culture that manifested itself as a deep loathing for everything Microsoft or Wintel. Meanwhile, the Macintoshs market share shrank down to single digits.

By 1996, Jobs had been comfortably removed from the situation long enough to admit that the desktop PC wars were over; Microsoft had won. It was counterproductive, Jobs thought, to spend money and energy fighting a battle against Microsoft that could not be won. No, Apple would have to play it cool and compete on its own terms. In the meantime, it would help to have the Redmond giant on its side instead of directly opposed to the struggling company.

In exchange for a patent cross-licensing deal, Microsoft vowed to devote significant manpower to developing new versions of Office and Internet Explorer for the Macintosh for at least five years. Microsoft also agreed to buy $150 million in Apple stock, which insured a vested interest in Apples success. In return, Apple also agreed to make Internet Explorer the default browser for Mac OS for five years.

 

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