How did Steve Jobs manage Apple's turnaround after he returned to Apple in 1996?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Sindre.S, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. Sindre.S macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2011

    I am currently doing research for an essay in managing and leading organizations at uni. The task is very open and says to analyze how Steve Jobs managed to take Apple from the brink of bankruptcy to one of the most admired companies in the world using theories from the course. It is a fairly simple task to do, but I want to do really well on this essay because Apple's success, story and strategies really intrigues me!

    I am looking for good articles to use in my essay, but would love to hear other opinions and arguments, and discuss them. I will apply management theories as I see them, so there is no need to take account for this if you don't know any.

    To get it started I ask:
    How did Steve Jobs manage Apple's turnaround after he returned to Apple in 1996?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    You're best bet is to use google.

    You'll get some opinions here but nothing that can give you what you ened for your paper.
  3. iLucas macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2011
    He hired Jonathan Ive as the designer for the products. Since Ive has been there he has designed the iMac, titanium and aluminum PowerBook G4, MacBook, unibody MacBook Pro, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
  4. Bernard SG macrumors 65816

    Bernard SG

    Jul 3, 2010
    Simplified the product line. Brought back the focus on the user experience (including that perfectionist approach of product design).
  5. Sindre.S thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2011
    I have used several search engines to find several articles, but I wanted to see if I could get some additional articles or arguments for the paper using the forum.

    Appreciate the tip, google is always my first step ;)
  6. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003

    Please be careful OP, this forum is filled with misinformation. Next thing you know someone will be in here telling you Microsoft saved Apple. :rolleyes:

    Jobs did not hire Ive. Ive was working at Apple 4 or 5 years before Jobs return. Jobs did make him head of industrial design.
  7. iLucas macrumors 6502

    Feb 5, 2011
    My mistake for the use of words. I was meaning the head of industrial design which is why i listed the products. But yes you are right rdowns.
  8. Frankydan100 macrumors regular


    Dec 5, 2010
    Birmingham UK
  9. Sindre.S thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2011
    I read some rumors about Microsoft saving Apple earlier, and when you mentioned it again I felt like I had to figure it out. Turns out that the $150 million that Microsoft invested in Apple stock in 1998 was a part of a down payment of a lawsuit.

    Story is here:
  10. Sindre.S thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2011
    I was considering making an argument about OS X. The article seems very useful for that. Thanks!
  11. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    IMO, he brought simplicity and focus back to Apple, which had been sorely lacking. In their product design, product lineup, management, stock management, development process.. just about everything.

    In a company that size, you don't need 20 VPs each pulling the company in a different direction. With him, and the management team he put in place, everyone knew what to do and what was expected of them and the projects they worked on. And, Apple became a simple, identifiable and attractive brand as a result.

    From a personal perspective, I worked in SQA before and after Jobs' return, and it seemed to me that the 'project lifecycle' had a fundamental change during that period (for external as well as internal reasons) : from a "ship it when it's done" mentality, to a strict "ship it on time" (and patch, if necessary).
  12. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    Many things contribute to Apple's success.

    Their marketing is quite brilliant. To put it simply they make many customers feel like they're buying a product that normally they could not afford, a product for the rich. Like the original iPhone, it was marketed as the ultimate high end phone and its price tag contributed towards and reflected that. With the iPhone 3G, they then halved the price and suddenly the high end ultimate phone was available to the proles. They sold the original iPhone for $499 for a purpose. Not because they wanted $499 for it, but because they wanted to imprint on our minds that one day we might be good enough to own such a phone :rolleyes:

    Of course it's not just that. If you're going to market like that, you better make sure your products are damn good. Which they are. Some people buy Apple products as a status symbol, some buy them because they do a better job. Either way, Apple doesn't care as long as it sees the green.

    Of course all the above related to how did Jobs make Apple so successful, not how did Jobs turn the company away from bankruptcy.

    1. Make sure Apple can fulfil its orders. Apple lost millions because they simply couldn't deliver the products on time. When the stock markets found out, they lost even more.
    2. New board of directors brought a new focus.
    3. Microsoft deal. Whilst a $150 million investment didn't mean much to Apple, having the worlds largest software developer behind you, and releasing it's new Office suite for your platform, did.
    4. Simple product strategy. 4 products: 2 desktop, 2 laptop, 2 consumer, 2 professional.
    5. Designing a great flagship product, the iMac. It was faster than any Wintel machine at any price and it was cheap and looked great.
    6. Advertising

    Some of you might like to read this, it's from 1996
  13. oakie, Apr 21, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011

    oakie macrumors 6502


    Oct 16, 2008
    you should do your own homework. but here are some of the factors you should study:

    1. simplified the product lineup and ended OS licensing, ensuring consistency, timely delivery, ending consumer confusion, and simplifying assembly
    2. established an OS upgrade path to modernize a very old OS (his presence as interim CEO resulted from Apple purchasing his company NEXT OS, the foundation for OSX)
    3. reestablished design as a primary focus of their products. moving Jony Ive from the basement to head of design based on his discovery of Ive's ideas. the first product of this was the iMac (eliminate their current "beige box" lineup)
    4. OS evangelism. reestablished relationships with third-party software manufacturers to maintain OS relevance, starting with Microsoft. (this is where Microsoft's monetary investment was falsely assumed by many to have "saved Apple")
    5. go beyond the PC by developing products outside the traditional PC landscape, the first being iPod.
    6. control sales and profits by establishing an online and retail front to provide better service and give the products the focus they required.
    7. combined all of these things to build value, resulting in higher profit margins

    the idea was to treat the computer more like an appliance and less like a computer in hopes the simplicity would increase sales. Apple's original mantra was to make a computer for the masses and these steps, amongst others, were how they returned Apple to that goal.
  14. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    Wow, the academic rigor of university as slipped when MacRumors is considered a research source. I thought using Wiki as a source was bad.

    OP - this is not a novel or unresearched topic. With the Internet you have access to vast amounts of first person information. You can use the above as opinions and actually mine for the actual data. Good luck.

    In actuality it was a Faustian bargain with Mephistopheles by Jobs that returned him to power and is driving Apple's ongoing success.
  15. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    I read this twice, and it reads two ways.

    'You can use the above as opinions and dig for the actual data' or
    'You can use the above as opinions and actually use my post for the actual data'

  16. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    While I admit the sentence could be taken 2 ways, I'd expect someone from county Cork to infer the implied use of "mine". :p
  17. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    So that's what they called Bill Gates back then? Micro$oft brought $150M in :apple: stock back then. Yeah, back when it was worth less than $20 a pop. That and the continuing development of Office (back when it was still relevant). That's what saved :apple:. So now you have two sources that stated Jobs sold his soul to the MS devil.
  18. ehoui macrumors regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    You might want to start what Apple's position was and what its problems were before Steve came back. Some places to look:

    1) Mac Sales
    2) Product Lines
    3) Revenue and Profitability
    4) Who was buying Apple's products (demographics)
    5) Perceptions / reviews of hardware products
    6) Perceptions / reviews of software products (e.g., Mac OS)
    7) ...

    You are going to need to focus on a few things that Steve did (or at least perceived that Steve did) as opposed to looking at "everything". Also, think about counter-arguments -- maybe Steve was just lucky, or instead of "good design" it was just "good marketing"... etc.
  19. filfortugno macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2010
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  20. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    There were two problems:

    1. A tired and dated operating system that desperately needed an overhaul.

    2. No innovation or real change in the hardware (beige boxes).

    Steve solved these two problems:

    1. He brought home with him the foundation of Mac OSX, an advanced, modern OS.

    2. He reinvented the Macintosh with the colorful iBooks and iMacs.
  21. Sindre.S thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2011
    Thank you, that is massively helpful. I get a lot of tips and ideas from this site that is not in most of the articles I've found, and I use them to refine my search for resources.
  22. Sindre.S, Apr 23, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011

    Sindre.S thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2011
    I never planned on using macrumors as a source for information. I have to refer every argument or fact to a reliable source, which excludes forums, most blogs and wiki. The replies to this tread are used as a source of ideas, opinions and suggestions, which helps me refine my search for sources.

Share This Page