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Remembering Steve Jobs, the man who saved Apple

Macworld Staff | Oct. 6, 2011
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died Wednesday after a long illness. He was 56. Jobs, who reigned as Apple CEO for 14 years, resigned his post in August 2011 and was replaced by Tim Cook, who previously was the company's Chief Operating Officer. Jobs, in turn, was elected as chairman of Apple's board of directors.

"People just don't want to buy personal computers any more," Jobs said in a 2001 video introducing the stores and their philosophy. "They want to know what they can do with them. And we're going to show to them exactly that."

Four years after the introduction of OS X, Jobs and Apple instituted another transition--this one away from the PowerPC architecture to chips built by Intel. It was a big gamble for a company that had relied on PowerPC processors since 1994, but Jobs argued that it was a move Apple had to make to keep its computers ahead of the competition. "As we look ahead... we may have great products right now, and we've got some great PowerPC product[s] still yet to come," Jobs told the audience at the 2005 Worldwide Developers Conference. "[But] we can envision some amazing products we want to build for you and we don't know how to build them with the future PowerPC road map."

The transition went much faster--and much smoother--than anyone, including Apple, had anticipated, thanks in large part to Rosetta. The dynamic translator let applications designed for PowerPC systems run on Intel-based Macs, giving developers time to revamp their products for Apple's Intel-based future. In fact, PowerPC apps only became obsolete this summer when Apple retired Rosetta with the introduction of Mac OS X Lion.

Beyond the Mac

Of course, the assorted transitions during Jobs's reign as CEO weren't confined to the Mac. Perhaps the greatest transition Jobs initiated was moving Apple away from being just a software and computer maker and into the lucrative world of consumer electronics. The shift became official in 2007 when Apple dropped the word "Computer" from its name, simply calling itself Apple Inc.

The shift began with the iPod. When Apple unveiled its music player in the fall of 2001, the market for MP3 players was in its early stages. Devices at the time relied on small amounts of flash memory that could hold only a handful of songs. In short, it was a field that was ripe for innovation--and innovate Apple did with the iPod. The device's 5GB capacity gave it the storage space to, in Apple's words, "put 1000 songs in your pocket." And while not the first hard-drive-based digital music player on the market--Creative's Nomad series beat it to the punch--the iPod had something going for it that no other company could match: software integration. Though iTunes debuted earlier in 2001, it was with the iPod's fall introduction that the pieces clicked into place and Apple's ecosystem started to take shape.

Still, at the time, the iPod met with heavy skepticism. Why was Apple, a computer company, making a portable music player? "We love music," Jobs said during the iPod's introduction. "And it's always good to do something you love."

 

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