back to article Apple under Jobs: from muck to mountaintop

Steve Jobs has been crowned CEO of the Decade by the preeminent house organ of US corporate shillery, Fortune magazine. Love him or hate him - or both - Jobs has earned the honor. Fortune's panting panegyric covers the now-familiar saga of Jobs's rescue of Apple from the jaws of disaster, spiced with details of how he reshaped …

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Love him or Loathe him

He is damn good at his job

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Pint

it takes a harvard prof...

to figure out the obvious? "Control the message" is a slag for "game the media", which is what Apple have finessed, and what the media don't really like. Nobody wants to be a puppet on a string (and good for you el-reg, choosing the high ground on this :), but witnessing how Apple can now get front page coverage for just updating its website, shows who has the upper hand.

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h 6
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Question:

But does he throw chairs, and acts as if he were stomping a Palm Pre?

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Bollocks!

I'm no big Jobs fan, but it is pathetic to suggest that Apple succeeds because of secrecy, paranoia and game the media. There are many secret, paranoid and media gaming companies that don't get anywhere. Apple succeed because they know how to deliver products and branding to the markets they target.

Next from Reg logic: Microsoft was a huge success because Bill Gates dropped out of college. Now that Microsoft is being run by a graduate they're going to fail.

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Doing it right

Apple hasn't been without missteps this last decade, but it's been so right so much more often than it's been wrong - and more importantly done more right than its peers - that it's doing very well.

Now it's not just a PC company and a software company - it's a music and video and application vendor, a phone vendor, a home video appliance vendor, a personal pocket media vendor too. In all these fields it has room to grow. If they continue to execute as well and grow their base there's a long bright future ahead.

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Jobs Horns

I loathe him

@James 55: I loathe the slimy so-so - he makes BGIII look nice (in his business role, of course - I have no opinion of him in the personal sense). But yes, it is all the things I loathe about him that have made him such a good CEO for Apple. I think the award is fair.

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Sssshhhhh........

Apple Fanboys,...especially you young 'uns only since 1992 or so......... Please realize that owning a Mac is like knowing where is the best restaurant in town..... Tell one or two of your very best friends, and then SHUT THE F*CK UP.....

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iBling and Control

Nothing exciting about that.

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Gates Halo

Jobs the Saviour?

No mention of having to go begging to BillG for over $150 million to jump start apples recovery without which he wouldn't have been able to do anything regardless of how ruthless he is and Apple would now be consigned to history

If anything all the fanboys should be hailing Microsoft as the saviour of Apple

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Grenade

So...

...he's CEO of the decade because he places making money above being a decent person, which makes him perfect CEO material.

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Coat

It's 'cos he's good you hate him.

Any chance we can get him here to run the UK?

Mine's the one by the door, if we can't I'll pick it up as i switch the light out.

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@ Grumpyton

Not a bad idea that!

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lawsuit

"No mention of having to go begging to BillG for over $150 million"

Well it was less begging and more to do with MS copying certain video software and getting themselves in trouble, then having to give Apple some money and support for Office on Mac.

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jai
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re: It's ironic.

but the thing is, they tried all those things you suggest in the 90s when they got rid of Jobs and very nearly killed the company until Jobs came back, and put his vision and his controls back in place

what's changed in the last 15 years that means it'd be any different if it happened again now?

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@Dave 142

Since when have facts ever bothered Microsoft or their fans?!

@Jim Coleman: "So he's CEO of the decade because he places making money above being a decent person, which makes him perfect CEO material." Yes, Jim. It is what has made him and Apple successful. Is it *that* hard to understand?

@AC 06/11/09 10:45 GMT: Interesting opinion. Look at the last few financial quarters. Apple are showing a sustained growth *in a recession* in both market share AND fiscally, and most would argue that this will continue for quite some time. Microsoft are exhibiting exactly the opposite, albeit I believe this to be temporary, or at least until Ballmer is asked to clear his desk. Growth is something that Apple have enjoyed lots of under Jobs, his record is excellent. It's also worth pointing out that Jobs is of the mind set that thinks that posting strong profits and making good products is far more important than having market share. CEO of the decade? There aren't many businesses that have done as well as Apple in the last decade.

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re: it's ironic

Learn before you write.

Apple's iTunes has an accepted method for syncing third party media devices, which the Palm Pre specifically does not use. If it did, it'd work fine. Instead, they've broken the terms of their USB license and may well lose the right to include USB in their products.

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Microsoft bailout

Sigh, MS fanboys love to make out like Apple owes it's life to Microsoft's investment. Let's not forget that by investing that $150m in Apple, Microsoft was ensuring sales of MS Office on the Mac platform for decades to come. MS also sold those stocks for a healthy profit. Ultimately they made a huge return (in stock profit and future Office sales) for a relatively small investment. Also, had MS not made that investment it's likely that Apple would have found the investment somewhere else.

@AC re: "It's ironic"

Your logic flies in the face of evidence. The whole reason Apple became so successful is by doing a few things well instead of a lot of things badly. Apple doesn't want to be all things to all people. They don't want 95% of the computer market with all the headaches that come with supporting a myriad of hardware concoctions.

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Jobs Horns

@magnetik

Actually, Apple does want, and once had a large % of the desktop computer market. PCs used to be the "underdog computer" and Macs were kind of expensive when they were first launched (price tags much higher than now, but quality was high as well) but the Apple II was pretty much THE personal computer of the 80's. Even with the high-priced Macs, the Macintosh was the best computer to have for office stuff; it had a GUI, it had PageMaker, and I'm pretty sure that MS Office began on that platform. Even the "one-button" mouse was considered an improvement, as the two-buttoned mouse for the PC was confusing, as most programs rarely used the second button, so it wasn't seen as something useful.

Apple's opening up didn't "nearly kill" Apple as some seem to argue; it was the incompetence in management that made some projects lag. How can you explain the Newton not gaining traction? It was a damn fine PDA *years* before the term was born, *years* before Palm and however it just never got off the ground. And on the opening up, some point that the problem with Apple was that they opened up *too late* on the Mac; by the time the Power Computing Mac clones came to be, the market share had already tilted to Microsoft's empire. Win95 closed the learning curve gap between Mac System 7 users and Windows users, and this would be the point where most Mac users started to jump ship.

In fact, I'd point out that bad management is actually *limiting* Apple this time around; they'll never have a big market share as long as it stays with the control zealot culture.

I would display my 1986 Mac Plus with pride if I still had it ... but there's very little chance I'll buy an Apple Product as long as Jobs is still in its helm.

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FAIL

@Its Ironic AC

Gil? Gil Amelio? Is that you buddy? Long time no see!

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He needs bigger challenge for his best work

Jobs does his best work when he has to prove his value to the board of directors. Once he is crowned king of the company, things start to slide. Its happened with every company he has worked for. I wonder where Apple would be today if the board wasn't so convinced of his magic. Maybe the bug count on Snow Leopard would be lower or maybe the XSevers would be running fast power 7.

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Jobs Horns

He's not the messiah

Let's fix a few misconceptions up-

At the time of the Microsoft agreement there were 9 lawsuits underway between Apple and M$. Apple found some evidence that would have sunk at least one case and cost M$ shedloads. So instead of settling out of court in the normal way, Steve did something very smart- he got Microsoft to invest $150m (non voting shares), and commit to another 5 years of Office for Mac development. I could complain that he didn't get Bill to come on stage and kiss his ring, but Bill appeared by video, and that was good enough. Look at what Microsoft got- this settled ALL of the outstanding lawsuits, they didn't lose and get pilloried for stealing (which they allegedly did). They also bought some shares that went up- waaaaay up.

What did Apple get? Bill committing to Office Mac, some cash, but most of all- the impression held by most of the world that Microsoft thought that Apple were a good bet, an absolutely incalculable benefit.

Never forget that even in the worst of times, Apple never had less than about $900m in cash and short term bonds. They never came close to running out of cash, this is a common misconception.

One of the other things people forget is that Gil Amelio is a very smart guy. Steve is credited with tidying up the product line, cutting the confusing Performa bundles etc, but not many remember that it was Gil Amelio who said (paraphrasing)

'we have way too many product lines. We now have 19 different motherboard designs and xx different skus. This is going to change. In months, we will have 5 different motherboard designs' Cue sharp intake of breath.... in a few months he was gone, and Steve got the credit. Granted he went much further, and with hindsight it was necessary.

<here comes the rant> You know, I made a lot of money out of Apple, and they made shedloads from me. But one thing that strikes me right now is that rather than find a way to help resellers (buy them out?) or have them go quietly into the night, he intends to simply send them broke. I was one of those who stayed with Apple during the bad times, and rather than help my business, they appointed 5 other stores in my area, and 9 for ipods. That sent us broke, then they chased me into bankruptcy even when they knew there was no more money to be had. Now there are no resellers in my area, all the others went titsup or moved. </rant>

Steve deserves CEO of the decade. But we sell things to each other ultimately so we can get more complex things, work at our specialisation and have a better life. Thus (in my mind) there is a social responsibility component to business. Steve (and thus the rest of Apple) fail miserably at that.

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@ Daniel B

"Actually, Apple does want, and once had a large % of the desktop computer market"

No, they don't. They might want a large % of the premium market, which is what they have, but they clearly are not at all interested in the lower market or there would be a bunch of cheap models amongst their offerings.

"In fact, I'd point out that bad management is actually *limiting* Apple this time around; they'll never have a big market share as long as it stays with the control zealot culture"

Limiting them how? They're in business to make money and, despite having a small market share, they're one of the most profitable computer companies around and having their best financial year ever. Clearly their "bad management" is doing something right.

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