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The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

How did Steve jobs make apple innovative?


and how has planned obsolescence affected the company?

John Iannacone

University Writing 1102

Ms. Santiago

March 29, 2017


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What really is innovation? Is it the demand to make a new product or to make

improvements to an old model? The answer is complicated but it is based around taking an

item that already exists, redesigning it to be more user friendly, to upgrade it with the latest

technology, and then selling the idea to the public. The question posed is in regards to how Steve

Jobs made the company innovative in his time as CEO. With some research information can be

found referring to a new word that can be tied to the tech giant which is obsolescence. Innovation

and obsolescence will be discussed in detain to truly understand which is relevant to the

company today. Steve Jobs is an innovative mastermind that through hard work and

determination found that he could make a great product that would create the company now

known as Apple. Now that he is gone, innovation has left and planned obsolescence has taken

over. How did Steve Jobs make Apple innovative and how has planned obsolescence now

affected the company?

Steve Jobs was a man of humble beginnings that could easily win over almost anyone

with his sales skills. Jobs began his work after dropping out of college in 1972 after only one

semester (The Telegraph). For several years he attended various conferences about computing

and in 1976 the Apple 1 was created. From that time forward both Steve and Wozniak worked

together to build the company we now know as Apple. Throughout the years Jobs worked on

many different projects and struck many deals as he was a good salesman even if he knew that at

the time he could not deliver. It was this sense of determination and diligence that got him

recognition for his hard work. Steve believed in simplicity as well as innovation. Simplicity as

referring to easy to use by anyone and a sleek design that would be timeless. The day of

average is over. Average only guarantees below average results. (Gallo). When he returned to

Apple the company was in shambles and was on the verge of bankruptcy due to mismanagement.
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The Problem also lied in the fact that the supply of products was high but the demand was low

driving prices down creating less profit margin. Soon he began slimming down the lineup and

began innovating new products one of which being the iPod. At the time there were other mp3

players but none that rivaled the iPod. It featured a stainless steel housing and tactile buttons

with a scroll wheel and could be configured to 10 gigabytes of storage which was equivalent to

roughly 2000 songs (Edwards). The iPod was not necessarily a new product in the technological

world, but Steve had innovated on the design of older products to make one that was user

friendly and of a high quality standard. This standard is what Steve Jobs lived by which could be

seen in all the products of his time.

The opportunity of Apple turned into one of the most profitable technology companies to

date. Steve had several innovative secrets of which were the guidelines of how he conducted

business. These innovative secrets were Do what you love, put a dent in the universe, creativity

is connecting things, say no to 1000 things, create insanely great experiences, master the

message, and to sell dreams not products (Gallo). By saying do what you love simply means

pick a field that is truly interesting and profitable, stick with it and achieve various goals.

Choosing an interesting field is key to long-term success as in if it is really enjoyable, then it will

never feel like work. Steve jobs put a dent in the universe by striving to put a computer in the

hands of everyday people (Gallo). In other words, help to bring knowledge to ordinary people

with the assistance of technology. Creativity is connecting things through experiences that

different people gain, great things can come that others might have missed. This idea is greatly

important because when people interconnect and work together more can be gained than if a

single person works on something. The next secret is that innovation comes from saying no to

1000 things (Gallo). In other words, sometimes the first idea or plan is not the best and that
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multiple stages of trial and error as well as design should be completed before a final decision is

come to. This idea could be seen when Steve returned to Apple, cut down on current products

and began designing something new. His next secret was to make great experiences by wowing

the audience. To do this he created a great mix of atmosphere both in stores and online when the

internet became available along with a support network to help customers in need. At many

Apple events workshops were held to get the users closer to the product to gain a better

understanding as well as become involved. The next secret goes hand in hand with the

experience which is mastering the message. Steve Jobs was a good speaker and was able to sell

almost any idea he came up with. To be able to sell an idea you must have to social skills to back

up an idea to make it reality. Last but not least Sell dreams not products (Gallo). Steve said

the stores are not meant to sell computers but instead to enrich lives (Gallo). The idea behind

this statement is that if you build a product with the mindset of easily usable, aesthetically

pleasing, and built to a high quality standard then you will be able to win over the people with a

product (Gallo). Steve felt that innovation was key to making a good product that would not

only sell well but would also bring back those customers in the future as they knew they would

be buying a quality product.

Apple is a company of which made its debut in April of 1976 when Jobs and Wozniak

introduced the Apple 1 and came to a deal with a small computer shop who bought 50 models at

500 dollars each. The selling price was set at 666 dollars and 66 cents. The risk was high as

Steve knew that he did not have the resources to complete the order. Steve did not give up

though, as he sourced the parts he needed, innovated the product and was able to pay back for the

30-day loan period he had received. Once the order was filled the computers lacked a keyboard,

monitor, a case, and really any other component other than the motherboard itself. Once fully
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build these computers were what showed Jobs innovative skills and propelled Apple forward

towards a successful future (Rawlinson). The next generation of computer dubbed the Apple II

was in a sense a perfected version of the Apple I with more powerful internals and a true casing

or shell. Due to the innovation of this model, it also had a higher price tag because of the

internals and because it had the first spreadsheet processor on a computer (Rawlinson). For

several years Apple began jumping around from what Steve wanted to make versus what the rest

of the company wanted which caused strife and ultimately ended in Jobs being left behind. For

the time that Steve was away, he worked on several side companies to help bring them to

profitability or to being joined with larger companies. In the limbo time for Apple, windows

began to gain steam and was surpassing the tech company with their new operating system

Windows 3 (Rawlinson). When Steve Returned in the mid 1980s Apple was in shambles. The

once innovative company had lost its way and was spiraling downward towards a path of

bankruptcy. Jobs had to act quickly to restore his company back to profitability.

In the early 2000s Apple became known as one of the main companies of innovation.

When the Apple iPod was released, it set the stage for future devices to come. Many credit the

iPod as not being the first mp3 player, but as the most user friendly and innovative product on

the market with quality in mind. The iPod was an instant hit and fit the needs of many for a

portable music playing device. By 2011 the company had already sold more than 304 million

iPods worldwide (Edwards). Fast forward to the year 2007 when the next major innovative

move was made by Apple with the first iPhone dubbed the iPhone 2G for its 2G cellular

connectivity abilities (Ritchie). When introduced Steve for pricing reasons wanted both a 4

gigabyte and an 8 gigabyte model. Later it was felt that dropping the 4 gigabyte model in favor

of the 8 with a price drop to make it more available to people. This was considered one of the
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greatest innovative products to ever come out of the company as it was far ahead of its time. At

the time it was the only phone of its type with superior design quality to anything else that could

even come close. Even today nearly ten years later, the device is still usable. In 2010 Jobs

released his next innovative product which is the iPad (G.L). At the time Steve was questionable

on whether or not there would be a market for such a product but in the end his decision to

continue forward proved to be profitable. Almost immediately schools, businesses, and medical

related offices began to use the product as it offered a wide variety of productivity applications

that could be used in place of a traditional computer or laptop for light day to day tasks. Soon

after the iPad 1s release, Steves health began to decline which brought his life of innovation

and perseverance to an end on October 5th 2011 (Allen). Today some of the products he had a

part in can still be seen all of which have a story in the history of both the company and him.

With Steve Jobs gone a new era began for the technological giant. Once Steve stepped

down from his position as CEO, Tim Cook took over in his place. Very soon after, changes

started to take place both positive and negative. While Steve liked to focus on usability and

upgradability for the end user, Tim more so focuses on the sleekness and aesthetic of a product

(Matt). Both have their place, but need to be balanced and in the case of Tim, the end user tends

to suffer from a lack of the peripherals that Steve wanted and felt people needed in their

products. Some of these things revolve around ports on the products or optical drives. This lack

of balance can be seen today in many Apple products as well as a lack of innovation which leads

into the next topic of planned obsolescence.

Planned obsolescence is an idea which means that a product whatever it may be, once

manufactured has a life span only as long as it is able to keep up with the demands of the time

along with whether or not upgradability is present (the economist). In simpler terms the shelf
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life of a product. The products focused on within this report revolves around computing

devices both mobile and stationary. Innovation ties into obsolescence because without

technological innovation, a product will become unusable much sooner than a product with the

latest technology built in. A notable example can be seen with some older laptops that kept

upgradability and reparability high priorities. Some of these devices could have nearly every

component upgraded including Apple products so that a person with a lower budget could afford

a decent computer, save up, then buy the parts to suit their needs for the time. Windows

computers still tend to be relatively upgradable but year after year more and more components

can be seen being soldered to the motherboard as opposed to being removable. There are many

reasons for this of which can be beneficial such as being lighter, thinner, and a better form factor

to save space while still having the same size screen (Kahnley). The downside is when

something does break, the whole device must be replaced as no single component can be

removed.

Does planned obsolescence affect Apple today? Even through Steve Jobs innovation,

even when he was still CEO, the company began to undergo some small changes considered

planned obsolescence making it harder to get into Apple products. These changes were minimal

for the duration Steve was still in charge as components could still be replaced and upgraded for

max performance. The plan is to get users to upgrade their technology sooner than really needed

(Kahney). In 2012 Apple introduced their new lineup of MacBook Pros of which were

significantly thinner than past models but cut down on the number of ports, eliminated the

optical drive, as well as soldered the ram to the motherboard making it much less upgradable

than before (Smith and Jacqueline). The argument can be made that components on a

motherboard that are stationary will last much longer than those that can be removed which in
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some cases is true. There is a problem with this though as when a motherboard fails, a

replacement part can cost nearly as much as just buying a new device (Quora). With older

devices it was possible to transfer old components that still worked, over to the new device. With

older Mac systems the optical drive could be replaced with a secondary hard drive for more

storage and faster speeds and the ram could be upgraded giving the end user the power to do as

they pleased. The newer Mac systems only have one removable component of which is the hard

drive. This hard drive is specially made by apple so any replacement must be sourced by Apple.

As Apple ushered in the latest generation of MacBook Pro, the design became even thinner

offering only 2 ports for the base model and 4 on the upgraded model. The ports only consist of

USB C which is still a relatively new type of port on which not many devices use. Along with

this the hard drive is now also soldered to the motherboard making any upgradability completely

impossible for the average user (Wollman). There is no denying the ascetically pleasing aspects

of the sleek design but innovation is not present with only looks being the primary goal rather

than helping the user as Steve Jobs did.

The end of upgradability was the start of obsolescence for Apple. When Steve Jobs left,

upgradability became increasingly scarce until there was none at all for the devices. Some do

not take issue to this as their availability of funds is at a point where it is affordable to replace a

device every year or every other year. For the majority of people this is not the case as the

computers and or laptops bought are meant to last for four to five years; sometimes longer.

There is hope though as there is a way to avoid this issue. Apple could begin to offer their

products with better specifications at a lower price point. In all likelihood this would never

happen as then profit margins would be lower and people would hold onto their product longer

causing loss of sales. The end goal of companies (not just Apple) is that they are banking on the
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idea that the user will buy a product knowing that it will last for only a few years, then that user

will have to come back and upgrade again allowing the company to continue making profits.

Innovation and planned obsolescence are closely tied together and affect Apple directly.

For the years that Jobs was with the company, many innovative products such as the Apple I,

Apple II, iPod, iPhone, the iPad, and the MacBook line became a reality. The products fulfilled

Steves wants by not being average, The day of average is over. Average only guarantees below

average results. (Gallo) He lived by that motto as the products were simple, elegant, and build

to last for years to come. He had the end user in mind by trying to understand what the people

wanted rather than what he thought would just look good. Once Steve left and changes to the

company were underway, a lot of the things he strove for were no longer there. It was as if the

products made were more for a display glass than they were for usability. Although many of the

products post-Jobs are relatively fast, aesthetically pleasing and lighter than their predecessors,

they lack Jobs goal of having the end user in mind when designing the product. Many times Jobs

wanted to make products the best they could be at the lowest price possible to make then more

attainable to everyday people and to build a so called following (Rawlinson). The products

today lack any opportunity for learning in regards to disassembling electronics and upgrading

them. This lack of upgradability is why planned obsolescence is a problem that will affect some

people. As time goes on, programs become bigger, more documents are stored, more ram is

needed to run programs and when all of those configurations on a computer are non-upgradable,

the user then suffers because more money must be spent to keep up with the needs of the time.

Jobs was a man that after dropping out of college began working in his parents garage to

build the multibillion dollar company that we all know today. Planned obsolescence does in fact

affect the company and will continue to for the foreseeable future. Until the company begins to
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offer products with better configurations for lower prices, the end user will continue to suffer in

regard to having to buy new products only after a couple of years. Steve was not an inventor but

rather a great innovator for the world. Many felt that he liked to push people which is true as he

said we push people to do great things and we have gotten some amazing things done.

(Isaacson). It was this motivation and effort that helped Jobs become the man he was and build

the company to its current day status as a tech giant.


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