Can Apple reinvent itself without Steve Jobs?
Apple is among the most iconic, valuable and revolutionary companies in recent memory. And although the Cupertino based multinational corporation boasts the reputation for being the world’s most innovative firm*, the facts paint a very different picture. That’s because, when you think about it, Apple hasn’t really invented anything. Rather, they reinvent just about everything.
Consider the personal computer. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not Apple cofounder Tim Wozniak who originally invented the PC. This was the work of Eddie Roberts, who invented the Altair Computer back in 1974. Instead, Mr. Wozniak developed his own unique version of the personal computer and got his friend, Steve Jobs, to sell it. This idea gave birth to the master of reinvention himself, Steve Jobs. Although many of his ‘followers’ are under the impression that Mr. Jobs invented new products, those who have tracked Apple’s work within the Silicon Valley tech community since the early seventies know better.
Another example of this phenomenon can also be seen in 1981, when IBM came to market with the original IBM PC. IBM, certainly a well-known tech giant at the time, was in direct competition with the Apple 2 PC. So, Steve Jobs did what any serial ‘reinventor’ would do… he introduced a new PC that was even ‘better’ than IBM’s. He called it, the Mac computer. The iconic Mac was the first to bring a graphic user interface and mouse to household personal computers. But even the mouse itself wasn’t an Apple invention. It was rolled out by Xerox. But, of course, it was subsequently reinvented and improved by Mr. Jobs.
Mr. Jobs left Apple and later returned to the company in 1997. Upon his return, he went right back to helping Apple do what it - or rather, he - does best… reinventing. Just consider the MP3 player. This was not an Apple invention. But it was reinvented by Apple with the introduction of the iPod. Then came the smartphone. This product was not invented by Apple either, but it was certainly reinvented in the form of the iPhone we all know and love - or hate - today. It didn’t end there. Tablets have been in commercial circulation for twenty years before Apple came out with the iPad, one of the great, game-changing consumer tech devices in history.
Steve jobs knew how to constantly reinvent products. Compounding this phenomenon, since Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, Apple hasn’t really done that much reinventing. If you think about it, most of their products have simply been upgraded versions of their already existing products (e.g.: iPhone 6, 6S, 7, X, etc.).
Apple’s ability to reinvent an already existing product will be put to the test with products such as the HomePod. Simply put, the HomePod is Apple’s (reinvented) version of Amazon’s Alexa. This device is Tim Cook’s attempt at a smart speaker featuring powerful speaker technology. It provides Siri intelligence and wireless access to the Apple Music library into a speaker no taller than 7 inches. Even Apple admits that this is a reinvention, with Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Philip Schiller explaining: “Apple reinvented portable music with iPod and now HomePod will reinvent how we enjoy music wirelessly throughout our homes”**.
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