How Steve Jobs changed Apple

With news of Steve Jobs's change of roles at Apple sweeping the web, it's worth looking back at how the company changed during his reign as CEO.

Apart from taking Apple from its dismal depths to the most valuable company on Earth, under Jobs's leadership Apple also completely transformed several industries while outright inventing others.

This is what Apple's main products looked like in 1997, before Steve Jobs retook charge of Apple for the first time since leaving in 1985:

Did you own any of these? Chances are pretty good that you didn't. Very few people did. I didn't, although both Mike and Steve claim that they still have Newtons sitting on the shelf. Apple was on its deathbed back then, while Microsoft was unassailably ascendant. Apple was considered at best a niche company for niche users; at worst, it was considered a boondoggle. Michael Dell, CEO of the company that bears his name, famously quipped that Apple should be liquidated and the resulting money given back to the shareholders.

A year later, in 1998, this happened:

Steve Jobs killed the beige boxes and introduced the iMac, the genesis of Apple's new focus on style. The iMac stood out in the crowd in the late 90s, its unmistakable silhouette a stark contrast to the sea of anonymous beige/grey/black boxes of its competition. And in a move that would typify Apple's approach over the coming years, the iMac both introduced new technology and mercilessly pruned away the old -- it was the first mass market computer with USB and the first to ditch the floppy drive. Every Mac made since then can trace some part of its design back to this late-90s progenitor, the product that caught the world's attention and made us all think that maybe Apple was in it for the long haul after all.

Then in 2001, this happened:


Whether you thought it was revolutionary or "lame," over the course of the early- to mid-2000s the iPod went on to utterly dominate the portable music player scene. Ten years after its introduction, the iPod (and its descendants, in the form of the iPhone and iPod touch) has effectively killed both the CD player and the CD itself for a large portion of the music-listening crowd. More so even than the iMac, the iPod turned Apple's fortunes completely around and made the company a force to be reckoned with for the first time since the 80s. A well-known "halo effect" ensued, where users enamored of the iPod's interface, craftsmanship, and ease of use started buying up Macs in large numbers. It's no huge stretch to say that without the iPod, Apple as we know it might not exist today.

Then, in 2007, this happened:

Touchscreen smartphones are everywhere now, to the point that many of us take them for granted. But in 2007, the iPhone knocked the entire phone industry on its ear. Looking like something that came straight out of Captain Kirk's belt, the iPhone proved to be every bit as revolutionary as Apple claimed. Naysayers everywhere predicted the iPhone would be Apple's doom, because the company was now dipping its toe into an established market with industry giants who were all too eager to slap this upstart tech company into the dirt.

The pundits were all wrong; the iPhone has single-handedly transformed the smartphone market from the RIM-dominated days of monochrome, button-laden BlackBerrys into the new world of glass-paneled touchscreens that adapt to our needs rather than requiring us to adapt to theirs. The App Store showed the iPhone's true potential; far more than a phone + iPod + internet navigator, thanks to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps the iPhone could become almost anything to almost anyone.

Then, in 2010, this happened:

In the 1980s, Apple called the Macintosh "the computer for the rest of us." Sadly, it never really lived up to its potential as the computer for the masses -- that mantle fell upon Windows, for better or worse. Less technically-inclined users have always wanted a computer that simply gets out of their way and lets them use it, and that desire is likely a major factor in the iPad's tremendous success thus far. Geeks will obsess over what the iPad doesn't have -- ports, menus, windows, a built-in keyboard, an accessible file system, and so forth -- and just like the iPhone, scores of analysts the world over predicted the iPad would fizzle in the marketplace and prove to be Apple's first big misstep in ten years.

Instead, the iPad has done to the tablet market what the iPod did to the portable music player market: upended it, redefined it, dominated it. People may question whether anyone needs the iPad, particularly if they've never used one before. I know -- I was one of them. But perhaps more than any of the products discussed here, the iPad points the way to the future of computing. Instead of intransigent boxes that get in the way of what we want to do half the time (yes, even Macs), the future of computing is computers as an appliance, far more adaptable to our needs than the traditional PC ever was or ever could be.

This is what Apple's main products look like today:

This is what fourteen years of progress looks like. I can only imagine how things will be in 2025.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will undoubtedly hear from many sources that Steve Jobs's move from CEO to chairman means the doom of Apple. We've already been hearing that for years. Looking back on how Jobs changed Apple, it's not hard to see why so many pundits might think Apple's success is dependent on having Jobs at the helm -- but Apple's success hasn't been due to a single man. No man builds an empire alone, and the best-built empires live on profitably long after their founding fathers have handed over the reigns to someone else.

Apple is a company composed of thousands of talented and visionary individuals. The iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad didn't spring fully-formed from Steve Jobs's forehead. Neither did the MacBook Pro, the MacBook Air, OS X, iLife, iTunes, or the App Store. To view Apple as Santa's workshop and Steve Jobs as Mr. Claus is to miss the point entirely.

No one can predict with certainty what the future holds for Apple now that Steve Jobs has stepped down as CEO. Many will try, no doubt. But history shows the folly of counting Apple out before the match is truly finished -- if you'd told 1997's tech pundits that Apple would be where it is 14 years later, they'd have laughed you out of the room.

All of us at TUAW want to thank Steve Jobs for turning Apple into a company worth writing about, worth getting excited about, and worth making a daily part of our lives. I'm not known for being an optimist most of the time, but I still don't see any of those things changing anytime soon.

How Steve Jobs changed Apple originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:07:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Apple releases iOS 4.3.4/4.2.9 to fix JailBreakMe.com flaw

Hands holding jail barsAfter a little more than a week after disclosure, Apple has patched three flaws in iOS for iPod Touch, iPad, iPad2, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and the Verizon iPhone.

You may recall the return of the website JailBreakMe.com 10 days ago which exploited these vulnerabilities to provide an easy method of jailbreaking your iDevice.

The updated version for all but the Verizon iPhone is version 4.3.4, while Verizon customers can update to 4.2.9. To update just open iTunes, check for updates and plug in your phone/MP3 player/tablet.

This raises one of my big pet peeves with Apple products.. Why do I have to tether to update? Oh! I see you will have that feature in iOS 5? I guess I will stay vulnerable until I happen to be in the same city as my copy of iTunes...

JailBreakMe do not update warningTwo of the fixes are for font handling issues in PDFs that allow for remote code execution (RCE). The third fix is in the graphics handling code and can be exploited to allow for elevation of privilege (EoP).

It appears the JailBreakMe.com hack used at least two of the three flaws to jailbreak the iDevices. It initially downloaded a PDF to gain the ability to run arbitrary code and then sent down a PNG file that elevated itself to root to perform the jailbreak.

If your phone is not jailbroken, I recommend updating as soon as possible. If you have jailbroken your device you will need to decide if you wish to trust the unofficial "patch" on Cydia and stay jailbroken, or if you should join the herd and go with Apple.


Fring app brings group video calling to iPhone

Fring has updated its popular iOS IM app to allow group video calls on the iPhone. This is a first for group video calling on any iOS device as far as I know, and its a much welcome feature. The group video calling allows you to video chat with up to three of your other friends over 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi.

To take advantage of the new group video calling features, you'll need an iPhone 4 or the latest iPod touch with front-facing camera. Technically, the app will work with devices with only rear-facing cameras, but that kind of defeats the purpose of video calling if you need to have the rear camera on you and can't look at the screen to see the people you are chatting with.

Best of all, Fring works cross-platform, so you can video chat with people on Android devices. Android requirements are pretty much the same as iOS requirements, users just need Android 2.2 or later and a phone with front and rear cameras.

Fring is available now as a free download.

[via Engadget]

Fring app brings group video calling to iPhone originally appeared on TUAW on Wed, 27 Apr 2011 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Applecore helps keep your cables organized

Apple's in-ear bud cords are just like any other -- they'll get tangled up sooner or later. I can't tell you how many times I've stuffed the earbuds in my pocket on the way out the door, only to have to spend a few minutes untangling them when I want to listen to music or podcasts on my iPhone. But this nifty little cord organizer, cleverly called an Applecore, might actually help.

They're nice and cheap, too -- the smallest one is only $1.99, and there are two larger sizes for $2.99 and $4.99 in a variety of colors. Of course, you'll still have to wind and unwind the cables every time you want to use them (which will probably cause a little more wear and tear than just your standard tangling), but an organized cable is worth it, right? And you have to admit, that's a pretty elegant design. No better way to make your earbud cables stay organized and look good.

[via BGR]

Applecore helps keep your cables organized originally appeared on TUAW on Sun, 24 Apr 2011 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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