The two Steves
No "two guys in a garage" have managed to capture the nation's hearts and minds like Steven Jobs and Steven Wozniak did over two decades ago. In 1976 these two Silicon Valley dreamers emerged from their makeshift laboratory with a desktop computer that would change the face of computing. Apple's Macintosh offered consumers the most advanced, user-friendly interface consumers would see for the next dozen years, until Microsoft finally managed to ape much of Apple's finest attributes for the Microsoft Windows system. Nonetheless, since the release of Macintosh, Apple's home PC, Apple's string of innovative and inspired products have won them an almost cult-like loyalty from their users.
Market conditions sour
But the finest operating systems, regrettably for Apple, don't always translate into marketplace success. On the open market, the Macintosh was sorely beaten by Microsoft's MS-DOS and Windows systems. Apple, outflanked by Microsoft, collapsed. Its market share flumped from 18 percent in 1994 to a pitiful 6 percent in 1996, prompting some industry insiders to predict the company's imminent demise. Nevertheless, Apple's line of PowerPCs, Performas, and PowerBooks remained popular with students and graphic designers. In an effort to go back to the source, then-CEO Gil Ameilo acquired NEXT, Steve Jobs' second enterprise, because of the new operating system it was developing. The move brought Jobs back into the Apple arena, exactly where stockholders wanted him.
A job for Jobs
When Amelio left Apple, Steve Jobs proved an inspiration to Apple once again. Jobs took control of Apple as interim CEO in September 1997 for a salary of 1$ a year. He immediately embarked on a series of major changes designed to return the computer maker to stability. Within the first weeks of his tenure, Jobs reached an agreement with longtime corporate enemy Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, whose support, Jobs knew, was essential to the survival of underdog Apple. Gates agreed to $150 million in a software investment for MacOS programs. Jobs also killed the production of Mac clones, which were draining the already meager sales from Apple's own line.
Jobs pared down Apple, firing legions of employees and reducing the number of its models from 15 computers to a smaller product line aimed at Apple's core of customers: educational institutions, desktop publishers, designers and home users. He also replaced 75 percent of the board of directors, adding respected names like Intuit chairman William Cambell, Gap CEO Millard Drexler, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
The iSavior of sales
On May 11, 1998, standing before a room of Macintosh programmers, Jobs unveiled what investors saw as the company's last hope: the G3 computer line. Touted as running "up to two times as fast as Pentium processors," the G3 arrived in three incarnations: the sleek black Power Book G3, the Power Mac G3 desktop, and the startling iMac one-piece consumer desktop. The iMac, with its bulbous, colorful, translucent shell, was both attractive and innovative, though Apple's designers made the unusual decision not to include a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. Jobs considered that most information nowadays is transferred via the Internet, CD-ROMs and Zip Iomega drives. Jobs' iMac gamble payed off - big time. The company sold 1.8 million of the curvy machines in 1999 alone.
I'll have an Apple - in strawberry
At the Macworld expo in January 1999, Steve Jobs - or, as he jokingly described himself, the "iCEO," introduced the new series of iMacs, which not only retail for $100 less than the original iMac, but come in an assortment of five fruity hues (tangerine, blueberry, strawberry, lime and grape). These new Apples also introduced a new Apple attribute: "NetBoot" allows system software to run directly from a server. Later that year, the company introduced the more powerful G4 chip, which it claimed could outperform any Pentium III processor. Apple ended the year with the introduction of the iBook, the iMac's portable equivalent. By May 2000, the company had about 10 percent of the retail portable PC market between its iBook and PowerBook lines. With four to five percent of the personal computer market, Apple still badly trails PC giants like Dell, Compaq, and Gateway. Yet Jobs' performance remains nothing less than spectacular. Since he took the helm of the company in 1997, its market value has soared from less than $2 billion to about $17 billion as of early 2000.
'Interim' no more
Apple's investors and fans worldwide breathed a collective sigh of relief when Jobs announced in January 2000 that he was removing the word "interim" from his title - he is now Apple's full-time, permanent CEO. Indeed, things at Apple have never looked better - the ambitious iMac has not only been wildly successful, but has also spawned PC imitators. Jobs also announced that Apple would be beefing up its Internet strategy in the next year, with a newly designed web site that will allow Macintosh users to send greeting cards, send free e-mail, and back up files online. The company has also announced it will begin producing a range of Japanese fonts for the benefit of professional publishers in Japan. Apple also invested $200 million in the ISP Earthlink (which is already its preferred service provider), and announced that a new operating system - OS X - will go on sale during summer 2000.
Courting Snubbed Retailers
Apple announced a new retail strategy in July 2000 after nearly disappearing from store shelves for two years. In an attempt to revamp its sometimes rocky relationship with retailers, the new effort includes an expanded list of shopping outlets, store design experts and regular visits by Apple employees to sales representatives.
First the clam shell, now the cube
At Mac World Expo in July 2000 Apple introduced the much anticipated G4 Cube, a 450-megahertz computer in an 8-inch cube of clear plastic. Features included an optical mouse that required no mousepad and depressed to click with its entire housing; an air channel that eliminated the need for a fan; and a handle that allowed users to add to or subtract parts from the machine at will.
The iMac line has also been refurbished, now with lower prices, faster processors, more storage capacity and a new hue of machine called "hue" (which the rest of the world calls "white"). A new version of iMovie software made the rounds, and a line of Power Mac desktop machines sported dual microprocessors that beat out the fastest Intel machines in calculating speed.
A bachelor's or master's degree in computer science, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering is usually required for most entry-level positions at Apple. Interested parties should either mail, fax, or e-mail their resumes. (E-mailed resumes should be pasted into the message box, not attached as separate document.) Apple's rocky financial history makes it difficult to join the team; applicants must not only be of the highest quality, but also be specifically enthusiastic about joining the Apple family. (Quick: what kind of computer do you have at home?) Apple's looking for people who know SAP, OOA/OOD, EDI/AS400, WebObjects, EOF, Rhapsody, NeXTStep/OpenStep, UNIX, C, Object C or NT. To search current job listings in a variety of divisions, check Apple's site http://www.apple.com/employment/jobs.html, where you can submit a plain text resume via email.
Talk to some Apple employees, and you might come away with the impression that there's no better place to work than Apple. "Funny, brilliant, relaxed" coworkers and "modern, spacious, beautiful" offices filled with comfortable couches and huge picture windows make work time a pleasure. While most admit "Apple has changed over the past ten years," insiders stay put. Comments like "absolutely no downers," "everyone is an essential part of the team," and "Apple remains my dream company," could make anyone want to pack their bags for Cupertino.
Then again, some insiders still have worries about the "depressing" negative publicity surrounding Apple; concerns about "a high turnover rate" and a "sometimes gloomy mood" bother some staff members. (The recent popularity of the iMac has certainly made Apple coverage more favorable, and Wall Street has been mollified by the surge of Apple stock prices, up to around 100 as of January 2000 from a low of 12 3/4.) "If you put your heart into the 'Mac vs. Windows' jihad, it's very frustrating to see an inferior OS getting all the attention," says one programmer. The downside of the unusually creative atmosphere is that sometimes trying to enforce a corporate strategy is like "herding cats," which is "one reason why the Copeland project failed." The pay is "not bad, but not the best in the Bay Area," though some contacts add "the people make up for the pay."
Most of our contacts say they have no plans to leave Apple anytime soon. A dress code that is casual "with a capital C" and a uniquely Californian "work hard - play hard" culture make up for the hours toiling at the office. "Working at Apple is a wonderful experience," one employee says, noting that the environment is "intellectually challenging, inspiring and rewarding." "The culture is the best," another insider gushes.
The main R&D campus in "Cupertino is pretty posh, with a huge lawn in the middle, a very nice cafeteria, and a big indoor atrium with a cafe." Perks at liberal icon include "same-sex domestic partner medical benefits." And while the company is mostly white and male, "Apple does look for women and minorities." Insiders say "it's common knowledge that Apple's progressive nature is a large part of its image."
Color monitors;Internet tools;Multimedia (Quicktime File Format);Networking and connectivity tools;Operating systems (Mac OS);PCs (Power Macintosh);Personal productivity software (FileMaker Pro);Portable computers (Macintosh PowerBook); Printers;Servers
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