News / Science & Technology

Apple Changed Way the World Communicates

Customers are seen in an Apple store in Madrid, Spain, August 25, 2011
Customers are seen in an Apple store in Madrid, Spain, August 25, 2011

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Elizabeth Lee

Under the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple has produced products that have changed the way people around the world communicate, obtain information and entertain themselves. Here's a look at Apple’s success and what sets the company apart from other computer companies as it prepares for its founder and visionary leader to step down as CEO.

Whether it’s iPods, iPhones or iPads, they have become a part of daily life for people around the world. Technology analyst Francis Lun in Hong Kong said the man responsible is Apple’s chief executive officer, Steve Jobs.

"Steve Jobs actually changed the way that we download music, changed the way that we use handsets, and also changed the way that we use computers," said Lun.

University of California Los Angeles management professor Richard Rumelt said the ideas behind Apple’s products are not original.

“Apple didn’t invent personal computers, it didn’t invent [the] mouse and windows interface, it didn’t invent digital music players, it didn’t invent the smart phone or the tablet,” he said.

Ted Rozolis of IEEE Computer Society said there is one thing Apple can do that other computer companies have not achieved.

“They take a lot of concepts and re-purpose them, repackage them, make them beautiful and everybody wants to have them," said Rozolis. "They always had a way to take technology and make it again affordable and easy to use and therefore popular.”

IEEE Computer Society President Sorel Reisman said that’s why Apple has succeeded while many other companies have failed.

“It’s just astounding how many computer companies were in the PC business in the '80s that no longer exist,” Reisman observed.

Reisman also said the Internet has been key to Apple’s growth.

“When you travel, everybody’s got one of these things, an Apple iPad. When I say everybody, I mean little kids, mothers, women who would otherwise be knitting,” Reisman said.

Rumelt wrote a book that examines the strategies of businesses such as Apple. He said Apple leaves features out of its products that it cannot implement well. Other companies have tried to make products that are similar to Apple’s, but they have not been as successful.

“So we have here a very interesting contrast between the Apple sense of only doing what you can do well, versus the standard industry approach, which is stick in every possible feature you can, but in the end that’s kludgy [inefficient or clumsy].”

With Steve Jobs’ stepping down as Apple’s CEO, some consumers, like this man from Germany, fear Apple no longer will be the same.

"Definitely on the innovation. I don't think they will continue to be so innovative as he is the brains behind the ideas," he said.

Many analysts have a different view. IEEE Computer Society President Reisman said, “He’s handpicked his successors. They’ve been trained to be his successors. I think the company is fine. It’ll be fine.”

Still, management professor Rumelt warns that Apple’s managers need to be careful.

“If the people who continue to manage Apple into the future don’t impose that same kind of very demanding standards of design excellence on the products they release, then you’ll begin to see a dilution of the company’s brand name," he said.

For the next three to five years, however, Rumelt said Apple already has its product plans in place.

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