CUPERTINO (CBS / AP) — While Steve Jobs had no formal schooling in engineering, he pushed the envelope many times when it came to product design. He’s listed as the inventor or co-inventor on more than 300 U.S. patents, but other times the results of his work weren’t always pretty.
10 products that defined Steve Jobs’ career
These are some of the significant products that were created under his direction:
1. Apple I (1976) – Apple’s first product was a computer for hobbyists and engineers, made in small numbers. Steve Wozniak designed it, while Jobs orchestrated the funding and handled the marketing.
2. Apple II (1977) – One of the first successful personal computers, the Apple II was designed as a mass-market product rather than something for engineers or enthusiasts. It was still largely Wozniak’s design. Several upgrades for the model followed, and the product line continued until 1993.
3. Lisa (1983) – Jobs’ visit to Xerox Corp.’s research center in Palo Alto inspired him to start work on the first commercial computer with a graphical user interface, with icons, windows and a cursor controlled by a mouse. It was the foundation for today’s computer interfaces, but the Lisa was too expensive to be a commercial success.
4. Macintosh (1984) – Like the Lisa, the Macintosh had a graphical user interface. It was also cheaper and faster and had the backing of a large advertising campaign behind it. People soon realized how useful the graphical interface was for design. That led “desktop publishing,” accomplished with a Mac coupled to a laser printer, to soon become a sales driver.
5. NeXT computer (1989) – After being forced out of Apple, Jobs started a company that built a powerful workstation computer. The company was never able to sell large numbers, but the computer was influential: The world’s first Web browser was created on one. Its software also lives on as the basis for today’s Macintosh and iPhone operating system.
6. iMac (1998) – When Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, the company was foundering, with an ever shrinking share of the PC market. The radical iMac was the first step in reversing the slide. It was strikingly designed as a bubble of blue plastic that enclosed both the monitor and the computer. Easy to set up, it captured the imagination just as people across the world were having their eyes opened to the benefits of the Internet and considering getting their first home computer.
7. iPod (2001) – It wasn’t the first digital music player with a hard drive, but it was the first successful one. Apple’s expansion into portable electronics has had vast ramifications. The iPod’s success prepared the way for the iTunes music store and the iPhone.
8. iTunes store (2003) – Before the iTunes store, buying digital music was a hassle, making piracy the more popular option. The store simplified the process and brought together tracks from all the major labels. The store became the largest music retailer in the U.S. in 2008.
9. iPhone (2007) – The iPhone did for the phone experience what the Macintosh did for personal computing – it made the power of a smartphone easy to harness. Apple is now the world’s most profitable maker of phones, and the influence of the iPhone is evident in all smartphones.
10. iPad (2010) – Dozens of companies, including Apple, had created tablet computers before the iPad, but none caught on. The iPad finally cracked the code, creating a whole new category of computer practically by itself.
7 products Steve Jobs got wrong
Here are seven products created under his direction that failed commercially or functionally:
1. Apple III (1981) – The successor to the very popular Apple II was focused on business users and priced accordingly. Unfortunately, the hardware was unreliable. Apple lost the business market to the IBM PC, launched the same year, and a rapidly expanding market of PC clones.
2. Lisa (1983) – The first commercially produced computer with a graphical user interface cost $9,995 when it launched. It quickly fell into the shadow of the cheaper Macintosh, launched a year later.
3. NeXT Computer (1989) – Jobs’ venture after being forced out of Apple created a computer that was in many ways ahead of its time, but in the vein of the Apple III and Lisa, it was also too expensive to catch on with mainstream users.
4. Puck Mouse (1998) – The new iMac was the first major product created after Jobs’ return to Apple in 1996, and it was a big success, despite its tiny, round mouse. Users couldn’t tell which way it was oriented by feel, and it tended to disappear in the cup of the hand, making it hard to use.
5. The Cube (2000) – This small desktop computer was beautifully encased in a cube of clear plastic. It won design awards but was a flop in stores because of its high price. Also, it didn’t really offer any functional benefits over other Macs. Apple’s designs are iconic, but people aren’t usually willing to pay a premium for design alone. The Cube idea lives on in the Mac Mini, a more successful but less eye-catching small Mac.
6. iTunes phone (2005) – It’s easy to forget that the iPhone wasn’t Apple’s first venture into the cellphone business. It formed a partnership with Motorola Inc. to launch the ROKR in late 2005. As a phone, it was decent if unexciting, but as a music player, it fell far short of the iPod. It could only hold 100 songs, and transferring them from the computer was a slow process. It was also criticized for not allowing users to download music over the cellular network, a limitation that also applied to the first iPhone. Some even called the ROKR “the iPhone.”
7. Apple TV (2007) – Apple’s foray into the living room was an uncharacteristically half-hearted effort – Jobs later referred to the Apple TV as a “hobby.” It was a small box that connected to a TV and to a Mac in the home. A tiny remote allowed the owner to play music and movies from the PC on the TV. It was expensive, at $249, and complicated to set up and use. Movies purchased from iTunes were low resolution and looked blurry on HDTV sets. In 2010, Apple introduced a much improved, cheaper Apple TV designed to connect directly to the Internet.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)