Case Overview and Recommendations for Teaching Approaches
Students will find the case very interesting as most of them will have used one of Apple's products. Students will combine the facts presented in the case with their own perceptions and experiences with Apple's products to answer the discussion questions. The case makes valuable contributions related to the historical background of one of the most successful companies in the world and consistently voted the most innovative company. Furthermore, the case examines the psychology of an entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, and takes the student through the entrepreneurial process of starting Apple along with Steve Wozniak. A unique aspect of this case is that Apple products are so ubiquitous that most students will have experienced the technological innovativeness of the company through personal ownership of an iPod, iPhone, or Apple computer product (MAC or laptop). This aspect should make the case both relevant and interesting to students. The following questions are recommended for discussion.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS WITH SUGGESTED ANSWERS
1. Discuss the attributes that contribute to the success of Steve Jobs.
Students should draw from facts presented in the case highlighting various attributes that could be argued to be related to his success. Evidence of this may include the following:
Job's introduction to the world of electronics came during High School with the discovery of electronic hobby kits. He realized that the electric world was not as complicated as it first seemed and that electronics was an interesting field. It quickly became his passion. He began attending lectures conducted by the Hewlett Packard Company (HP) and audited classes at Reed College. This further fueled his appetite for the field and eventually he found summer employment at HP.
Jobs (and Wozniak) attended meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club. The club consisted of other electronics enthusiasts who presented news of new innovations in the electronics world and discussed updates of the progressions made by members in creating their own computers.
Intelligence and Confidence--
Early on, he found school to be so easy that he was able to skip 5th grade and move directly into Middle School. Later, while working at his job at Atari, some of his fellow workers viewed him as arrogant and overly confident. Although, this was not necessarily an attribute conducive to a collegial work environment, it did provide Jobs the opportunity to work the night shift where it was easier for him to befriend Steve Wozniak who assisted Jobs with the technical aspects of his work. Others described Jobs as "referring to most people as bozos". Although this was a condescending way of viewing his future customers, it did serve to ensure that Apple products were developed in a user-friendly and understandable manner.
Atari invited Jobs to develop the circuitry that would transform the popular game, Pong into something more innovative (Breakout), however he was given only four days to complete the task. Realizing that this project was beyond his capabilities, he contacted his friend, Steve Wozniak who helped him accomplish the task. This event, turned out to be the motivation for starting the Apple Computer Company.
Visionary and Opportunistic--
Jobs recognized an opportunity to pitch a working model (developed by Wozniak) of a computer that could be viewed on a TV (as opposed to a costly monitor) to HP and Atari. Although neither company chose to invest in the production and marketing, Jobs persuaded Wozniak that this creation was good enough that they should try to produce and market the computer on their own. They raised $1,750 to begin this venture, which turned out to be the start of the Apple Computer Company (Young and Simon, 2005).
After leaving Apple in 1986, Jobs bought the majority share of a puttering computer graphics company, called Pixar, for $10 million from George Lucas. …