Former Apple CEO John Sculley Talks Apple and Competition on Eve of Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference


As Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off, former CEO John Sculley discussed the future trends in technology and what advice he has for current CEO Tim Cook.

NOTE: Apple introduced HomePod, an Amazon Echo competitor, based on Siri for $349, and updated its iMac, MacBook, and iPads. Apple also previewed iOS 11 (official release Fall 2017) and iMac Pro (available December 2017). Apple introduced iPad Pro (10.5 inch, available for ordering today, shipping next week). Apple also previewed Mac OS High Sierra (available free for public Fall 2017).

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Sales at Apple (found in 1976) increased from $800 million to $8 billion under the management of John Sculley from 1983 to 1993, but many attribute Sculley’s success to existing momentum as Steve Jobs’ visions and Steve Wozniak’s creations — that began with the Apple Lisa project in 1978 and the Macintosh project in 1979 — had hit mainstream and become highly lucrative. In 1983, Jobs recruited John Sculley to serve as Apple’s CEO. The Macintosh computer was introduced on January 24, 1984.

In the 1980s, Steve Jobs and John Sculley clashed over management styles and priorities — with Jobs focusing on future innovation and Sculley focusing primarily on current product lines and profitability. Jobs was already thinking ahead of the seeds of a high-performance workstation for education, and Macintosh department work at Apple was lagging.

The clash between Sculley and Jobs resulted in Jobs attempting a corporate takeover when he learned of a plan to demote him to a powerless “New Product Development” position. Jobs eventually submitted a letter of resignation to the Apple Board on September 17, 1985 after the board sided with John Sculley. When Jobs left, five additional senior Apple employees also resigned and joined Jobs in his new venture, NeXT Computer.

Apple Stock (per share)
$2.75 to $22 as IPO December 1980
$1.45 close on June 16, 1987 2/1 Split
$1.38 in October 1987
$0.63 July 1, 1997
$3.74 June 21, 2000 2/1 Split
$1.40 Oct. 1, 2000
$1.77 Jan. 01 2002
$6.41 Feb. 28, 2005 2/1 Split
$28.30 Dec. 01, 2007
$17.86 Feb. 01, 2008
$26.96 May 01 2008
$36.70 May 1 2009
$11.17 Jan. 20, 2009
$46.08 Dec. 01, 2010
$95.30 Sep. 01, 2012
$56.65 June 1, 2013
$90.93 close on June 9, 2014 7/1 Split
$130.28 May 1, 2015
$93.74 April 1, 2016
$153.84 June 1, 2017

After his devastating Apple departure, Jobs immediately began working on NeXT workstation in 1985 and the first NeXT Computer was released in 1988, but the hardware side of the company failed by 1993 and a total of only 50,000 NeXT machines were sold. Apple Computer, lacking multi-tasking capability on the Mac, attempted to develop a NeXT-like operating system for Macintosh in 1989, while NeXT Computer was working on perfecting NeXTSTEP — an object-oriented, multitasking operating system that would eventually operate on Motorola 68000 family processors used in NeXT computers, but also on Intel x86, Sun SPARC, and HP PA-RISC-based systems. NeXTSTEP was also the platform that Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) used to produce the first web browser, and the first website was served on a NeXT computer web server at CERN on August 6, 1991.

While Apple, running on the Motorola 68000 CPU, experienced prosperity from 1989 to 1991, Sculley failed monumentally in 1993 by porting the Mac operating system to a PowerPC chip (a CPU created in 1991 by an Apple-IBM-Motorola alliance), instead of the more popular and dominant x86 Intel CPU (manufactured since 1982). Apple would eventually switch to Intel processors in 2006. After a poor-performing first quarter for Apple in 1993, and during a personal computer price war with mass scale, multiple manufacturers of Microsoft Windows-based and Intel-based computers; internal conflict developed regarding Apple’s direction, and the Apple board forced Sculley out. In 1993, Al Gore was Vice President, but he wasn’t yet a member of the Apple board.

In 1996, NeXT Software, Inc. released WebObjects, a highly successful framework for Web application development. As a result of NeXT success in software, Apple acquired the Redwood, California-based NeXT company in 1997. Remarkably, Steve Jobs, Chairman and CEO of NeXT Software, returned to Apple — the company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak in 1976. As the new Apple CEO, Steve Jobs then implemented technologies into Mac OS X (currently known as macOS) that are based on technologies developed at NeXT between 1985 and 1997. Apple Computer’s next-generation operating system (code-named “Rhapsody”) was a Unix-like operating system consisting primarily of OPENSTEP, which was developed from the original NeXTSTEP operating system for NeXT Computers, and developed into a Mac user interface appearance during the project’s period from 1996 to 1998.

Apple’s stock bottomed out during the summer of 1997 at under $1.00 per share.

Mac OS X, which was the result of “Rhapsody”, was announced in 1998.

The final release of “classic” MacOS was Mac OS 9 — released in 1999.

In 2001, Apple launched Mac OS X, opened the Apple Store, and introduced the Apple iPod.

The Apple iTunes store was introduced in 2003. Between early 2003 and 2006, the price of Apple’s stock increased ten times. Apple’s stock then climbed dramatically from about August 2004 to today.

In June 2005 at the Worldwide Developers Conference, Steve Jobs announced that Apple would be making a transition from PowerPC processors to Intel x86 processors.

In January 2006, the first generation of Intel-based Macintoshes were released with Mac OS X 10.4.4 Tiger. Steve Jobs announced the last models to make the switch in August 2006. There was a transition period (until 2011), using a translator named Rosetta, when newer Macs running Mac OS X on Intel could run most older programs that were written for “classic” MacOS on PowerPC Macs.

In January 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the first Apple iPhone, and in July 2017, Apple would announce that a total of one billion iPhones had been sold.

In July 2008, Apple launched the App Store to sell third-party applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Within a month, the App Store sold 60 million applications and registered an average daily revenue of $1 million.

On January 14, 2009, Steve Jobs announced in an internal memo that he would be taking a six-month medical leave of absence from Apple until the end of June 2009 to spend time focusing on his health.

On April 3, 2010, Apple launched the iPad, selling 300,000 units on the first day and 500,000 by the end of the week.

On January 17, 2011, Jobs announced another medical leave of absence, and Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook assumed Jobs’s day-to-day operations at Apple. Jobs still remained “involved in major strategic decisions” and at the June 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference, Jobs took the stage and unveiled iCloud, the online storage and syncing service for music, photos, files and software that replaced MobileMe. The product launch was the last product launch for Steve Jobs, who died on October 5, 2011. As of October 2011, Mac OS X Lion (Version 10.7) had sold over six million copies worldwide.

Jobs had resigned his position as CEO of Apple on August 24, 2011, and he was replaced by Tim Cook as CEO. Jobs became Apple’s chairman until his death.

Apple became the most valuable consumer-facing brand in the world in May 2011, and in July 2011, Apple’s financial reserves were briefly larger than those of the U.S. Government.

In June 2017 Apple has a record-high market cap of roughly $800 billion, which means Apple is within $200 billion of becoming the world’s first trillion dollar company.

After more than a decade in San Francisco, Apple’s big developer conference is back in the South Bay. Kiet Do reports. (6-4-17)

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