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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 14:09 GMT
Jobs bites the Apple

Fans applaud Jobs' new commitment to Apple


The boss of Apple computers, Steve Jobs, has finally dropped the "interim" from his title to become the firm's permanent chief executive.

He made the announcement at the MacWorld trade show in San Francisco, to cheers of Apple aficionados.

Mr Jobs founded Apple in 1976, together with his friend Steve Wozniak. He was ousted from Apple in 1985, but returned 12 years later to salvage what was left of a then deeply troubled company.

Revival

By 1997, Apple's sales had collapsed, its products were not cutting edge anymore, Microsoft and Intel ruled the personal computer market.

Apple made a loss of $1bn, and its share price had dropped to $21.

The past two-and-a-half years have seen a revival of fortunes for the computer and software company.

Its line of colourful iMac computers has been snapped up by many new computer users and won over a lot of people used to the Windows/Intel PC standard.

During the last quarter, Apple sold 1,350,000 Macs, or - in Steve Jobs' words - "one Mac every six seconds".

The company ended 1999 with a profit of $601m and its shares are now trading at just above $100.

Two jobs Jobs

Apple will not get Mr Jobs' undivided attention, though. He will stay on as chairman and chief executive of his other company, Pixar Animation Studios, which created the Oscar-winning film Toy Story, and its sequel Toy Story 2.

The announcement ends a long search for a permanent chief executive for Apple.

Steve Jobs, who jokingly had been referred to as iCEO, said the 'i' would not stand for interim anymore, but for internet.

Tim Bajarin, of Creative Strategies, a consultancy, said: "Clearly Steve believes he has not only turned it around, but that he is on track to make Apple one of the most significant companies in computing."

Mac OS X

During his presentation at MacWorld, Mr Jobs showed the Apple fans a first glimpse of Mac OS X - the next-generation operating system for Macintosh computers.

Mac OS X has a new user interface, called Aqua. The software will be released this summer, and pre-loaded on new Macs from January 2001.

Aqua has luminous and semi-transparent elements such as buttons, scroll bars and fluid animation.

The computer desktop has also a "dock" at the bottom of the screen to access active applications, websites and documents - somewhat similar to the taskbar on Windows operating systems.

Rob Burgess, chairman of Macromedia said he had "never seen anything like this".

"It's not your daddy's operating system. Apple is design. Everything you see here, you want," he said.

Other announcements included a link-up with internet service provider Earthlink, one of the largest in the United States. Apple will get a share of revenues generated by Earthlink from each new Mac customer.

The company has made similar deals with Gateway, Dell and other PC makers.

High and dry?

However, some analysts doubt whether Apple has done enough to fight successfully against the dominance of big rival Microsoft and computers driven by Intel processors.

Juan Hernandez, an engineer at Walt Disney's film animation division, says that Apple now needs to "keep pushing the envelope with technology and driving down prices".

Experts say that winning the hearts of consumers with cheap and cheerful computers may not be enough. To be truly successful, Apple will have to enter the lucrative market for business computers.

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See also:
14 Jul 99 |  The Company File
Apple's comeback: Mirage or reality?
13 Oct 99 |  The Company File
Apple beats expectations
22 Jul 99 |  The Company File
Apple gambles on laptop success
02 Sep 99 |  Sci/Tech
Apple launches 'desktop supercomputer'

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