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Adventures In Tech
Apple: Tech's greatest comeback storyAxed projects, uneasy alliances and a pure tech masterpiece -- Adventures in Tech recalls how Steve Jobs rescued Apple from the brink.
Apple's late 90s comeback didn't just save the business, it established a template for success that would propel the company into the stratosphere. Sit back and relax. This is tech's greatest comeback story. [MUSIC] The mid 90s. Apple was as good as finished, hemorrhaging cash and dallying with weird side projects. Even as it's key product the MAC was sliced into dozens of dull grey variants that became almost impossible to tell apart in 1996 Apple lost 816 million dollars then over a billion a year later desperate the board turned to co-founder Steve Jobs who'd been kicked out the decade earlier but was now back as a consultant Apple having bought his other computer company NEXT. Back in the driving seat, Jobs was ready to forge a comeback. But getting Apple shipshape again would prove a messy business. In his first year back, Jobs fired over 3,000 people, wiping out projects and products left, right and center. Apple's Pippin platform, which had been turned into a games console by Bandi with ATMark. As was the Newton PDA and StyleWriter printers. Jobs also [INAUDIBLE] the Mac clone, a scheme that had seen the Mac OS licensed out in a bid to make it more widely used. And sorted out the Mac lineup, paring strategy down to a simple grid of four. Computers for at home or on the go, for personal or business. God so simple. We should do that for more stuff. As a majority of delegates agree there are simply too many animals. The UN proposes a new taxonomy it hopes will be less confusing. Apple has cleared it's decks but confidence in the company was low. Jobs proved his determination, however, revealing a partnership with Microsoft at Mac World 1997. The two companies that been warring over patents for years, but agreed to squash the dispute, forging a deal that saw Microsoft invest $150 million for a stake in Apple and to keep making Office software for Mac. In return, Jobs made Internet Explorer the default browser on Apple computers, you can hear how well that went down. Apple has decided to make Internet Explorer it's default browser on the Macintosh. Boo. Almost as well as deploying a giant video feed of Bill Gates looming. Over everyone. And on stage gaff that called to mind a futuristic dystopia in which Microsoft rules the world. [NOISE] The tie up works, giving Apple breathing room to create the products that would define its comeback, and wash away the memory of those boring beige computers. Having killed off the performer range, Apple needed something new to sell to family. The colorful iMAC fit the bill with a futuristic translucent blue curved casing that cost three times as much to build as a regular computer case but proved it's worth when it was unveiled wowing onlookers and bringing to the forefront a plucky designer called Jonathan Ive. [MUSIC] Who later admitted he'd been on the verge of quitting before Jobs returned. The iMAC was the public face of Apple's comeback and it worked like a charm. Apple sold 800,000 before the end of 1998 and began raking in profit. Apple's come back strategy doesn't just save it from financial ruin, it established a template that works. And over the next decade a focus on fewer, better products, strong design and powerful marketing would turn Apple from a company on the brink of destruction to one of the most powerful on the planet. What are your thoughts on Apple's comeback and how do you feel about Apple today? Let me know and check back next time for another adventure in tech.