BEARING FRUIT JOBS REVIVING THE APPLE OF HIS EYE.Byline: Margaret D. Williams Bloomberg News
As he did years ago, Steve Jobs Steve Jobs - Stephen Jobs is once again giving life to Apple Computer Inc.
Since taking the job of interim chief executive in July, he has cut costs, killed the hand-held Newton computer, canceled contracts that let other companies make Macintoshes and trimmed the number of retailers selling Apple products.
It's paying off. After losing almost $2 billion in the past two years, Apple turned in an unexpected profit for the first quarter of its fiscal year and is on track to make money in 1998. The stock is up more than 80 percent since Jan. 1. And Jobs has convinced customers and investors that Apple will make it as the computer company of choice for graphic artists, entertainment programmers and Web page designers.
``Jobs is the person who unleashed Apple's potential,'' said Catherine Ryan, an analyst at David L. Babson & Co., which owned 2.89 million Apple shares as of September. ``This is his baby. It's personal for him to turn it around.''
That's not to say Apple will ever regain the market power or mystique mys·tique
An aura of heightened value, interest, or meaning surrounding something, arising from attitudes and beliefs that impute special power or mystery to it: the cowboy mystique; the mystique of existentialism. that came from pioneering the personal computer, popularizing icon-based computing and making the mouse as mighty as the pen for many people. With sales still falling, its share of the PC business has skidded to just 3 percent from 10 percent a few years ago. Even in the education market, a stronghold of Macintoshes, Apple now holds just 27 percent of the business.
Gone too is the vision that Jobs himself championed - that Apple would win the fight against computers using Intel Corp. chips and Microsoft Corp. software. In fact, Microsoft, the company that Jobs once ridiculed, last summer invested $150 million in Apple.
Instead of speculating about whether Apple will survive, investors and analysts are now saying that Apple has staked out a secure and profitable niche in the $165 billion PC industry. Graphic designers and magazine publishers are devout de·vout
adj. de·vout·er, de·vout·est
1. Devoted to religion or to the fulfillment of religious obligations. See Synonyms at religious.
2. Displaying reverence or piety.
3. followers followers
see dairy herd. , preferring programs like Quark quark (kwôrk): see elementary particles.
Any of a group of subatomic particles thought to be among the fundamental constituents of matter—more specifically, of protons and neutrons. Xpress and Adobe PhotoShop See Photoshop. that were made for the Mac. Web designers are also big fans, and the company's Quicktime video technology has become a standard.
``It's a shrinking company, but it's got a base that loves it, and it'll live for a long time.'' said analyst Kimball Brown of Dataquest Inc., a research firm in San Jose San Jose, city, United States
San Jose (sănəzā`, săn hōzā`), city (1990 pop. 782,248), seat of Santa Clara co., W central Calif.; founded 1777, inc. 1850. .
One difference between Jobs, who co-founded Apple 22 years ago, and his recent CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. predecessors: He quickly made tough decisions they either couldn't or wouldn't make.
``He's not afraid to make a call,'' said analyst Louis Mazzuchelli of Gerard Klauer Mattison & Co., who rates the stock a buy.
Take the Newton hand-held computer Noun 1. hand-held computer - a portable battery-powered computer small enough to be carried in your pocket
portable computer - a personal computer that can easily be carried by hand , hailed at its 1992 introduction as the next great leap in computing. It was a money loser, quickly overtaken by better products from 3Com Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. Last month, Jobs shut the unit.
Another Jobs move that paid off: In February, Apple said it would sell its computers exclusively in CompUSA Inc. stores - but not other national retail chains - in stand-alone boutiques staffed with trained sales workers. Apple products also are sold by some 3,500 independent dealers and catalog catalog, descriptive list, on cards or in a book, of the contents of a library. Assurbanipal's library at Nineveh was cataloged on shelves of slate. The first known subject catalog was compiled by Callimachus at the Alexandrian Library in the 3d cent. B.C. retailers.
The Apple boutiques The Apple Boutique was a retail store, located at 94 Baker Street, London, and one of the first business ventures made by The Beatles' fledgling Apple Corps.
Opened on December 7, 1967 (with John Lennon and George Harrison attending the grand opening), the Apple Boutique's at CompUSA are doing well, boosting Mac sales to 14 percent of total computer sales in some stores from as low as 3 percent before the boutiques were opened.
``He's clearly focusing the company on selling Macs to the Mac base,'' said Dataquest's Brown.
To that end, Jobs canceled Apple's licensing agreements last year, reversing a 1994 decision to let other computer makers build clones that would expand the Mac user base.
Instead, Apple found that its licensees were making more of the high-end machines, eating away at the company's most profitable business. Jobs tried to raise fees for licensing. When he couldn't, he ended the agreements.
Some insiders are expressing new confidence in the company, and two directors, Edgar Woolard and Jerome York, bought stock late last year. Woolard, former chairman of DuPont Co., bought 3,000 shares, while York, former chief financial officer of International Business Machines Corp., bought 10,000.
The improving outlook may even ease Apple's search for a permanent replacement for Gilbert Amelio, who was forced out as chief executive in July. Jobs has said several times that he doesn't want the post.
The company hoped to land a full-time CEO by last fall. But with huge losses and no turnaround plan then, few top prospects were willing to take a chance.
That may no longer be the case.
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2. make it easier to get in front of an interesting candidate,'' said analyst Mazzuchelli, adding that with Apple on the mend recovering from an illness or injury.
See also: Mend the board has more time to search for a CEO. ``It's not a headless chicken. The senior managers have aligned themselves around a strategy. It's a good time right now.''
PHOTO (Color) Steve Jobs
CHART: Apple shines