by Tom Kaneshige Teardown: Apple CEO Steve Jobs

Nov 08, 2010
IT Leadership

In the spirit of gadget teardowns, we take apart Apple's iconic leader to see what makes him tick.n

Steve Jobs Teardown

Techies love a good teardown, especially one with pictures. Engineers at iFixit or iSuppli, for instance, love ripping off a tech gadget’s exterior and exposing the parts. has launched a feature that “tears down” the most popular and talked-about people (see the Oracle CEO Larry Ellison teardown), events and productions in the high-tech world.

This is Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ day.

Casing: Fool-Proof


Hardened outer shell that only comes in a black turtleneck and blue jeans. The word “impenetrable” comes to mind.

Memory: Version 1.0


Many 20-somethings probably think Jobs is a relatively recent phenomenon, but he’s been stomping around Silicon Valley since co-founding Apple in 1976. His obsession with control over product design helped Microsoft beat Apple in the PC era and led to his firing in 1985. Jobs floundered with NeXT and hit the jackpot with Pixar, only to return to Apple in 1996. His turnaround of Apple is built on a history of successes and failures.

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Power: Creative Processor


Most CEOs earned MBAs and rode the well-trod sales and marketing path to the top spot, but Jobs came from the creative ranks. He attended a small liberal arts college (albeit for one semester) and crashed calligraphy classes, which later influenced Apple product design. Just goes to show where his energy comes from.

Special Features: Religious Marketing


This unit contains spiritual marketing powers that have attracted a loyal customer following. Jobs understands how to tell a story that is chock full of mystery and builds to an incredible climax. His marketing prowess is often cited as the best in the business.

Communication: Non-User Friendly


Jobs tends to put non-Apple people, even captains of industry, immediately on the defensive. Intimidation scale is set permanently to high, and there’s zero tolerance for most press inquiries.

Temperature Control: Hot


This unit runs fiery hot and is often aimed at competitors and the press, and especially at leakers of Apple secrets. Apple fans will mistake this vitriolic heat for passion; they’re drawn to Apple products like moths to the flame. For Apple shareholders, though, there’s no burnout in sight.

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Battery Life: Recharged


When Jobs took a leave of absence for health reasons last year, Apple stock took a hit. Pundits weighed an Apple future without the visionary Jobs. Apple’s battery began to drain. It turned out Jobs needed a new liver — and got one in Tennessee. Now Jobs and Apple are recharged.

Security: Privacy Breach


How did this get in an Apple story?

Apple Patent: Infringement


Jobs is a once-in-a-lifetime CEO, so beware of the many knock-offs. Many companies want to clone him as their leader, but there can be only one.

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