Steve Jobs and Apple’s astounding legacy for the American enterprise

“Henry Ford changed the operating model of enterprises everywhere with his vertically integrated factories. Steve Jobs, through Apple, has done the same with the elastic enterprise,” Haydn Shaughnessy and Nick Vitalari write for Forbes. “A very small number of corporate leaders over the course of history have become associated, like Ford, with a particular type of enterprise operating system. He provided an example for other leaders to follow and transformed the business landscape for ever.”

“Today’s leaders need to know how Steve Jobs and Apple have liberated business in the 21st century,” Shaughnessy and Vitalari write. “We argue in our new book The Elastic Enterprise: The New Manifesto for Business Revolution that Steve Jobs’ legacy lies not only in the brilliant designs of Apple (AAPL) products nor his mastery of a new form of adjacency strategy as Apple move effortlessly into new industries. It lies in the operating system that other companies are now copying.”

Shaughnessy and Vitalari write, “We call that operating system elastic to signal the way that it breaks with the scale economics of the 20th and early 21st centuries.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Although the author seems to suggest that other businesses can achieve success by doing what Apple has done, it is one thing to say that, it is another thing for another company to get it all together in the way that Apple does and will continue to do.

    Tim Cook will now add his own secret ingredients to the recipe.
    Maybe competitors shoudl consider the fried chicken business.

    1. These idiots talking about the operating system while not understanding that the real secret to Apple’s success is a very good Operating System.

      Now you are talking about The Colonel while not understanding it’s all about the kernel.

      1. Nice play on words. However, this may be a great book and possible course for all business students. It is clear the Apple’s iKillers have not understood the depth of the hole they are in because they do not understand what Apple just did to the way their market has been transformed. Other markets and industries with another visionary may do the same thing. Cars aren’t the only thing on assembly lines anymore. In the future, this may be called the Steve Jobs Business Model or Market Transition System.

        Next, watch and see the transformation to the educational industry. This is going to be the killer tsunami that no one sees coming. iPads, iBooks, and apps will transform the entire educational system and it will never be the same!

  2. I have said for a long time that Steve’s first brilliant move was to decide to use UNIX as the basis for an advanced operating system for personal computers.

    It had the backing of academia and industry and incorporated sound basic safety, multi-user structures and networking at a time when other companies didn’t see the future.

    Steve did that at a time when only main frames, mini-computers or humongously priced Silicon Graphics or Sun workstations ran UNIX.

    1. SJ did choose UNIX for NeXT. However, to be completely fair, NeXT was not going anywhere fast until Apple decided to acquire NeXT as a the basis for Mac OS X.

      NeXT had a big jump on Linux. The Linux operating system kernel was first released on October 5, 1991.

  3. It will be interesting to follow both Tim Cook with Apple, and Ron Johnson with JC Penney.

    Both have the Apple imprint for business. In time, it may show how well the model really works, and if it can be applied to other industries.

  4. Still there are many that claim Apple will fall prey to very inexpensive Android devices and what we now know as the mighty Apple ecosystem will collapse and become irrelevant. Supposedly it will happen in a few short years since the enterprise will no longer need to pay for Apple’s expensive products. Every Android device imaginable will only cost about $50 and no one will be willing to pay more than that.


    1. Is this your wish or what you predict?
      Others see the death of Android and so it shall be done.
      Then you can buy a Zune for under 20 bucks and keep smiling, eh Turnover.

    2. What you seem to be missing, as so many others do too, is that Apple started the ecosystem only on Mac.

      The first iPod was a Firewire device and iTunes was only available on Mac.

      It all changed when iPod switched to USB and iTunes became available for Windows.

      With so many choosing iPods as their portable media devices, iTunes became the home for each users’ content. Only Apple develop devices that allow users to access iTunes content.

      For Apple’s ecosystem to collapse, hundreds of millions of people would have to find an alternative to iTunes, which frankly doesn’t exist (yet) and there’s no sign anyone is coming close to offering the same end user experience iTunes offers any time soon.

      The competitors were all trying to beat iPod, spec wise they may well have done, but nobody offered an equivalent iTunes experience. End result. iPod ruled the market. Competition dried up. iPod dominated for a decade.

      With so many people having such large iTunes libraries, why would they ditch all their previous purchases to switch to a Samsung/ Android/ whatever based product that can’t access that content. Is it reasonable for them to buy all that content again?


      The next step and final nail in the coffin for the PC industry is per incident processing (P.I.P). What’s this?

      The argument from PC boffins are iPad/ iPhone etc are consumable devices, not creation devices. The claim is they don’t have the horsepower of a desktop. In some respects this is true.

      However, with 4G and super fast broadband and Wi-Fi virtually everywhere, it would be easy to upload a video, presentation, 3D graphic etc to one of Apple’s Data Centre’s and use Apple’s
      vast processing power. HD video could be encoded and returned to your iPad in seconds all for 99 cents.

      If this is the strategy, who would need to fork out for expensive desktop machines?

      The reality is most computer users don’t actually use the full power of their desktops. Most use computers for eMail, Web Surfing and storing their digital media. Few use them for processor intensive activities.

      With OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion bringing iCloud to the desktop, Apple is in my opinion, showing what’s next and what’s coming beyond that.

      Once the transition is made to total online storage and P.I.P, computers as we know them today will be dead. iPhone and iPad will dominate, just like the iPod did in its day.

      Microsoft and the PC vendors don’t get this. They’re still pushing that faster horse mentality (Henry Ford – ‘If I asked the people what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse’ – not a direct quote but you get the point).

      I believe in competition, it’s healthy, but no other company seem to get it. They appear to be too short sighted with foundations based on all users upgrading the beige box in their homes to newer beige boxes. They need to move beyond this idea or they will all fail.

      Apple has a 10 year head start on everybody, best thing the so called competition can do is write of this decade and aim for something really big for the next decade.

    3. that’s because you do not Think Different. Hm, you don’t think at all. Unless you’re just cock-teasing to get reactions out of this fanboy page.

      if one can not compete with the mighty Chinese, and even they who love copying & diluting everything, have proven that the real thing, the Apple products in China, are all they want, then your theory is quite wrong. and that’s just the Chinese example.

      people woke up to the Telcom and Microdough & Dull Dell & RimmJob industries abusing their disrespect to clients by giving them b.s. & excuses whilst sucking their hard-earned money over decades…most people trust Apple. eventually they all taste it & stay. no co. has as much loyalty. which other co. can you say many love?

      which other co. really innovates? apple does not invent, they improve. all they do is make things simpler, more sophisticated, ubiquitous, affordable. their products require much less maintenance. people want stuff that is easy, intuitive, smooth, and just works.

      if you want virus-crash-prone stuff, go Android you robotic droid.

      people who defend mediocrity are mediocre at best. they have no vision or goals. they are normal. average. boring. if you think it’s cool to rebel, well, it’s depressing to think you’re rebelling for crapware & fake cause. BlackBerry fell. Google just wasted $billions on Moto that is near bust in the German courts. Windows7 is hyped but still under 3% marketshare. Nokia’s gone. what are you defending?!

      the love for Apple products has nada ado with fanshit. that’s your hyped excuse to hide your own silly dogma for the dark side. 1. we fan boys are not closed-minded & stubborn like you. you’re like Republicans who never vote Democrat, though some of us Democrats do vote the other way, if we see the light. but there is no light on your side. if there were, none of your firms would collapse like they are and in their self-propagated diarrhea. Apple fans are deserved. they love for a reason. the quality. not hot air or hype. there is no brainwashing or jobsian reality distortion field. of course Apple is not perfect. nothing is. but Apple is usually the closest to it and we like it. if you don’t bitch somewhere else.

      people like you who always bring down Apple for the sake of it, are dumb this way: if it’s the only co. that really works and is the one example we can be proud of as an American enterprise, as the only american entity everyone loves worldwide, the only one in the black, recession-proof etc, the only one that still shows off our ingenuity & creativity, then all you people who try to deride it, kill it, deemphasize it etc, are sick, closed, short-sighted, blind, hateful etc. you are dull. you don’t see that you kill our economy with your lack of mind, vision & soul.

      as for your love for open-source, if that’s the only excuse you have against apple, well, what has open-source done for you lately? much more flexibility yet crashes & viruses as much. as for iOS, we still have plenty of choice, 550,000 apps – which human needs more choice than that, when you can’t possibly use more than a dozen or so apps in a life-time. there’s a solution for everything on the iOS app. if you need to hack, you can still do so, minus the android viruses & chaos.

      anyway, most droids do not spend. they love free apps. so you’re losers to begin with, if you can’t even spend $1. you are probably the biggest pirates of movies & tv & music for that matter and it is people like you who caused SOPA as hollywood panicked.

      so before you talk & spread nonsense like this, defend Apple, who are the only ones who fought for us users all along. Apple democratized music through iTunes at $1 vs albums. Apple bypassed cable firms through AppleTV. Apple freed the internet through wireless everything. Apple gives all a chance to be their own author & bypass the big publishers – that’s especially an advantage to cheap skates like you. Apple freed the mobile industry from lies & fee abuse. Apple did much more than anyone else. after all, who else changed 1 industry? – apple changed 7 already!

      one can go on & on, but if you’re so open-source, so alternative, why are you not open to apple, what is the real deep reason for your blindness? stockholm syndrome perhaps? maybe you need an alternate brain & heart.

      but like Ballmer – stay with your thoughts, we don’t care if you suffer. it’s your own choice & life. we’re happy we’re eating apples.

      good luck, don’t worry about us, be happy ; )

  5. For more than ten years, I have attended business conferences where the speakers point to Apple as an example and explain that in order to succeed, other companies need to emulate the way that Apple operates.

    Not one of the companies there have ever moved even the slightest bit towards the Apple way of doing things. They have their own ways of operating, they know what is best for their business and while they pay lip service to innovation and providing a great customer experience, it’s obvious that they aren’t going to change.

    It’s one thing to be aware that Apple has a uniquely successful approach, it’s quite another to change the ingrained attitudes within an existing business.

  6. What we see from Apple is only the final product. Relentless analysis of…everything is likely the norm.

    What goes on behind those unnamed doors between the participants is not seen and only occasionally written about.

    It takes a new mindset to posit new and radical ideas and have others try to poke holes, suggest changes & agree with what you put forth.

    I think Apple has managed to understand how to train people to deal with the relentless challenges of development of the cutting edge…or you can’t stand to work on the cutting edge.

  7. to write a book that apple is Elastic is 1 thing but to theorize anyone can learn the theories to mimic is a bit silly.

    have hoards of firms not tried it over decades?!
    they copied everything Apple does.
    from concept to hardware, software, manufacturing, distribution, packaging, retail, advertising, marketing etc.
    NONE have succeeded.

    you’d think the human race is dumb.
    we can not even copy right.

    this means Apple is not using a formula.
    why does no one get it yet?!
    Apple’s secret can not be copied.

    why don’t they get it, that it’s all about talent, not formula?!
    talent is natural.
    you either have it or you don’t.
    apple does not employ people if they are normal.
    they staff only the geniuses amongst us.
    at least in the decision-making spots.

    it’s in Apple’s DNA.

    if you have no soul, as most businesses do not,
    you can not mimic Apple.

    ironically, the only time a firm will succeed,
    is by finding its own g-spot, own mojo, own secret,
    own soul, own mission or goal…
    NOT by copying Steve or Apple.

    everyone acts out of desperation.
    you can not be your self in fear!
    competition is all about your now thoughts & creativity,
    never about copying.

    ironically, Apple is light years ahead of all,
    so far up everybody’s rear,
    as they all still copy instead of be.
    it’s as simple & natural as that.
    yet the all still theorize, anal-yze, masturbate over why.

    STOP being Apple,
    then you will be!

    get a life of your own.
    get laid.
    think. different.
    lead. don’t follow.

    if not, get laid again or die.1

    if you keep blaming Appel & China for killing our economy or livelihood, you’re a loser. at least join them, stop crying over spilled milk over your now inadequacies. or invent something apart.

  8. Ford’s big contribution to American enterprise was to pay American workers enough so they could afford to buy Ford products. Apple’s contribution was to perfect the outsourcing of production to low-paid workers who have little hope of affording Apple products. Way to go Saint Steve!

  9. It really is as simple as the old saw, ‘build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door.’

    SJ said over and over, ‘we just want to make the best products possible for our customers. We just want to make great products.’

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