Apple, the iPad, and Real Entrepreneurship
Mike Brownfield /
Today, Apple announced the long awaited revamp of its blockbuster iPad tablet computing device, and experts are speculating on the impact the product will have on the “post-pc” world. One impact we know already is how Apple has generated new employment opportunities in the U.S. economy.
As liberals in Washington try to dream up ways to generate job creation, Apple is a reminder that true entrepreneurship is not born out of Congress, but in the minds of inventors, in their garages and factories.
Apple, under the leadership of the late Steve Jobs, created new industries seemingly out of thin air — from the revolution of personal computers with the Mac, the music industry with the iPod and the iTunes store, television with the AppleTV, the cellular industry with the iPhone, and personal computers once more with the iPad. Jobs’ brilliance was rooted in his grasp of what people want before they even know they want it. As Apple CEO Tim Cook explained when describing the success of the iPad today, “When we set out to create the iPad, we set out to create not just a new product, but a new category. In order to do that, the iPad had to be the best device for doing some of the things that you do most often.” Consumers responded — in Q4 2011, 15.4 million were sold.
When Apple hit home runs under Jobs’ leadership, the erstwhile CEO wasn’t the only one to benefit. Last week, Apple released a study showing that it has created or supported 514,000 jobs for U.S. workers — 47,000 of which are direct Apple employees, and overall, 304,000 of which are in industries ranging from engineering to manufacturing to transportation, while 210,000 jobs are in the iOS app economy. (That’s geek-speak for the design and development of the more than 550,000 applications used on Apple products. To date, consumers have downloaded apps 25 billion times over four years.)
Apple reports that those jobs are spread across 50 states and “includes workers in Texas who manufacture processors for iOS products, Corning employees in Kentucky and New York who create the majority of the glass for iPhone, and FedEx and UPS employees.”
Some economists have questioned how accurate the job creation figure is, but whether it’s 300,000 or half a million, it’s a pretty safe bet that hundreds of thousands of workers have employment opportunities supported at least in some part by Apple’s success. And it didn’t take the mighty hand of the federal government to do it. Apple created demand for its products by inventing things that people would want, then selling the heck out of them. That’s capitalism, the free market, and entrepreneurship at work — and that’s the kind of inventiveness that America needs more of.