Leadership

The No. 1 reason Apple has been so successful can be traced to Steve Jobs

Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new iPhone that was introduced at Macworld on January 9, 2007 in San Francisco, California.
Getty Images
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new iPhone that was introduced at Macworld on January 9, 2007 in San Francisco, California.

Apple is arguably one of the most transformative companies today. From the first Apple computer in 1976 to the 2016 iPhone 7, the company has been consistently moving forward.

And the company has founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, to thank. The No. 1 reason Apple has seen such extraordinary success, according to a growth strategy consultant? A history of innovation.

"Apple is constantly evolving," Scott Anthony, a managing partner at the growth strategy consulting firm Innosight, tells CNBC.

When Apple first went public in 1980, it was worth about $100 million under the leadership of Jobs, who left Apple in 1985. When he rejoined in 1997, he faced the task of restructuring an organization that was on the brink of bankruptcy.

His first order of business: to drop costly projects and streamline the company's focus. And he did just that with the release of the 1998 iMac. The product sold nearly 800,000 units in the first few months, signaling a major turning point for the company.

Now, with CEO Tim Cook at the helm, the company is worth $750 billion and is swiftly approaching a valuation of $1 trillion.

The company has a knack for pairing new technology with innovative business models, says Anthony. He points to the creation of iTunes and Apple's App Store as two prime examples. "Apple came up with new ways to bring in revenue by getting people to consume microcontent," he says.

Jobs saw an opportunity to target music fans who wanted affordable music but didn't want to drive to a store to buy expensive CDs. In 2003, the iTunes Music Store was launched and soon became the top music retailer, according to Rolling Stone.

Likewise, Jobs founded the App Store in 2008, which brought in hundreds of developers who were eager to make easy money. "Nothing like the App Store existed before, and it has fundamentally changed the world," Cook said at a 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple also looks beyond its organization: The company gauges what its competitors are doing and takes it one step further, says Anthony.

That's something he firmly believes other companies need to do a better job of to succeed.

"Leaders need to get out off the building," he tells CNBC. "Leave your swanky office and take a look around. See what competing businesses and start-ups are working on."

"Leave your swanky office and take a look around." -Scott Anthony, managing partner, Innosight

Jobs often looked to see what Google was doing with the Android system. He even threatened to eradicate the mobile operating system because he felt it was a copy of the iPhone. "I'm going to destroy Android because it's a stolen product," Jobs says in his authorized biography. "I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this. "

At the time of the iPhone's first launch, competing smartphones, such as Blackberry, were using QWERTY keyboards and styluses.

Apple took a different approach to its first iPhone in 2007 by adding a multi-touch screen. The simple, yet innovative design revamped the style of smartphones and propelled Apple as a leader in mobile technology.

Blackberry, once a mobile giant, was unable to compete. The company's smartphones have since fallen by the wayside.

Anthony advises leaders to always look for new technology and says you shouldn't be afraid of throwing away old business models. "A true leader will say goodbye to the past," he says, "and be able to let go completely."

The company also isn't afraid to scrap an idea and move on to the next product, he adds.

"Apple really became Apple version two with the release of the iPod, which they really don't even sell anymore," says Anthony. "Apple has never been afraid of being overly constrained by yesterday."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.

See also:

Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein both attributed their extraordinary success to this personality trait

Tim Cook says Apple founder Steve Jobs had this unique gift

3 presentation tricks Steve Jobs used that can help you be a better public speaker