In 1996, Apple announced that it would buy NeXT for $429 million. The deal was finalized in late 1996, bringing Jobs back to the company he co-founded. Jobs became de facto chief after then-CEO Gil Amelio was ousted in July 1997. He was formally named interim chief executive in September. In March 1998, to concentrate Apple's efforts on returning to profitability, Jobs terminated a number of projects, such as Newton, Cyberdog, and OpenDoc. In the coming months, many employees developed a fear of encountering Jobs while riding in the elevator, "afraid that they might not have a job when the doors opened. The reality was that Jobs's summary executions were rare, but a handful of victims was enough to terrorize a whole company." Jobs also changed the licensing program for Macintosh clones, making it too costly for the manufacturers to continue making machines.
With the purchase of NeXT, much of the company's technology found its way into Apple products, most notably NeXTSTEP, which evolved into Mac OS X. Under Jobs's guidance, the company increased sales significantly with the introduction of the iMac
and other new products; since then, appealing designs and powerful
branding have worked well for Apple. At the 2000 Macworld Expo, Jobs
officially dropped the "interim" modifier from his title at Apple and
became permanent CEO. Jobs quipped at the time that he would be using the title "iCEO".The company subsequently branched out, introducing and improving upon other digital appliances. With the introduction of the iPod portable music player, iTunes digital music software, and the iTunes Store,
the company made forays into consumer electronics and music
distribution. On June 29, 2007, Apple entered the cellular phone
business with the introduction of the iPhone, a multi-touch
display cell phone, which also included the features of an iPod and,
with its own mobile browser, revolutionized the mobile browsing scene.
While stimulating innovation, Jobs also reminded his employees that
"real artists ship".
Jobs was both admired and criticized for his consummate skill at persuasion and salesmanship, which has been dubbed the "reality distortion field" and was particularly evident during his keynote speeches (colloquially known as "Stevenotes") at Macworld Expos and at Apple Worldwide Developers Conferences. In 2005, Jobs responded to criticism of Apple's poor recycling programs for e-waste
in the US by lashing out at environmental and other advocates at
Apple's Annual Meeting in Cupertino in April. A few weeks later, Apple
announced it would take back iPods for free at its retail stores. The Computer TakeBack Campaign responded by flying a banner from a plane over the Stanford University graduation at which Jobs was the commencement speaker. The banner read "Steve, don't be a mini-player—recycle all e-waste".
In 2006, he further expanded Apple's recycling programs to any US
customer who buys a new Mac. This program includes shipping and
"environmentally friendly disposal" of their old systems.