I understand what you THINK your point is. You were so far ahead of the world then. Why didn’t you do anything with it? Lack of vision?
Yes, it was already happening without Apple, but the participants were (and still are) a bunch of hamfisted idiots. Enter Apple, and they frickin’ owned it. Same thing with smartphones. Same thing with tablets. The mere fact that he was able to successfully capitalize on those things where so many other companies completely failed at it is testament to his business and marketing acumen, not casually-dismissed happenstance.
I did! The advantage of writing is that you can clean it up until it says what you really mean, rather than what you actually said.
I’d say getting the labels in line with iTunes and the App Store (which I don’t think there was any significant prior art on) are his big two accomplishments. Not to diminish them, but they’re not really innovation as usually meant in the technical industries.
Alternatively, maybe something about how he (or someone below him, you can never tell) figured out how to blow up the existing technical elite->mainstream->everyone technical pipeline. Design elite->mainstream->everyone actually makes way more money.
From Fortune a few months ago: Inside Apple
He legitimized buying music as digital bits instead of pirating for the non-geeks.
Huh, what? I’m not claiming to be better than Jobs or that I was far ahead of the curve. If you think that’s what my point was, I’m sorry I didn’t communicate it more clearly. My point was labels were playing catch up with the technological curve and always have been. Technology was revolutionizing music and would have done so with or without Jobs.
I think Apple will do just fine. Tim Cook has been groomed for this position and is taking over at a time when Apple is an extremely healthy company. Gil Amelio inherited a mess.
“Yeah, he innovated, but it was business innovation. That doesn’t count.”
No, I wasn’t contesting his business or marketing acumen, rather that to credit the online music revolution to him seems more than a bit hyperbolic.
Yeah, all that happened under his watch at Apple was that a computer company became the #1 music retailer in the United States, and many other markets around the globe. A trifle really. That the iTunes Music Store happened as it did was a revolution.
Also not mentioned yet, I don’t think: the Apple Stores. Another piece of sublime business execution that is a major factor in why Apple has reached the lofty heights it has today.
Look at iPod and iTunes sales figures and tell me how hyperbolic that assessment is. Did Jobs found the online music revolution? No. Did he understand and capitalize on it far better than anyone else did? Absolutely.
There is no innovation that doesn’t build on what came before. Yes, you can trace a line from the Altair to the Apple II, from the Alto to the Mac, from the Handspring to the iPhone, from the Nomad to the iPod.
But you can also see the sharp discontinuities in there, the ways in which they’re not like their predecesors; and those discontinuities are the reason why Jobs’ products were huge, world-changing successes and their predecessors weren’t.
Those discontinuities are innovation, and way too much of it happened under Jobs for it to be just brushed off as clever marketing.
I’m not downplaying his business, design, or marketing sense. Those are all impressive and worthy of praise.
SJ’s incredible acumen stretches way beyond our paltry human abilities.
Really though, he was an Autocrat in an age of CEOs, and that’s why Apple did so well. He thought about the entire ecosystem - i’m going to sell you an awesome product, with such sound business decisions, design decisions, and fantastic timing, that any history/process geek is spinning giddy with the perfection Apple’s timelines; and he just won time and again. Look at, for example, Amazon; Amazon is fighting to maintain the status quo, it relies upon tax free shipping that many states are itching to change if not actually bill out, it lost to publishers about it’s pricing model on the Kindle, ect. That’s normal business ebb and flow. Apple, if you look at the last 10 years, has had not one setback; every decision, and product, and move, goes from strength to strength. Apple broke out on to the world stage again with the iPod and managed not just to survive but thrive in a post-iPod world, where virtually any other company would be fighting to maintain it’s bread and butter product line from the past. Apple operating systems were virtually obsolete, and he made Apple laptops recognized worldwide as the premiere laptop for virtually any but a handful of specialized users. He transitioned from the desktop to the laptop, and then the laptop to the tablet, all the while building the interconnected ecosystem, not just supplanting one for another. And he did it with products of such high quality that Apple dominates every single category in which Apple participates. And behind the whole enterprise was Apple’s silent business empire in the supply chain, and all the incredible efforts Apple went through behind the scenes to make it all happen. I’m sure he’s a giant asshole, and the epitome of the smiling in public but screaming in private CEO, but he had an artist’s vision and a captain of industry’s mind.
This is what I responded to:
But so then he goes and revolutionizes the music industry with the iPod and the iTunes Store, yet another world-changing device.
Hyperbole. That’s like claiming the NES changed the world.
One, name a “discontinuity” other than the app store. Two, I didn’t even mention marketing! I don’t think that has anything to do with it; I just think he’s a very, very good CEO at the nuts and bolts of cost control and designing a profitable market for your company. That’s not the same thing as “the company produced a lot of innovation under his leadership”, however, which is the only thing I’m disagreeing with, especially strongly with “technical innovation.”
Apple doesn’t remotely dominate the laptop or desktop markets, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Second, don’t mistake upper-income cultural preferences or even per-unit profitability for market dominance. Apple has only 25% of the US phone market and ~6% of the worldwide phone market, for example. They make 50% of the profit in that worldwide market - again, the incredibly, incredibly effective CEO bit - but it’s not obvious how they capture a substantial proportion of the other 96% with their business model. It’s the same question as in desktops and laptops - can they, or even should they, actually build a traditional IBM/Microsoft-style dominance of any market?
That’s silly. Of course they’ve had setbacks. They had to backtrack on their policy about out-of-app purchases. Free iPhone 4 cases for everyone. The G4 cube and lump-and-stick iMac both flopped. Final Cut Pro X is hated. The AppleTV failed. iWork hasn’t done much.
Perfection is way too high a standard for anyone to hit, even Steve Jobs.
A nice way to say that you can write something that is really idiotic and then go back to edit it so that you don’t look quite as foolish as you originally did.
You should run for some level of office, you have the chops for it.
The Apple TV failed? Friends of mine who hate Apple own the fucking things.