A Fascinating, Realistic Glimpse: What Would Steve Jobs Have Done?

5 minute read
| Particle Debris

Betteridge’s Law says that “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” I don’t know if there’s a similar named law that covers the assertion “This isn’t what Steve Jobs would have done,” but I know that’s something most of us try to avoid. Because. Times have changed. CEO Tim Cook is in charge. Apple is much larger and wealthier. Because.

And yet…

Those who knew Steve Jobs well or worked with him closely are entitled to make observations about the current ledership of Apple. In this case, it’s the esteemed Ken Segall. The article is: “Apple: earning the wrath of Steve.”

Steve Jobs with Steepled Fingers

Steve Jobs

There, Mr. Segall notes that, for Mr. Jobs, wasting time was an “unforgivable sin.” He writes:

I saw this more than once in our regular marketing meetings. Someone would confidently present their ideas, Steve would ponder for a moment, and then let it out: “That’s it? You could have done this one day after our last meeting. What have you been doing for the past two weeks?”

The conclusion is this regarding Apple’s Oct 27, 2016 “hello again” event. We waited. Apple built up expectations, as they do, depending on our patience and loyalty to rescue them from the inevitable dashed hopes. Apple let us down. Apple wasted our time..

Irritation

Accordingly, we are irritable. Disappointed. Less likely to forgive Apple’s lapses, silences and delays.

At the end of Mr. Segall’s note, we get the punch line.

I think it’s up to Apple to explain ‘what they’ve been doing all these years.’

In days of old, when Steve expressed that bit of displeasure, people would work around the clock to fix things, as if their jobs depend on it. Which was a pretty good assessment of reality.

Apple’s rise from the ashes has been powered by its ability to fire on all cylinders at once. Today at least a few cylinders seem to be sputtering.

I know Apple cares deeply about its customers, but it has to say that out loud. And in the world of Apple, it’s the products that do the talking.

Rehearsal

My reaction to Mr. Segall’s excellent article is to wonder what would have happened if Mr. Cook and Mr. Schiller had been able to magically present, in another timeline, their “hello again” event agenda to Mr. Jobs a week before the event. What might the reaction have been?

It might have been something like this. “That’s it? That’s all you have to present? You kept your customers waiting for years, and now you’ve built up their hopes, leveraging from my iMac announcement, and that’s all you have to deliver? You’ve wasted my time. Rewrite the script and show me again tomorrow.”

It’s something to ponder.

iMac introduction

It shook the world. Image credit: Low End Mac

This discussion closes the books for me on that event. It’s time for a new year and new beginnings for Apple.

Next page: The news debris for the week of December 2nd. Phooey on growth. Build out the Apple ecosystem.

6 Comments Add a comment

  1. Steve Jobs’ own instructions to Tim Cook, when he made Tim Cook the CEO of Apple, was to never ask what Steve Jobs would do.

    In the past 5 years since he took over as CEO, Tim Cook has grown Apple’s revenues and profits immensely. Apple is now (by far) the largest and most profitable company on Earth!

    Yet there are some people who think that they could have done better than Tim Cook and his team. In reality, Apple probably would have crashed and burned if it was led by any of those critics. And they use the ghost of Steve Jobs (as if they believe he would be in agreement with them if he was still alive) as justification for their negative rhetoric and undeserved criticism.

    These complainers are simply arrogant, narcissistic wannabes who look at Apple Inc. (a company which has increased its revenue and profits about 300% in the past 5 years) and have the absurd opinion that the company is “failing”, and that only THEY know how to “save” it from its own success.

    We are living in a “Trump” world, where expounding the most nonsensical opinions is more acceptable to some people than logic or facts.

  2. @NorthSaanichBC

    “We are living in a “Trump” world, where expounding the most nonsensical opinions is more acceptable to some people than logic or facts.”

    Hit the nail on the head.

  3. I’ve got to disagree atleast part of that @NorthSaanichBC

    Tim Cook hasn’t lead apple to success, he is just riding on coat tails.

    Running companies is like being a car mechanic, for the first 6 months, year what you have is what you inherited. How good a job you do, doesn’t show up until a good few months/years later.

    If you get a second hand car in perfect condition and do nothing, it will be fine for ages, just getting a little shabbier, until the fact that you didn’t top the oil up results in the engine seizing.

    Post Steve Jobs, you would have to be really crap to sink it, but years on, you can easily see they have forgotten, or never realised, what made them good.

    They made amazing tech that was a pleasure to use and made your day job easier. Now it just seems to be gimmicks and sparkle (fluffy wank).

    If you are a hardcore user and need a laptop, apple don’t do one any more (nothing with more than 16gb ram)!

    Once people get to the point where their day job is harder with a Mac, than the effort in switching to something else, they are going to have a huge uphill fight to get anyone back.

    I do get your point that armchair CEO is much easier than the real thing, but I think Tim Cook’s success is very similar to Trump’s.

    Trump has made millions of dollars, but he would have made more by just investing what he inherited, so in reality he has done a rubbish job of making money.

    Tim Cook is the same, sure Apple are still massively successful, but at the ground level I am seeing so many people starting to move away from OSX and ONLY because there is no product for them to buy.

    Apple don’t even need to be inventive, just simplify their line up and sell to each group separately.

    By simplify I mean: air was light, Mac was for everyone and cost conscious and pro was power users.

  4. jhorvatic

    Everyone must have forgotten that Tim Cook was working side by side with Steve Jobs for nearly 20 years. Also the fact that Steve told Tim don’t ask what Steve Jobs would do. Also that Tim Cook has nearly doubled Apple’s profits since he took over. I don’t believe for an instant that Steve’s second hand stuff lasted 10 years after. Everyone can second guess especially the critics who know nothing about how tech works or how to invent it. Dreaming of a product is one thing, making it real is entirely another. I think there tech is still amazing and they still have the best computers, phones, and iPads ever made. The whole widget is there versus the others which can only do parts and pieces that don’t work together very well. You can go buy that $500 PC and see how long it lasts, 1 maybe 2 years if your lucky. You get what you pay for and usually cheap is not going to hold up period.

  5. Andhaka

    Well, problem is I don’t really care if Cook is a good CEO for Apple or if the company is three gazillion times more profitable.

    I used to USE Apple products to get things done. I needed new machines for my needs and productivity. Apple has failed to market them, choosing a different strategy from the past. Cool, it’s their choice. It’s my choice to go where I can find what I need since I haven’t signed a lifetime agreement for supporting Apple politics.

    As users this should be our ONLY metric to judge Apple and its products. Anything else is bar talk.

    Cheers

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