Steve Jobs On Optimism, Innovation, Apple, Profitability, Piracy & More

Steve Jobs says heis an optimist. That might be obvious to anyone looking at his ongoing fight for a minority position in the computer industry. Then again, heis started two computer companies from scratch, and bought a small little digital animation house called Pixar from George Lucas before there was such a thing as digital animation, at least in most peopleis minds.

It takes an optimist to do that sort of thing, but Steve Jobs makes a point of claiming that title in a very interesting interview published by BusinessWeek. The interview covers such topics as innovation in the computing industry, or the lack of it, profitability, piracy ("Stealing music is wrong," said Mr. Jobs), and even the future of Silicon Valley. An excerpt from the published interview:

Q: Many tech companies have cut research and development spending because they believe the industry is slowing down. You havenit. Why?
A: What has happened in technology over the last few years has been about the downturn, not the future of technology. A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of [customers], they would continue to open their wallets.

And thatis what weive done. Weive been turning out more new products than ever before, and Apple is one of only two companies making money in the PC business. Weire not making a lot, but other than Dell, weire the only one. Others are losing money -- a lot of money.

Q: Are you concerned that your peers lack fresh ideas?
A: I look around, and Iim pretty stunned at how many successful young companies I see. I look at eBay, and Iim amazed. I look at Google, and Iim amazed. These are some pretty good companies in the making, and theyire not just one-product companies -- theyire real companies. Theyire already bigger than some of the great entrepreneurial companies of the past. So I think a lot of people got miscalibrated because of the Internet boom.

The rate of innovation now is not significantly different from what Iive seen over the last 20 years, if you take out the Internet craziness. I see a recovery in innovation coming out of this downturn. I see some very strong companies that have been built even in these very tough times. And I see some new sprouts popping up out of universities. Iim an optimist.

There is a lot more information in the full article at the BusinessWeek Web site, and we recommend it as a very good read.