Time Looks at Apple's Creative Process; Jobs on Cover

Time magazine has put Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the cover of the October 24, 2005 issue. The cover story is a look at how Apple designs new products -- the culture of design at Apple, so to speak -- how that makes it possible to develop the products that have come out of Cupertino, and how it contrasts with product design at other companies.

According to the article, the thing that separates Apple from every other tech company is the fact that products are designed holistically. There arenit stages where one group hands off the product to another, because all the teams are working with each other throughout the design process.

"Hereis what you find at a lot of companies," Mr. Jobs told Time magazine reporter Lev Grossman. "You know how you see a show car, and itis really cool, and then four years later you see the production car, and it sucks? And you go, What happened? They had it! They had it in the palm of their hands! They grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory!

"What happened was, the designers came up with this really great idea. Then they take it to the engineers, and the engineers go, iNah, we canit do that. Thatis impossible.i And so it gets a lot worse. Then they take it to the manufacturing people, and they go, iWe canit build that!i And it gets a lot worse."

Timeis cover, featuring Steve Jobs


Mr. Grossman also managed to capture in one succinct paragraph the catalyst behind Appleis design culture, and the reason Appleis business model is unlike any other companyis, namely Steve Jobs himself.

"Jobs is into control," wrote Mr. Grossman. "In itself, that is of no real importance, except that in a lot of ways, Apple is an expression of Jobsi personal ethos. One reason Apple makes its own hardware and software is that when Jobs goes to the trouble of creating a piece of software, he doesnit want it running on hardware built by a bunch of dudes he doesnit know and canit fire. He wants it on hardware he makes himself. How else can he be sure that every little thing integrates together the way he says -- nay, insists -- it should?"

Video iPod

Appleis newly announced video-capable iPod was the ostensible reason for the cover story in the first place-- even though issues of design come out as the central theme -- and Mr. Jobs spoke to the future of portable video.

"There is no market today for portable video," he said. "Weire going to sell millions of these to people who want to play their music, and video is going to come along for the ride. Anyone who wants to put out video content will put it out for this, and weill find out what happens."

According to the reporter, nobody disputes the fact that Apple is the gatekeeper of the digital music market with its iTunes Music Store. "If it becomes the gatekeeper to portable video," he wrote, "well, then, golly."

There is much more in the full article at Timeis Web site (subscription required).