Eddy Cue: Steve Jobs Built Apple to Last 100 Years

| Analysis

According to Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, the late Steve Jobs built Apple to last 100 to 200 years. The comments came during this week's Code Conference in response to a question from Re/code cofounder Kara Swisher in the wake Mr. Cue's comment that Apple had the best product pipeline he's seen in 25 years.

Eddy Cue at Code Conference

Eddy Cue at Code Conference

Ms. Swisher wanted to know about Steve Jobs's influence at Apple, "because he overhangs almost everything at Apple." She asked if that had "changed at all when you're talking about this 'best product pipepline?'"

Mr. Cue responded:

One of the things he wanted to create was an amazing culture that was always going to last longer than he was going to be CEO. I believe he learned that once by having left Apple and seeing what happened to Apple after he left.

So when he came back—I had the pleasure of working with him for 17 years very closely every day—we wanted [...] what we were building to last for 100 years or 200 years.

And that's the culture he created at Apple. The attention to detail; caring about every little, little detail about our products; not trying to do too many things; do a few things, but do them really great.

That's the same culture that all of our folks have and what I hope continues way past when I'm here...

This is something I've written about frequently since Steve Jobs passed away, particularly when deconstructing comments from pundits and a few analysts who have said that Apple could no longer innovate without Steve Jobs.

Shortly before he died, Mr. Jobs told Walter Isaacson for his biography Steve Jobs that the thing he was most proud of having created was not an individual product like the Mac or the iPhone, but rather Apple itself. He said that he wanted to ensure the company's culture of innovation would continue without him and that he thought he had set it up to do so.

If you think that Apple was remarkable because of Steve Jobs, it's irrational to ignore his belief that he had designed Apple to be great without him until proven otherwise. This is something that many critics can't seem to wrap their heads around.

Mr. Cue's comments build on this in my mind, and it's very interesting to hear such a specific and extraordinary length of time applied to that vision. If Apple's culture of innovation remains intact for 100-200 years, it would be a first in the corporate world.

Few companies have achieved such longevity in any form, let alone in the form of a culture dedicated to innovation. If anyone could do it, though, it was Steve Jobs.

Here's the segment of Eddy Cue and Jimmy Iovine's interview at Code Conference dealing with this topic. Other highlights include Mr. Cue denying that there was a major reset at Apple when Mr. Jobs died and Jimmy Iovine talking about how Apple moves as fast as a small company despite being so large.

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Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

He has a point. Next season on CW’s “The 100”, there will supposedly be a subplot where the kids travel to an Apple Store to get a replacement Airport Base Station and are cheerfully and efficiently served by hipster grounders.

Bob Forsberg

Maybe Steve built Apple to last 100+ years but the current management teams in Cupertino are on track to destroy it in 20. Cook is a business CEO but lacks the talent to direct the aimless creative types his predecessor excelled at.


Maybe in your opinion, Bob.  But frankly you really don’t have a clue how well he leads within Apple.  Someone here predicted that Jony would leave within x months of ‘Cookie’ taking over, but that failed to happen.  As Jony is basically the creative brains behind Apple, and has the skills to ‘direct the aimless creative types’, and is still there even with the ‘talentless’ Cook in charge, I don’t see where your argument holds any water at all.

My feeling is that the combination of Tim and Jony (and to some extent, the other leaders of Apple) all combine to more than equal the special person that Steve Jobs was.  Which was his entire goal - put the right people in place to lead Apple in a way that replicates how he led Apple, since he knew he wouldn’t be there forever.  A true testament to Steve Jobs that many people fail to understand.

But kudos to your ‘destroying it in 20 years’ reference.  Others here have put their predictions of doom and gloom on a much shorter time frame (typically, ‘in about a year…’) and have been proven wrong time and time and time again.  Frankly, even my tracking of idiotic predictions doesn’t go beyond a few years, so your 20 year prediction is safe, albeit also doesn’t hold much water either.  Care to bring it closer to a more trackable prediction?  Maybe 4 years?  5 years?  Might give you more credence here.

Bryan, please note that no names, either real or fictional, were referenced in my post, therefore no personal attacks were possible.



One need look no further than at any Mac to see Apple’s staying power. Think of it: In the thirty years since the Mac’s introduction, no other computer from 1984 has survived, let alone thrived. Atari 800 and ST, Commodore 64 and Amiga, TI99/4A (my first computer), IBM PC and PCjr., TRS-80, Timex/Sinclair…all of them, gone. Only the Mac survived, despite it being called an overpriced toy, and despite Apple being declared dying or dead or doomed for every single year of its existence.

And today, Apple has not only the Mac but the iPhone and iPad, as well as iTunes. And, oh yeah, about $200 billion in cash. I wouldn’t bet against them.

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