Since his death Steve Jobs has been all over the press. He’s recently been referred to as a great leader, a visionary and lately an icon and idol.
Sitting here on my iPad chopping out this article. I have to wonder, is all of this incredible flood of heroic press earned, marketed or simply a result of a company climbing to the top with all the credit being given to its CEO.
First off, let’s get the “fanboy or Apple hater” question out of the way. Yes, I have an iPad, yes, I have an iPhone- issued from my company. But my personal phone is a Samsung Galaxy S2 and I love it. To put it simply, I am a it fan of Android. I enjoy it’s openness and current progress as a mobile OS. I inherited a MacBook from my brother and loved it. I used a Mac Quadra in the old 7.0 days. But I am also a professional IT mensch and have and do use Windows in some version or another every day. To be honest, my favorite operating system ever is the Amiga OS. God I loved Amiga. I play with Linux too but that’s another story. So, no, I am not an Apple hater and even had a Newton- damnit!
Now that that is out of the way, let’s get to my thoughts:
Steve Jobs, yep, this guy brought Apple back around and really drove the company to success after being brought back in and John Sculley left the company. Sure, Apple had a couple of bad years under Sculley, it also had a couple of good ones.
Let’s have a look at John Sculley:
I am writing this from memory and Sculley was in charge when I had my Quadra and Newton.
– Sculley came up with the word “keynote speech,” yeah, the one that everyone thinks Jobs was famous for. Also, Sculley was a great keynote speaker, and many think that Jobs took on many of Sculley’s best traits.
– Sculley was adamant about portable computing being computing of the future. He showed this with his push of the newton.
– Sculley was the visionary behind QuickTime, portable computing and more at Apple in the early 90’s. And the list goes on.
So what happened and why did it take Steve Jobs to get Apple back on track? Well, during the nineties Apple started doing what many other new and growing computer companies did (Commodore included) produce too many products and not enough focus on a few great ones. What do I mean by this. Just look at Commodore’s Amiga. There was an Amiga 1000, 500, 510, 2000, 2500 and other iterations all on the market at the same time. The consumer who wanted to buy an Amiga because they offered great graphics and video editing needed a handbook just to figure out which one was the best for them. This was simply ridiculous. Oddly, this trend was the downfall for Commodore and was followed by many other computer manufactures of the time.
Simply, this is what Jobs realized, he came in and trimmed down the product line to a manageable group, and focused on those products one hundred percent. He took the smaller product line and focused on design, user experience and marketing. The question is, does this make Steve Jobs an icon, a genius or a visionary? A visionary, maybe, considering the trend at the time. But he really just tuned and trimmed all the things that Sculley had started. I am sure I’ll receive tons of hate mail for this last statement but it is simply a fact.
Steve Jobs later did some wonderful keynotes and was fearsome about design details. But like all great leaders he surrounded himself with genius. John Sculley brought in a super junior designer for the Newton by the name of Jon Ivie. Sculley was very impressed with Ivie and was sure that we would bring out the best in Apple design for future products. So, Jobs inherited the design wizard from Sculley and with added more focus on fewer products. Jobs was smart enough to see the potential in Ivie and took advantage of his abilities.
Steve Jobs personally hired a master of operations, logistic and warehousing by the name of Tim Cook. This guy had done a great job at Compaq and had a great understanding of operations and turnover. Some say he brought Apple into profitability not Steve Jobs. But of course as CEO, Steve Jobs received all the credit for the brilliance of both Cook and Ivie.
So this brings me back to my initial question, Should we be idolizing Steve Jobs? Or should we accept that he was a smart, tough, CEO who knew talent when he saw it and listened to them?
Again, I respect the guy and agree, he turned around a company and it became the number one technology manufacturer in the world. My question still is, do need a reality check?
I am truly interested in your opinion. Feel free to post away.