Apples will Continue to Fall from Trees

It’s not so much that Steve Jobs has stepped down as the head of Apple that saddens me, it’s the reason why he is stepping down. Cancer invades so many people’s bodies and it’s a ruthless scourge. Regardless of which side of the technology war you are on, no one should be happy about the fate that has befallen Mr. Jobs. Go ahead and despise Apple, but keep Mr. Jobs on the good side of your thoughts. I had a brush with cancer a couple of years ago, but was one of the lucky ones. I am completely cancer free now and expect to remain that way for a very, very long time thank you.

With or without Steve, Apple will continue to grow and thrive. It’s not simply a computer manufacturer any longer. It has evolved well beyond the days when Macs were found in the occasional household. Apple has transformed the music industry and the personal computer industry, redefined the handset into a smartphone, remade retailing and introduced the tablet.

How did they do it? They broke with conventional wisdom and overcame the inertias that weigh down firms and industries. But the main ingredient of success in my opinion, is they made products that worked with people’s daily lives. Seamless integration and updates. No tribal language code. A near flawless user experience that are beautiful to look at. Not always plug and play, but pretty close. If you make products that people can use and fills a desire they have, you are more than halfway there. Apple actually went the full mile, closing the last 50% by making what they delivered emotional. They then amplified those products with superior positioning and marketing.

But most of all, they never gave up. No matter how dark the investor and pundit predictions were, or how large and dominant Microsoft became, they came in everyday and worked at it. Admirable.

Remember when no one wanted to copy Apple? Now everyone covets and races to copy them. Was this in large part the work of Super Steve? You bet. But there is no way he did this alone. It takes a village, and he has built a really big one.

Tim Cook, now the leader, did some amazing things. He got Apple’s on hand inventory down from months to days and is credited with being the supply chain wizard that allowed the firm to bring out so many products so often and quickly. Does he have the vision of a Jobs? No, no one does. But he does have a vision, and Steve is not walking out the door. He will be around and he will have more ideas and the wise folks in Cupertino will listen. His fingerprints will be on things for quite some time. It’s quite possible that not being CEO will give him even more time to be creative. That could actually accelerate Apple’s momentum. Perhaps he should have resigned sooner.

Don’t write off Apple or Mr. Jobs.

3 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your personal story in this post, Steve. “Keep Mr. Jobs on the good side of your thoughts” — well put. Meantime Apple is now in an interesting position: Steve Jobs is more than the face of the Apple brand — he is the Apple brand. Without him as everyday CEO, the company must find another way to build its brand. Fortunately for Apple, as you point out, the organization has an unmatched reputation for creating innovative and user friendly products that have become part of our lives. I wonder if Apple will focus its marketing and PR on the everyday designers and engineers who labor behind the scenes to give us the iPad and iPhone? And perhaps the company will open up its brand more with social media (a largely untapped opportunity for Apple) to show you more of its personality beyond Steve Jobs? This is a sad time for Steve Jobs, and an interesting time for Apple.

    1. Interesting insight related to PR. They have begun to do some of this with their instructional video vignettes on the site over the past few years. Your observation on their lack of use of social is fascinating. There is a huge opportunity here, but it would be a step change for them as they keep things close to the vest and under control. Will be fun to watch.

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