Steve Jobs unknowingly predicts the downfall of Apple


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/22/steve-jobs-unknowingly-predict.html


#2

You mean the guy who created a myth around himself through pageantry and marketing gimmicks thinks those things lead to a company’s demise?

Remember the Macintosh cost 2500 bucks at launch because Steve Jobs wanted to include the marketing costs. Which lead to the computer being a failure. His life is full of contradictory quotes made in the heat of ascetics. I would never understand cult of personality around him, especially from long-time Apple nerds.


#3

YES!
Um, what was their monopoly again?


#4

Huh? Every product ever sold includes marketing costs in the retail price.

Yeah, that Macintosh sure was a failure… ಠ_ಠ


#5

There’s some line in the Whit Stillman movie “Barcelona” where a character says that business theory boils down to a bunch of anecdotes that you can tell to support any point you want to make.

That said, apple is losing this customer by failing to sell a decent professional desktop machine. So maybe Steve’s on to something here…


#6

As Sales & Marketing departments become more adept at communicating the glories of a product to consumers, they become more incompetent at communicating their intentions in-house. When I had a customer service job, it was common to learn about Sales & Marketing’s latest campaigns in the form of an angry call from a customer who had already made a purchase. And that’s yet another reason not to run government “like a business.” Collect them all.


#7

That is very simplistic view of cost accounting. I would like to explain further, but it is entirely too dry and it’s midnight where I am.

It was. The sales died pretty quickly and in Jobs own words the cost was the reason “Microsoft dominated the market”. It was the reason Jobs was fired from Apple, the company’s continuing focus on it caused it to lose significant market share and nearly drove them to bankruptcy. When Jobs came back and did the hideous Candy iMac line, nobody thought it would be a hit. It had OS9, the worst consumer operating system ever, only had the ADB for accessories(“Courage”), and were fantastically ugly. It was only persistence that made the Mac brand survive, the market had rejected it years ago.

Apple still does that. The first iteration of Macbook Air was a flop. Apple TV has never gained much traction. In twenty years, Apple Watch might actually become a thing and people will believe that it was always a success, like the Mac.


#8

In short, it’s because sales and marketing and supply chain push the “product people” out.

Apple made a mistake in promoting an operational guy who excelled at his job refining and cutting costs to lead a company known for innovating products. See: Sculley/Spindler/Amelio for other examples of such operational leaders


#9

Wozniak was the product guy; Jobs is the sales and marketing guy. He’s just such a good marketer, he’s convinced many that he’s the product guy.


#10

I’m no fan boy but that’s completely unfair, jobs was very involved in directing the development and Aesthetics of the products


#11

On a whim, I bought my first apple in 2002, a Powermac G4 mirror door desktop, complete with a matching 15" screen.

I used it personally and for business for 7 years. Then my father used it another 7 for his simple design business. Now it’s in a spare bedroom and my kid plays dwarf fortress. I’ve cut HD video, and lossless audio on it (not fast, but still does the job). The case looks as clean and unique as it did when it was released.

Apple made devices sexy, but I believe the innovations of OS X back in the early 2ks was a huge deal. For years I was behind the “better designed” aura that floated around apple products.

Sadly, I believe that as personal computing is hitting some plateaus Apple is forced to make new stuff for the sake of making new stuff to stay alive. The growing number of features crammed into the IOS as OSX product are beyond absurd. When you read about how eaisly distracted the human mind is (like in the MIT Press book ‘The Distracted Mind’), you realize that all the tabs, spaces and notifications contribute to a poor UI experience, not a better one.

If I could go to the apple store and trade out the guts of my g4 for some newer apple tech under the hood I would gladly do so. But now the towers and screw open laptop bottoms are gone. Instead they sell us glued together devices to keep us stuck.

Forbes #1 most valued global brand. For now, anyway…


#12

Apple isn’t magic. I have to use one at work. Nice hardware. But they just upgraded our OS. It used to be if I had the preview pane on a finder window, I could make it smaller and it would remember to keep it smaller. Nope. Every god damn time I go forward or back in the files, I come back to that root director and the fucker has expanded to half the widow size. OMFG - do the people who program the OS not use it? This is like the first thing you notice within 10 min of using it.


#13

… from a marketing perspective, albeit while substituting his personal judgement for real market/consumer research and product/market testing. Most people think marketing is the gloss, the spin, the advertising, etc. True marketing, from identifying market opportunities, segments, and offers that satisfy identified demand, through to realising and delivering them at a price point and then ‘selling’ (‘marketing’) them, absolutely should be strongly influencing product design as part of that overall product proposition. The one exception to this may be the truly innovative brand new product/market segment - e.g. nobody knew they wanted/needed a Walkman until Sony decided to enter it into the market. Ditto certain Apple products, though there is an argument that none of Apple’s use cases (e.g. iPod, iPhone) were new or innovative, but simply better packaging/function/usability combinations, refining existing products that had already identified and partially met emerging needs.

(Ends lecture with apologies - but misuse and misunderstanding of the true breadth and responsibility of Marketing as a discipline, is something that does, irrationally, bug me.)


#14

And before people weigh in to take issue with my comments (which is fine, they certainly should if they have other views) let me clarify: I should have said I reject the alleged (and real in many companies) divide between ‘product’ people and ‘marketing’ people. Mostly, and as a crude generalisation, I blame marketing people - because most of them do not understand what marketing ought to be fully including in its calculations (though many companies do not give them the opportunity to practice it, if the marketing people DO understand that).

Product people should also be marketing people, and marketing people should also be product people. Silos are what cause more damage to companies.


#15

Which is more or less what Jobs said. The Balkanized marketer gets told: “here’s your product, go sell it”. The Balkanized developer gets lost in the woods and makes the Apple TV at a time when every new TV has the same capability built in.


#16

Started using Apple products back in 2000 with the iMac (OS9), which I thought was great. Built a recording studio around an early G4 Tower. Was a fan of the early versions of OS 10 and picked up iPods, Pads and Phones. Again, always found it a great product and easy to use. These days, I’m seeing bloat and bad design decisions in both hardware and software. Not very happy with Apple products these days but I still run my 16 year old G4 tower running OS9 to produce audio. That works phenomenally well!


#17

Actually do your research. Jobs wanted the Macintosh to launch for half that price to gain market share. Scully over ruled him.

With that said, all companies budget marketing cost.


#18

Wozniak was the geek. The guy who liked to tinker with electronics. Jobs might not have had that talent, but he knew what people wanted, could spot talent, and could focus on bringing a good product to life.

Without Jobs there would have been no Apple. Jobs created three successful companies, which takes more than luck.

Wozniak hasn’t done much since the Apple II. This isn’t a critism - just a fact.


#19

That’s all true, and I don’t disagree. Though, without Wozniak there also wouldn’t have been an Apple.

But anyways, Jobs is still the marketing and sales guy. When Wozniak built blue boxes, Jobs took them and sold them. Woz build the Apple 1, Job sold it. Jobs was not a technical guy, and was not hands on with engineering work. He had an amazing sense for what would sell and how to balance cost/aesthetics in a marketing-friendly way. He could assemble teams of geeks and push them to create great things. He could review the products and send feedback to iterate and re-design. He could stand up and give a great presentation, sell products and take credit for them. But jobs didn’t come up with products himself. That was the product guys. Perhaps most marketers are elitist/arrogant and shun the product guys, and maybe Job’s skill was in identifying them and refining the engineering concepts. But he was still the sales and marketing guy.


#20

Wow is that a stretch! NeXT, though visionary, was not a financial success, no one would have bought it for anything like what Apple did. Pixar was nearly a failure but for the genius of John Lassiter, who predated Jobs. according to accounts, Jobs was on the verge of selling it after spinning off the hardware business when suddenly it looked like the 1st movie, Toy Story, might be a hit. Only then did he make himself CEO and actually lead the company.