Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, Gil Amelio’s advisor

Doing some research for a MacUser piece, I came across this from a Peter Burrows piece, writing for BusinessWeek in 1997, just after NeXT concluded the deal to take over Apple:

“After years of trying to take NeXT public, [Jobs will] get some $175 million in cash and stock for his 45%-plus stake. And other than a part-time consulting role–he'll even have an office at his old haunt–he's free to focus on Pixar Animation Studios and other interests. ''I'll advise Gil [Amelio] as much as I can, until I think they don't want my help or I decide they're not listening,'' he says.”

It really didn't quite work out that way – and I'm glad it didn't.

Apple 2011 = Microsoft ’97

Brilliant comment from “Chucky” on a post from from Michael Tsai:

Microsoft in 1997 had a very specific corporate strategy. They had a temporary situation of great market leverage. And rather than concentrating on making better products for their users, they began to concentrate on two objectives:

1 Using their leverage to avoid the rise of middle-wear.

2 Using their leverage to grab a rent-seeking slice of the commerce their users did out on the internet.

Microsoft in 1997 was willing to be incredibly evasive and disingenuous in its pursuit of those goals.

Does any of this remind you of Apple in 2011 in any way?

Apple has steadfastly avoided the creation of middleware on iOS – stuff like Flash, which acts as a layer between the OS and the application. And it is now using its leverage over the platform to grab a slice of all the commerce people do through apps.

Who’d have thought that Steve Jobs would have stuck so closely to the playbook written by Bill Gates?

No, Apple isn’t patenting developers’ work. But it still has a bigger problem

Patents are hard to understand. If any government wants to reduce the costs of running a business quickly and easily, it should revamp the system of patents to make them easy for people who aren’t lawyers to read, and harder to actually get in the first place.

So it’s no surprise that there’s been a massive amount of misreading of Apple’s patent application on “Systems and methods for accessing travel services using a portable electronic device”. What’s made it easier to misread is Apple’s – frankly stupid – use of FutureTap‘s interface for its excellent Where To? application in the descriptive part of the patent. FutureTap, understandably, are miffed because it looks like Apple is trying to steal their ideas.

And the coverage on the back of it follows suit. John Brownlee at Cult of Mac titled his “Apple submits software patent for other developer’s app, including title and design“. Om Malik at GigaOm (probably my favourite tech site) was so astounded by what he thinks Apple is doing he had to preface his post title with “Not a joke“. Continue reading

ARM’s experience shows why Steve Jobs is right on Flash

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...
Image via CrunchBase

Think that Steve Jobs is talking out of his behind when he says  that Apple needs full control over its platform? Perhaps ARM’s experience with Smartbooks will help you understand:

‘ARM dominates the mobile phone chip design market and has since 2008 been trying to get into the subnotebook market as well. The plan was to do so through Linux-based, ARM-powered ‘smartbooks’ that would provide an instant-on, longer-life alternative to x86-based netbooks but, according to ARM’s marketing vice president, Ian Drew, events have conspired to stall this plan.

“We thought [smartbooks] would be launched by now, but they’re not,” Drew told ZDNet UK on Tuesday. “I think one reason is to do with software maturity. We’ve seen things like Adobe slip — we’d originally scheduled for something like 2009.”‘

If you hand your developer platform over to a third party, you’re handing the whole platform over to them. You’re effectively tying your fate to theirs, and allowing them control over your future. For some, that might be acceptable. But for Apple, it’s not.

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CrunchGear catches the TechCrunch bullshit bug

Apparently, Apple is now responsible for via killing hardware innovation throughout the industry, at least according to John Biggs.

Remember when Apple bought up all the Flash memory? Well, Apple has also cornered the market in touchscreens. A few months ago I spoke to one inventor who had a horrible time trying to grab capitative touchscreens for a project, even at the smaller electronics markets. Manufacturers knew that something from Apple was about to drop so they drove up prices, resulting in a standstill in innovation.

By pricing the iPad at about $500 on a good day, Apple has forced Asia’s hand. The company clearly did plenty of deals with Foxconn and the rest of the suppliers down the line and while folks like LG are making a mint on screens and other components, they have essentially closed the spigot overseas leading companies like Asus and Acer to announce that they won’t try to compete.

This also explains why other companies just couldn’t get past the resistive touchscreen for so long. Suppliers knew that Apple was sniffing around and so they kept prices high. As a result we had almost two years of me-too garbage coming out of Samsung, Sony, and Nokia until – at long last – the smaller touchscreens are ubiquitous.

First: Where’s the actual evidence that Apple ever bought up all the flash memory? Sure, there was a rumour they had bought a vast amount of supply. But as I remember it, other manufacturers seemed to have no problems shipping the hundreds of products which also feature flash memory. And prices for flash devices as a whole came down.

Second: high quality capacitive glass might well be in short supply. Apple might well have bought up a lot of supply from key manufacturers. And John’s friend who wanted 100 or 1,000 panels for whatever his project was might well have found it hard to buy them in those numbers.

But do you seriously think for one second that if Nokia or Samsung (who MAKE panels) or any other major player wanted to launch a product and went to a manufacturer with a potential order for 10 million panels, they wouldn’t find a way to get what they wanted?

If Nokia went to a manufacturer of capacitive touch screens and said “Hey, we’d like to buy lots of them. By the way, we sell three times as many phones as Apple” who do you think that manufacturer would make first in line for supply?

Sure, it might take some time to make it happen. But the biggest customers get the best deals, and in LCDs Apple is by no means the biggest customer.

Third: Apple is a master of supply chain management. One of the main characteristics of the Steve Jobs era is that, thanks largely to terrific work by Tim Cook, it does not hold much inventory. And that includes inventory of parts. The idea that Apple is buying up a year’s worth of any kind of part is laughable.

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Dan Lyons on the lack of Jobs

Dan Lyons on why Apple needs Steve Jobs:

“OK. Deep breath. Let’s admit that Jobs is a royal pain in the neck. Most of us probably wouldn’t want to work for him, or live next door to him, or have to negotiate deals with him. He’s spoiled, and arrogant, and he has a terrible temper. But he’s also brilliant. Those lines at the Apple store today? Tim Cook didn’t create those. Neither did Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief, or Ron Johnson, the retail boss who runs the stores, or even Jon Ive, Apple’s design guru. No, Steve Jobs is the one who gets those people to line up. He’s the one with the vision. He’s the one who inspires the fanboys.”

And he’s right. More about Apple, and the seductiveness of it’s products, to come soon.

Steve Jobs’ health: How much should Apple reveal?

There is, unsurprisingly, a lot of talk about Steve Jobs’ illness. It’s understandable: Jobs is a person who thousands of Mac fans around the world think of more as a friend than just the CEO of the company whose computers they like.

This devotion and concern often manifests itself in a simple idea: Jobs’ health is his own business, and anyone suggesting that Apple should release information about it should be ashamed of themselves. My friend Joe Wilcox is getting a lot of stick at the moment for suggesting that Apple has handled things badly, and needs to start being honest with its shareholders about the state of Jobs’ health.

I can understand both sides in this argument. Anyone who has had a friend or family member be seriously ill knows what an intense and terrible experience it is, and the natural inclination of anyone is to want to keep as much private as possible. This is doubly-true if the illness is life-threatening.

But, Steve Jobs is also a senior executive of a publicly-traded company, and with that role comes certain responsibilities. Steve has responsibilities to his shareholders – and, importantly, so do Apple’s board of directors.

The illness of a senior executive is a classic area where boards need to be strong, and work for the shareholders. It’s a tough time for everyone, but the role of the board, as I’ll explain, means they have to look at things in a way which is impersonal – and which some might find insensitive.

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An iPhone with a keyboard? And some musings on Steve Jobs

newswireless.net .:. News .:. “An iPhone with a keyboard? Never!” Well,…:

“It is an article of Faith, of course, that whatever Steve Jobs does, is Right. And so, since the iPhone currently has no keyboard on it, it must logically follow that it is wrong to have a keyboard, and therefore that Steve Jobs will never produce a version that does have a keyboard.

Fervent fans can therefore see no reason to change the iPhone from its current ‘type on the touch screen, or not at all’ design. As one of the more zealous remarked when the suggestion was even mentioned: ‘The only people who think it needs a keyboard, are people who have never used it.’

Rumours from inside Cupertino suggest that Jobs himself doesn’t have this sort of religious hangup about his own work. Reports from inside mobile operators show that whether or not he ever makes it work, he is already trying to make a ‘slide-out’ keyboard for a corporate version of the iPhone.”

Jobs is, of course, well known for insisting that something isn’t a viable product, and that no one could possibly want one – right up until the day he launches it. See, for example, his half-decade insistence that the future of the Mac was PowerPC, while he sensibly produced a version which ran on Intel.

(Which reminds me of an example from history, as told to me by one of the former Newton team. Jobs called him and some other Newtoneers into a meeting, in which he held up a Newton. Pointing at it, he said “Apple makes computers. Computer have keyboards. This thing doesn’t have a keyboard.” And, leaving them to draw the inference out himself, he ended the meeting. Fast forward to today, and Apple makes rather a large chunk of money from computers which have no keyboard. Only now, they’re called “iPhone”.)

One thing that anyone watching Apple always needs to bare in mind is this: while Jobs is idolised by a cloud of true believers, he is, in fact, capable of performing strategic back-flips faster than almost anyone in the industry. While the true believers laud whatever thing they think is “the one true way”, Jobs will drop it like a ragged old hat as soon as he believes it’s to Apple’s advantage.

Jobs is ruled by only one true belief: Make the best, deepest, most elegant products you can, preferably with the biggest margin you can get away with.

It’s one of the reasons why I like him.

The motivations of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

Link: John Naughton: Steve Jobs’s presentation | Technology | The Observer.

"If Apple’s strategy succeeds, an increasing proportion of internet users will access through a gateway entirely controlled by a single company. For delighted iPhone users, this may seem like a great idea – just as it seemed like a great idea when Microsoft brought order to the chaotic PC market by developing the de facto standard operating system, and thereby acquired the kind of dominance that became so problematic. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates may have more in common than people realise."

John is sort-of right here. The difference is mostly in slightly deeper motivation. As Robert Cringely once said, Gates sees the PC as a method of transfering every spare dollar, pound and kopek into Bill Gates’ pockets. Jobs, on the other hand, sees what he does as a crusade for good taste.

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