Early days at Apple
“Steve [Jobs] was the most remarkably focused person I ever met in my life,” Apple’s senior vice president of design Jonathan Ive told Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter during the closing event of Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco.
“The thing with focus is that it’s not this thing you aspire to, like: ‘Oh, on Monday I’m going to be focused,’” said Ive, who rarely gives interviews. “It’s every single minute: ‘Why are we talking about this when we’re supposed to be talking about this?’”…
In addition to learning from Jobs about the importance of focus and of prioritizing the product over emotions, Ive said he “learned the whereabouts of a lot of rubbish hotels when we traveled…”
The wide-ranging conversation also touched on the size of Apple’s core design team (just 16 people, and they still begin their process with drawings), the new iPhone (Ive said its rounded edges make the bigger screen feel “less wide”) and the new Apple watch, which Ive described as the culmination of hundreds of years of function-first thinking.
“Why a watch and why not a pendant?” asked Carter.
Over the years, Ive replied, people learned that time pieces work best when they’re worn on the wrist. “It’s a really great place to glance quickly, for information,” Ive continued. “When we started working on it, it seemed like a natural, obvious place for the technology to end up…”
Ive said his team was focused on the here and now. “I don’t think we think about designing for a point in time. We hope that if it is truly simple, and we do a good job, then it will endure…”
I guess I’ve cared about design going back to early years as a motorhead. I followed Formula One racing, gran premio, since the early 1950’s – through the transition from pre-war concepts of engineering and aeronatutics into the grace and function of the Mercedes Silver Arrows. The same happened with sports cars in the period starting with Cisitalia and the bodywork of Bertone.
I still own an early aluminum-framed Olivetti portable typewriter. There are other examples. It starts as simply as looking at something made by human design, respecting functionability, understanding the blending of the two as design.
There’s lots of crap masquerading as industrial design. It falls by the wayside over time. Most of what’s discussed in the article stems from the interaction of Ive and Jobs. Some, of course, goes back to school days and beyond. It’s all of interest.
Bruce Plante’s cartoons appear in the Tulsa World.
Like many of my colleagues in Silicon Valley, I was having a fantastic day today. It is crisp in the shade, warm in the sun. The skies are a magical blue with puffy clouds floating like dreams. And when all seemed to be going well, an email in my inbox — without as much as the new message sound — arrived: Letter from Steve Jobs. It was as if the inbox was observing the solemnnity of the occasion. It is an end of an era.
The first thought that ran through my head was about Steve’s health, and I thought to myself that this cannot be good. I don’t care about him being the CEO or head of Apple. What I really do care about is his health. He wouldn’t be making this decision unless things were pretty dire.
It is incredibly hard for me to write right now. To me, like many of you, it is an incredibly emotional moment. I cannot look at Twitter, and through the mist in my eyes, I am having a tough time focusing on the screen of this computer. I cannot hear the sounds of the street or the ring of my phone. The second hand on my watch moves slowly, ever so slowly. I want to wake up and find it was all a nightmare.
And while I wish for him to have more time with his family, I am also being very selfish. I will miss the thespian who made inanimate objects like a computer become a thing to behold. A few years ago, I compared Steve to Howard Hughes using the line, “Some men dream the future. He built it…”
Jobs (and by extension, Apple) has taught me (and I am sure others) a big lesson: If you want to change something, you have to be patient and take the long view. If Apple and Steve’s incredible comeback teaches us something, it’s that when you are right and the world doesn’t see it that way, you just have to be patient and wait for the world to change its mind.
Today, we are living in a world that’s about taking short-term decisions: CEOs who pray to at the altar of the devil called quarterly earnings, companies that react to rivals, politicians who are only worried about the coming election cycle and leaders who are in for the near-term gain.
And then there are Steve and Apple: a leader and a company not afraid to take the long view, patiently building the way to the future envisioned for the company. Not afraid to invent the future and to be wrong. And almost always willing to do one small thing — cannibalize itself. Under Steve, Apple was happy to see the iPhone kill the iPod and iPad kill the MacBook. He understands that you don’t walk into the future by looking back. If you do, you trip over yourself and break your nose.
Thank you, Om, for bringing insight and understanding to sadness. Thanks for opening the door to the future – that seemed like it was ready to be shuttered by the naysayers who never believed in anything enough to fight for it with their whole being.
Click the link in the post and read the whole letter. I’ve posted about half of it here.
After 14 years as Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs resigned his post on Wednesday and was replaced by Tim Cook, who previously was the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Jobs, in turn, was elected as chairman of Apple’s board of directors.
“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come,” Jobs said in a letter addressed “to the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community.”
“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role,” Jobs wrote. “I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”
“In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration,” board member and Genentech chairman Art Levinson said in an Apple press release. “Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company. Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team.”
Jobs had been on a medical leave of absence since January 2011. He continued to hold the CEO title while Cook oversaw the day-to-day operations of the company. At the time, Jobs told Apple employees he was taking a leave from his day-to-day duties to “focus on my health.”
The full text of his letter of resignation and the board of directors’ statement are here.
It’s been six years since I bought my first Apple computer. The shiny new Mini had just been introduced and offered me an affordable way to experiment with Apple’s OS X operating system Like any longtime geek, I had spares of monitor, keyboard, etc. to hook up.
After 22 years – at the time – of being an adept with Microsoft, IBM and precursor operating systems there were a number of day-to-day encumbrances and questions I was tired of resolving, day after day, time after time.
That Mini and OS X put all that behind me. I was never a command-line addict or the sort of geek who needed to be up to my elbows inside an OS. I just needed the tools I used on a daily basis to work properly and predictably. I never looked back.
I credit Steve Jobs for what he did to make that change so easy for me. As someone who’s spent a long and varied career involved with commerce around the planet, I also appreciate the cultural and social boundaries he’s set aside in the process of building Apple into one of the most successful firms on the planet.
Last night, the only place to be was at king-of-all-venture-capitalists John Doerr’s house in Woodside, California, where President Barack Obama sat down with none other than Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Yahoo’s Carol Bartz and a handful of other billionaire tech titans.
The White House Flickr feed shared the above image, taken by Pete Souza, identifying these people only as “Technology Business Leaders,” though bloggers made small work of attaching names to faces. According to the the New York Times political blog, The Caucus, the remaining folks in the shot are: Cisco’s John Chambers, Twitter’s Dick Costolo, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Stanford University president John Hennessy, Genentech’s Art Levinson and “cleantech” entrepreneur Steve Westly.
And a good time was had by all.
Rupert Murdoch, head honcho of the News Corp. and Fox News, is investing $30 million and a staff of about 100 to create and run The Daily, the first newspaper available only on the iPad and other tablet devices, scheduled to roll out early next year…
The New York Times media columnist David Carr explored the prospect: The Daily will still retain some of the more archaic aspects of a print newspaper in that it will be produced into the evening and “printed” in the morning. Updates will come, but not like we’re used to with news websites now.
Even more bizarre: “The Daily will have no inbound links from other sites, and nothing outbound either.”
For the most part, it will produce original content, although Fox Sports will provide some video. Murdoch is bringing some heavy hitters into the new project: The New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, ABC News TV producer Steve Alperin and Page Six’s Richard Johnson.
While millions of readers were lost when News Corp. moved The Times of London and The Sunday Times behind a pay wall in July, the Daily can start with a clean slate having never been free. It will have an “easy payment” format…
John Koblin at Women’s Wear Daily reported more details: The Daily will be in beta mode before the new year, around Christmas, and will cost 99 cents for a 7-day week subscription, or $4.25/month. WWD also reports that the newspaper will go beyond the iPad to other tablet devices beginning in 2011, so they won’t be missing those growing number of Android consumers…
Sounds like Rupert has actually been paying attention to Steve Jobs. His primo criticism of all the business models attempted for print media spin-offs has been what newspaper types think they can sharge for unlimited access to their product.
Maybe Murdoch has it right? Unless he screws up content like his TV Faux News.
The latest rumor, btw, has a debut press event sked for 9 December – headlining both Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch. Will Rupert wear a black mock turtleneck? Sure as hell Jobs ain’t wearing a suit and tie.
If you were wondering why both Apple and AT&T melted down when taking orders for the iPhone 4 on Tuesday, we have the answer. Apple sold 600,000 of the things.
According to Apple’s press release, “It was the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in a single day and was far higher than we anticipated, resulting in many order and approval system malfunctions.”
It wasn’t helped by AT&T’s new ordering system which, according to an AT&T insider was updated over the weekend with new fraud-prevention measures and then left untested before iPhone ordering opened. AT&T has issued a statement saying that on launch day, pre-order sales were “10-times higher than the first day of pre-ordering for the iPhone 3G S last year.” Now AT&T has “temporarily suspended” ordering for the iPhone 4…
The crush of orders shouldn’t have come as a surprise to AT&T and Apple. All the iPhone 3G owners who held off buying the 3GS last year are now ready for an upgrade…And AT&T has decided to let many 3GS owners upgrade early without penalty. You might think that this unholy combination would lead to a surge in demand, and you’d be dead right: On Tuesday there were 13 million visits to AT&T by customers checking their eligibility to upgrade.
What does this mean for you, the customer? Delivery dates have slipped again, this time to July 14th – launch day is June 24 and new orders were already delayed to July 2…And this is in the United States. Countries that do not yet even have a launch date should be prepared for a long wait.
The only thing missing from the seven thousand articles noting the demand are new rationales from Apple-haters still convinced that sound and useful engineering, attractive design, means nothing in the marketplace.
It’s a psycho-social plot by Steve Jobs to take over the world – still seems to suffice.
Microsoft Corp joined archrival Apple Inc in criticizing Adobe Systems Inc’s widely used Flash multimedia software, creating a rare bond among the two computing giants.
Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs sharply criticized Flash, which is used to produce videos and games for many Internet sites on Thursday. Apple has banned Flash from its iPhone and iPad.
A Microsoft executive pitched in later that day, saying while the ubiquity of Flash makes it easy for consumers to access video on the web, the standard has flaws.
“Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security and performance,” said Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for the Internet Explorer browser.
He said that Microsoft is backing the same protocols for delivering multimedia content over the Web that Apple is promoting, a group of standards known as HTML5.
But Microsoft was more conciliatory toward Adobe than Apple, saying it works closely with Flash engineers to help fix bugs that it finds in the product.
Steve Jobs, by comparison, said in his open letter that it is time for the industry to move beyond Flash.
Which is what Microsoft said when it became time to move beyond DOS. When a “standard” not only doesn’t progress; but, holds back development of improved standards and protocols – it’s time to move on.
Cripes, I’m sitting here constructing this Post with a browser that has a plug-in to block Flash. I ain’t exactly alone.
A month after the rumors first started flying, Apple finally confirmed that it has indeed purchased Intrinsity, a Texas-based chipmaker.
Apple confirmed the acquisition on Tuesday to The New York Times, though it did not disclose the purchase price or what Apple’s plans for Intrinsity are. One guess has the value at $121 million.
It’s the second chipmaker purchased by Apple in two years starting with P.A. Semi, which it bought for $278 million. It’s also the fourth acquisition Apple has made since last fall; it bought map API maker PlaceBase in October, social music site LaLa in December, and mobile ad company Quattro Wireless in January for $275 million.
Though it appears like Apple is on a bit of a shopping spree right now, the company has the funds to back it up. At the end of its second fiscal quarter of 2010, Apple reported it had accumulated $41.7 billion in cash. Though Steve Jobs told investors at the annual company meeting that he had no plans to use that to offer a dividend to shareholders, he did hint what he’d rather do instead.
“You never know what opportunity is around the corner,” Jobs said at the February meeting. “We’re very fortunate that if we needed to acquire something we could write a check for it and not have to borrow money.”
American-owned company doing most of its manufacturing offshore – making a lot of money for Apple investors who are often liable to be Americans. Intrinsity provides tools, technology and design expertise to the chip industry. Based in Austin, Texas – which ain’t Republican Texas country.
Not the purest example of what can be achieved in the 21st Century economy; but, certainly more productive than the buggywhips preferred as central to a growing economy by politicians who still haven’t figured out Maynard Keynes or Franklin Roosevelt.