20111014

Steve's Wonders

The first computer I owned was a Mac. That was back in 1989. I switched for my third one, but even now I keep a special affection for Apple.

I'm not a member of the Stevejobs Adventist Church and I never quite liked the guy, but I always respected the innovator.

Not the inventor but the innovator, the person who decisively accelerates the adoption of something new. People like to quote Steve Jobs quoting Picasso ("good artists copy, great artists steal"), or to remember how he "stole" Xerox's inventions (the windows interface later copied by Microsoft, the mouse)... Nokia and others could argue the Apple Store and iPhone borrowed more than a few characteristics but you've got the general idea : the company suing Samsung & co is not exactly the Saint it pretends to be.

Of course, Steve Jobs was not the only brain in Cupertino, and not the man who brought up new ideas. Of course, his fingerprints will be all over Apple's releases for the next few years, and the company has the money to remain a top competitor far beyond that.

But Apple lost the heck of a decision maker.

Innovating is about making decisions, trading-off at all levels (time to market, availability of key features, readiness of distribution channels...)... and this is the fastest-changing of all environments. Steve Jobs knew when to say no and when to say go. He could launch the first iPhone in 2G because he knew he could count on the customer appetence for the brand (a key asset built over years and perfectly entertained by the King of Hype), and because he had to leverage on the iPod / iTunes momentum without waiting for competitors to soak the market with 3G novelties. But some decisions must have been tougher, and future decision makings will be tougher without him.

It's time for Apple to expose its real innovation engine. We don't necessarily need to hear it roar now and then, but constant purring would be a nice surprise.

mot-bile 2011



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