After reading and listening to a lot of speculation for the reason Steve Jobs has decided to take some time off for medical reasons it really made me start thinking about the influences of other CEOs on their companies.
Now people who have followed Apple from the beginnings will tell you that Steve Jobs is not like any other CEO and his presence is the single reason for Apple’s success but you really have to take that with a grain of salt.
You have to remember that Steve was a driving force in the beginning of Apple doing what almost no one else could do and that was bringing computing to the desktop and the elementary school systems… His desire to get the job done was the reason he hired so many competent staff and his drive was one of the reasons so many of them left.
The fact is at Apple Steve gets what he wants no matter what… like a 3 year old bitching for ice cream he will screw with anyone and everyone until he gets what he is asking for… It doesn’t matter that no one else has ever done it … or that maybe there is a better way to do it… if he wants it .. he gets it.
But how has that really built Apple into a power house computer company?
The fact is the Apple Operating System has long been gone from his computers which now run a bastardized version of BSD a Unix operating system…
This leaves the rest of his company which you could say is split between hand held electronics and the sale of the latest Katy Perry single on iTunes. Does anyone really like iTunes? I personally never used it because I listen to all my music on a YouTube Playlist for free.
Now as a professional designer you may have wondered why I wasn’t sucked into the Apple Mind Meld… well along with loving design at the early age of my career I was also a software developer. This was at the point where windows was displacing Apple in the area of design and most if not all of the higher level aps had migrated to windows.
When I was delving into writing for Apple Computers I found roadblocks and harsh sounding language if I wanted to agree with making programs through the Apple / MAC OS API. Basically you were giving up your own rights just to make Apple a better platform.
At the same point Windows was introducing so much documentation and helper utilities / sample code it was a no brainer to decide to work on a platform that wanted me to develop for it.
Well even though I don’t write as many aps as I use to there is still so much that Apple has to gain that the loss of Jobs won’t make a huge difference to any developer.
Lets face it Apple does not engineer every part of their product.. like most they find pieces that they can put together and they put them together in ways other people haven’t thought about. This is great and maybe some of the imagination will be lost if or when Steve ever retires permanently…
However for real innovation it takes more then one vision…
Locking products out of the market has never lead to innovation and the Apple Platform should have been extinct a decade ago… So if you think Apple really makes differences you need to put down the koolaid and take a look around… there is a big bright shiny world out there… with lots and lots of stuff.