Apple Process

The first Apple Logo from 1976 (the year both I and the com­pa­ny were born) was inscribed with the phrase: “New­ton… A Mind For­ev­er Voy­ag­ing Through Strange Seas of Thought … Alone.”

Steve Jobs has died. And while my fin­gers are too numb to type, I have an equal­ly numb­ing urge to get some thoughts off my mind and onto the screen.

Why do I feel so strick­en by the pass­ing of some­one out­side my imme­di­ate fam­i­ly, cir­cle of friends or even list of acquain­tances? Is it because he made the best phone (itself a hyper­bol­ic claim)? The great­est portable music play­er? The most inter­ac­tive shop­ping expe­ri­ence both in brick and mor­tar (or should I say glass and steel?) and online? Is it because he co-found­ed a com­pa­ny that began life in his garage and evolved into a world-wide brand?

No. Those are all Apple Prod­ucts. Jobs’ true lega­cy is the Apple Process. Or, to put it in sim­pler, more effec­tive, more Apple-esque terms: What will stay with me is not what Steve Jobs did, but how he did it.

Time and time again, Jobs proved that qual­i­ty and quan­ti­ty are not mutu­al­ly exclu­sive, by focus­ing as much on design as on func­tion, on crafts­man­ship as on pop­u­lar­i­ty, on art as on mass appeal. He orga­nized a core team that bal­anced celebri­ty with humil­i­ty to such an extent that Apple itself came to be per­son­i­fied in Steve Jobs, Mar­ket­ing in Phil Schiller, and Design in Jonathan Ive. These are peo­ple we’ve come to know, trust, fol­low, and expect things from. And, always true to form, Apple has con­tin­ued to pour as much thought into the edge of a lap­top cas­ing as it has into the struc­ture of a glass stair­case in its retail store, as it has into the inner work­ings of its machines (even the guts of their lap­tops are beautiful).

Your time is lim­it­ed, so don’t waste it liv­ing some­one else’s life. — Steve Jobs

Jobs under­stood that it is not what the mar­ket wants, but what you tell it that it wants. And you do so by, to use two more Apple-isms, “think­ing dif­fer­ent” to cre­ate “insane­ly great” prod­ucts. When your Oper­at­ing Sys­tem achieves its max­i­mum poten­tial, you turn around and start from scratch (Mac OSX). When sales of your high-end lap­tops hit an all-time high, you go around and intro­duce not only a new prod­uct but an entire­ly new cat­e­go­ry of prod­ucts (iPad). When the world itself seems to be tran­si­tion­ing into the Cloud, you go out and build a line of retail bou­tiques so exclu­sive, it para­dox­i­cal­ly draws peo­ple in instead of intim­i­dat­ing them into stay­ing out.

And you do that not only by learn­ing from your own mis­takes, but from those of oth­ers. Mis­takes are repeat­able, suc­cess­es are not. In fact the word “rep­e­ti­tion” itself is an antonym of suc­cess. Steve Jobs knew that, and I know that because of him.

And one more thing: Steve, you’ll be dear­ly missed.

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