Not Good Enough

Dave Morin:

It’s about master craftsmanship – being an expert at your craft. Being the best at something. One of the things I always loved the most about Apple was that everyone was trying as hard as they could to be the best at what they do, and pushing each other. We were never afraid to say, “This isn’t good enough.” Even down to the very last moment.

One example: the first iPhone originally had a plastic front face, which was replaced by a glass front face, last minute.

The Auteur Theory of Design

John Gruber:

The quality of any collaborative creative endeavor tends to approach the level of taste of whoever is in charge.

Steve Job’s level of taste is stratospheric. We experience this in the quality of Apple’s products. To get an idea of what the quality of future Apple products might be, we’ll need to ponder this question: what is Tim Cook’s level of taste?

Apple Mind Map

When I look at this org chart, I feel as if I’m peering inside a brain. Apple’s brain. Obviously it’s not up to date: Steve Jobs is no longer CEO but is chairman of the board and Apple employee, Tim Cook is CEO, and Ronald Johnson left his post for a job at JC Penny. But the visual interconnected synapses are useful in understanding how Apple is organized. Now if we could animate this mind map over time…

Iris Tablet

Yanko Design:

For instance the Iris Tablet PC is a transparent touchpad with an OLED display. It uses wireless charging technology, can scan documents, translates texts and can work as an efficient navigator.

Let’s push the concept a bit: the transparent display acts as both viewfinder and image sensor. Designed by Liu-Wei, Yao Kai-Chi, Hong Ruei Hong, and Cheng Ya-Fang.

Icon Ambulance

Voicemail: Vic, can you call me at home? I have something urgent to discuss.

Vic: Hey Steve – this is Vic. I’m sorry I didn’t answer your call earlier. I was in religious services, and the caller ID said unknown, so I didn’t pick up.

Steve: Vic, unless the Caller ID said ‘GOD’, you should never pick up during services.

Nervous laughter.

Steve: So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I’ve already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow.

Hop on over to Vic Gundotra’s post to find out what the urgent issue was about.

The Apple Lesson

Apple Special Event, March 2, 2011, Steve Jobs (1:08:40) after introducing the iPad 2:

So, I’ve said this before. I thought it was worth repeating. It’s in Apple’s DNA. That technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.

And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices. And a lot of folks in this tablet market are rushing in, and they’re looking at this as the next PC. Hardware and software are done by different companies. And they’re talking about speeds and feeds, just like they did with PCs. And our experience in every bone in our bodies says that that is not the right the approach to this. That these are post-PC devices that need to be even easier to use than a PC. That need to be even more intuitive than a PC. And where the software and the hardware and the applications need to intertwine in an even more seamless way than they do on a PC.

And we think we’re on the right track with this. We think we have the right architecture, not just in silicon, but in the organization to build these kinds of products. And so I think we stand a pretty good chance of being pretty competitive in this market. And I hope that what you’ve seen today gives you a good feel for that.

Horace Dediu:

This is where Jobs’ quote above strikes me as valuable. The lesson the world should take from Apple is that a company needs to become multi-dimensional. It needs to mix the core business with the disruptive innovation. It needs to combine the intellectual with the artistic. It needs to maintain within it the rational and the lunatic.

That sounds nice and all, but I don’t think Steve Jobs would put it that way. What I hear over and over again from him, from when he introduced the original Mac to the most recent keynote, is that Apple is focused on building the best thing it can build. It’s as simple as that.

Playboy, 1985:

We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.

I wouldn’t call it multi-dimensional; it’s single-dimensional, meaning: all Apple wants to do is build the best stuff it can. Singular. Focused. When you want to build the best phone, you can’t just build the hardware. You need to build a lean but high performance operating system. And then you need awesome software. This isn’t multi-dimensional; this is so Apple can build the best phone. That’s it.

NBC Nightly News, 2006:

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

Mix the core business with disruptive innovation. What does this even mean? Apple’s core business is about building great stuff. Great stuff naturally tend to be disruptive. But how in the world would a company try to mix its core business with disruptive innovation? Those two are not ideologically separate things you mix. What Apples does is what Steve Jobs said in the above quote: figure out what’s next. When Apple conceptualizes a product and starts to bring that dream into reality, the people involved are not thinking along the lines of disruptive innovation. No. They’re simply doing everything they know how to do to transform the concept into reality, a brilliant reality. It’s called not dwelling on pretty good stuff for too long and getting going on the next great thing.

Combine the intellectual with the artistic? What truly intellectual thing isn’t beautiful? What truly beautiful thing isn’t intellectual? You might think I’m just playing with words, but just look at the world. Look at all the beautiful stuff. There is design intelligence. You can’t separate the two. It is an all together different thing when you’re trying to combine the intellectual and the artistic. In the process of building stuff a company doesn’t combine the intellect and the artistic. Apple doesn’t do that. When Apple strives do build the best stuff it can, art and intellect become fused. This isn’t something Apple does, it is part of the building process toward the very best stuff.

The Wall Street Journal, 1993:

Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done somethings wonderful, that’s what matters to me.

The rational and the lunatic? This doesn’t make sense at all. I might sound like a broken record, but I’m just reiterating what Steve Jobs have been saying all along. In the quest to build the very best stuff, as it progresses in the transformation of an incredibly fantastic idea to awesome reality, all this stuff about rational or lunatic… these things don’t matter. When the vision and the pure determination to make that into a reality burns through your brain, your heart, your soul, everything else doesn’t matter but this: making the very best stuff you can. Apple doesn’t give a shit whether it’s rational or lunatic.

Let me say it one more time: Apple is in the business of building the best stuff it can. That’s it, no more, no less.

Tim Cooks Internal Email to Apple

Tim Cook assures Apple will remain the same, via Ars Technica:


I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Joining Apple was the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Apple and Steve for over 13 years. I share Steve’s optimism for Apple’s bright future.

Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees. We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.

I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.

I love Apple and I am looking forward to diving into my new role. All of the incredible support from the Board, the executive team and many of you has been inspiring. I am confident our best years lie ahead of us and that together we will continue to make Apple the magical place that it is.


If Steve Jobs has successful transferred himself into the culture of Apple, with his executives reinforcing his beliefs and vision, then we should expect Apple to remain the same for the time being.

Steve Jobs Resigns, Tim Cook CEO

Letter from Steve Jobs, via The Wall Street Journal:

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:

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.

I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

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.

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.


… why does an individual whom I’ve never met have such a powerful influence. My spirit is dampened. “Dear God, please bless Steve Jobs. Amen.”