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Walt Mossberg’s article on Steve Jobs’ legacy is a reminder of what Apple accomplished under Jobs’ leadership. Others have commented on the secret to Jobs’ success (see Clay Christensen in Reuters) but after the roll that Apple has been on, I don’t know that I agree with Christensen’s assessment that the focus on profitability (or lack of that focus) was the key to Apple’s success. You can read further refutation of Christensen’s points here in a very nice argument.
I think the keys to Apple and Jobs’ success were the following:

  • extraordinary vision – the vision of tying iPods to iTunes and then extending iTunes to being the distribution mechanism for all things digital. But that vision wasn’t just at the level of far reaching distribution mechanisms. Mossberg also points out that decisions even at the hardware level – such as getting rid of removable batteries – were visionary in their own right.
  • relentless attention to product perfection. The products that Apple created are stylish, well built throughout with amazing attention to the elements that go into great design. Apple apps (clock, mail, etc) are just as carefully designed as the iPhone itself. And the
    relentless attention extends to quality. The OS is more reliable. The body is my MacBook is more reliable. Solid state drives that started in the AirBook and now will make their way to more and more places. Want to read more on this aspect of vision: read this.
  • relentless attention to the customers. Despite intuitive design and relentless quality, systems still fail. And when things fail the company goes to great measures to fix the problems. Mossberg wisely points out that people often ignore the Apple retail chain as a key element of Job’s legacy. But how central it is. Anytime you have a problem with Apple products there is absolutely one place you know you can go to get it addressed. Try that with any other electronic product brought through the BestBuys or Amazons of the world. They fix, repair, replace, and sell, all from an incredibly helpful and enthusiastic staff. Visit any Apple store and you can see the results – is there another retail chain in any segment of any industry that has as much buzz, and as many people buzzing, as an Apple retail store? I think not. They sell you great products, but they have very physically made the statement that they stand by their products, creating a virtuous circle that will only grow.

Two other great articles that sum of the enormity of the Jobs/Apple turnaround are here and here. The articles both trace the return of Jobs with only 3 months cash left in the bank, and how things went from there.
But probably is the most enduring legacy right now is the business that Rocket Farm is in. We make apps. 3 years ago there was no such notion. Some quick stats on what’s happened since Apple introduced the iPhone and then expanded on the iTunes distribution network to bring the app market to life.
Some quick stats:
– the app market is expected to be $35 billion market by 2015 (Source: Forbes)
– 450,000 apps in the Apple marketplace, 250k plus apps in Android market
– 50 billion overall app downloads expected in 2012 (Source: Chetan Sharma Consulting)
Mobile changes everything. New platform. New way of users experiencing the world around them. And, as the Carpenter’s so ably said, “we’ve on just begun …” Go ahead, watch it – I dare you to get through the whole thing.

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