The Apple Computer Co. Philosophy – 1977
In 1977 when the Apple Computer company was created they put their principles down in a one-page paper called “The Apple Marketing Philosophy”. It had 3 points. Empathy, Focus, Impute.
Empathy was about empathy with the customer: Truly understanding the needs of the end user better than any other company.
Focus was about eliminating the lots of unimportant things so as to do a good job of the important.
Impute is about having the packaging impute a sense of quality into the product when the person opens the box, because people do judge a book by the cover. Steve Jobs later said ” When you open the box of an iPhone or iPad, we want that tactile experience to set the tone for how you perceive the product” (Steve Jobs p78)
Empathy is about understanding people. Focus is about doing a few things well. Impute is about good marketing. I think Apple still do all these things exceptionally well. The iPhone 34 years later embodies this philosophy.
Steve Jobs observes from his trip to India that intuition is as powerful as rational thought, but that in the Western world we value rational thought more than we value intuition. This is exactly what Einsten said…
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein.
This is also the point Malcolm Gladwell makes in his book ‘Blink’. I read it a year ago and I think it’s the first time I really began to value the power of intuition. Our brain can subconsciously make a snap decision that is better than a conclusion we reach after hours and hours of analysis. The snap decision is actually the result of a complex process of subconscious thought that instantly weighs up things we are not even aware of. That’s intuition.
Steve Jobs observes:
The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and the intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world… Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.
Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic, it is learned and it is the great achievement of Western civilisation. In the villages of India, they never learned it. They learned something else, which is in some ways just as valuable but in other ways is not. That’s the power of intuition and experiential wisdom. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson, p48.
As I read the early chapters of Jobs biography it’s clear that he’s not the smart guy, Wozniac is. Jobs maybe has more of this ‘intuition’ though: the ability to come to a clear vision of what is needed and of how to get there. The ability to instantly perceive the value of an idea.
I started reading Steve Jobs biography last week, it’s a challenge. Steve jobs is selfish to the extreme, bordering on evil. It’s a bit like when I read my Johnny Cash biography: I found myself being repulsed by the destructiveness of a man I thought I admired. It’s so interesting I thought I might take a few posts to write my thoughts.
In his early days no one can work with Jobs. He’s rude, arrogant, and he stinks (literally – he doesn’t’ shower and refuses to admit he smells). He hangs around cult leaders taking a fair few drugs and has no problems using their tricks to manipulate the people around him, He mistreats his closest friends, his parents even his own daughter. As a student he works at Atari where they put Jobs on his own nightshift because everyone refuses to work with him. This is my point – he can get away with acting completely egotistically because people think they need him.
A classic case of his egotism is after the Apple II is launched. Scotty, whose job was to manage Steve jobs personal issues, assigns Wozniac employee badge # 1 and Jobs # 2. Here’s what happens…
Not surprisingly, jobs demanded to be #1. “I wouldn’t let him have it, because that would stretch his ego even more” said Scotty. Jobs threw a tantrum, even cried. Finally, he proposed a solution. He would have badge #0.
Maybe it’s not that Jobs is actually more selfish than the rest of us, rather Steve lets out what we are on the inside. Like House, he says what he thinks, without regard to any social conventions or thoughts for others. And he’s just such a genius that he can just throw a tantrum and get his own way and apparently get away with it. It almost makes me feel dirty using an Apple computer. He really is not the kind of guy you want as a friend. I’ll keep reading though…
“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”
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One thing I like about buying an Apple product is the “ah” moment when you open the box and get it out for the first time. That moment of admiring the design and congratulating yourself that you’ve spent your money well. Last week I had an even better moment that involved returning a Macintosh that I was unhappy with. Here is my experience with Apple. Continue reading »
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