Steve Jobs’ secret of success
Eggs inspired late IT guru about iProduct design, functions
By Kim Jae-kyoung
Christopher Columbus and Steve Jobs. What do these two historical figures have in common? The answer may be simpler than you think: both were visionaries with unlimited creativity. Since they always tried to see beyond what was there, the same words are used to describe both heroes — genius, inventor and innovator.
Columbus opened a new chapter of the world’s history in the 15th and early 16th centuries by discovering the Americas, while Jobs, founder and former CEO of Apple, changed the lifestyle of the 21st century by introducing iProducts.
Interestingly enough, they have one more thing in common — eggs. Both drew inspiration for creativity and invention from them.
While Columbus challenged his critics to make an egg stand on its tip, Jobs challenged himself to get something out of an egg, according to Jay Elliot, former Apple executive and author of “The Steve Jobs Way.”
He indicates that Jobs received clues to the design and tactile feel of his innovative products — the iPhone, iPad and iPod. “What is the greatest product design in the world? It is an egg,” Elliot said in an exclusive interview with Business Focus in Seoul on Nov. 10.
“Steve loved eggs because holding them in his hand, the design of them was incredible, the tactile feel of it was incredible, and the way it protected the inside was incredible. It is a perfect product. So these were the models, and these were the challenges Jobs gave himself to get something out (of it for products),” he added.
The former senior vice president of operations for Apple, who visited Seoul from Nov. 8 to 11 to participate in the “Tech Plus 2011” conference here, stressed that innovation comes from design.
“When I talk about the product, I mean it’s about design. That’s real innovation. Great thing about innovation is being able to transmit technology to humans. Most engineering companies don’t get that. Even Microsoft don’t get that. They are building technology just for the sake of technology,” he said.
“What Steve tried to build was to take technology and transfer it to use of human being. That’s really what the product is about.”
When asked to describe Jobs in three words, he replied, “Number one is product, number two is passion and number three is vision. Those are the three things that Steve had that are really important.”
Leaders in his words need to be totally product oriented and totally oriented toward users, which is the major secret to Jobs’ success.
It has been nearly one and a half months since the greatest-ever technologist died following a long battle with cancer. Although he is gone, his spirit and legacy are still very among us as a lot of people carry his products.
After his death, people are busy talking about what the late IT guru left behind. Innovative products, as well as a change in the life style are cited as his key legacy.
Elliot, currently CEO of software company Nuvel said: “The biggest legacy for Steve Jobs is the product but it is about satisfying users. That is the real legacy. That is why people put flowers at his door and stores and write notes.
“That would never happen again, I believe. I know that when I die nobody is going to put flowers in front of my door. It’s the reality. I make good products but the connection (with customers) is a part of the product. That part is what Apple has lost. That would never be replaced.”
In Elliot’s eyes, there are two critical elements that set Apple apart from its rivals, including Samsung Electronics — user satisfaction and product compatibility.
“The Apple brand was built on user satisfaction, not engineering. Also since they have only one operating system across all products — the iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac, iTunes, and iCloud — users know that all of their products are compatible with each other,” he said.
“So the loyalty is built on user satisfaction and product compatibility. You always know with an Apple brand that it is superior in quality and usability, not engineering. Samsung customers get Android on their phones, Windows on their computers and sell with all the other products in stores that have mediocre service. Not true with Apple.”
Future of Apple
Following his death, there have been doubts about the future of Apple because many believe that its success has been mainly led by Jobs’ technical smarts, strategic vision and charismatic leadership.
Many agree that his showmanship on stage and his unusual knack for technology and design cannot be replaced. However, Apple is expected to continue to fare well at least in the coming years thanks to its future-oriented business model and the strength of its senior team, according to Elliot.
“There was always a two-to-three-year development pipeline at Apple so I think as a minimum there is at least a three-to-five-year window of Steve’s hand still being there,” he said.
“Also the Apple team, with Apple’s new chief executive Tim Cook and design guru Jonathan Ive, has been operating very successfully over the last three years with Steve gone most of the time. There is a great team plus a great business model that will keep going.”
Regarding the patent lawsuits between Samsung and Apple, Elliot, who has more than 30 years of operations’ experience with such corporate giants as IBM, Intel and Apple, said that there will be no winners but they will reach a compromise in the end.
“I think the patent thing is ridiculous. Samsung, Apple and Google, they are all fighting each other, all suing each other. One of the reasons Steve was very upset is that people ripped off his design,” he said.
“I do not know how you can protect them but they all started producing look-alike products. They copied the design. I believe they can figure out and get out of that because that is damaging the whole industry. It happened in the past, it’s been resolved in the past.”