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On Steve

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Walt Mossberg remembers the Steve he knew. Great to see Walt’s respect for the privacy of their conversations.

A gracious and sincere note from Bill Gates. I have had my misgiving in the past about the scorched-earth policies of Bill from the MS days but I am beginning to like the post-MS Bill — Bill 2.0 if you will — a lot more.

Stephen Wolfram’s fond remembrances of his meetings with Steve Jobs. Guess where Mathematica got its name from?

An incisive piece by Philip Delves Broughton on how Jobs made Apple fit for the future.

Apple is not really one company, but three very different organisations lashed together and devastatingly fit for purpose.

A rather tasteless comment by Richard Stallman. If there ever was an example of how not to say something about someone that just died then this is it. There are just about a million other ways in which Stallman could have expressed his difference in opinion. I’d like to believe that it’s poor choice of words and not thoughts

A thoughtful post by John — who worked for Apple in the 90s — about the complex reaction that Steve provoked in him. Steve was a complicated individual and a quite a few including John find some aspects of his operational and managerial style troubling. Nonetheless there is a lot to admire, learn and imbibe from a life well-lived.  John’s post includes a classic Steve quote when he was asked to respond to Michael Dell’s suggestion that Apple shut down and return cash to shareholders.

Another interesting FT article by Philip Delves Broughton that captures the author’s ambivalence towards Steve and explores the inscrutability of both Apple and Steve.

Christopher Bonanos on the man who inspired Steve Jobs. Is it any surprise that it is hard to distinguish who said these words (Jobs or Land).

“Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.”

“The bottom line is in heaven.”

Guy Kawasaki who had the good fortune to work closely with Jobs describes what he learned from Steve. Includes this gem about market research and focus groups at Apple.

The Apple focus group was the right hemisphere of Steve’s brain talking to the left one.

Please read the whole thing.

One of my favorite blogs, The Monday Note had two interesting posts, one from Frederic Filloux and the other from Jean-Louis Gassee. Filloux captures what one can learn from Steve’s handling of Apple. What really stands out to me are two attributes: focus (#1) and Apple’s handling of money (#6) on Filloux’s list. These two are kind of related. IMHO these two characteristics differentiate Apple from the rest of the pack. Having the discipline to focus on only a few things and resisting the temptation to deploy that huge arsenal of cash on things such as acquisitions is no non-trivial challenge. Very few companies if any can pull that off. Neither is the willingness to spend whatever it takes to ensure that the chosen products are perfect. It is no coincidence that there are no committees at Apple. It will be interesting to see if Apple the organization continues to have the courage to make these kind of decisions without an all-powerful founding-CEO at the top. Robert Sutton at Work Matters had an interesting post a few weeks ago on signs to watch out for at Apple.

As Gassee says Steve’s genius was that he understood that computers and computing devices needed to act like extensions of the human mind and body in a way that few others even to this day understand. The machine had to be humanized before humans could fall in love with it. Every Apple product is designed to produce an emotional reaction and connection. That’s why there are so many in the cult of Apple. As Nicholson Baker in the New Yorker says the grand piano has left and will be sorely missed.

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Written by Varma Chanderraju

October 10, 2011 at 5:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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