dominik wagner

Steve's Void

The recent ousting of Scott Forstall struck me as first real post Steve Jobs job decision. That got me thinking: What is it what is really missing since Steve Jobs died? Apple is running like a good oiled machine, quick releases of solid to great hardware and software. Obviously the company is in good shape.

One obvious thing Apple lost with Scott Forstall is a keynote style different from Cook, Cue, Schiller (and Frederighi). I think Scott did manage to come as closely to Steve in terms of boldly presenting a product as anyone at Apple ever did. He is gone now and it will be interesting who is able to step up. I don't know if Jony Ive can or even wants to. The closest to Forstall I ever saw presenting on stage is Randy Ubillos, responsible for the iMovie rewrite and last seen presenting the iPhoto for iOS. However he is still far off.

However to me the biggest void is the lack of the customer perspective Steve Jobs brought to the table. He was constantly looking for solutions for every day life. The Digital Hub, iTunes, iLife, iPod, iTunes Music Store, iWork, iPhone, iPad: they all are great solutions to tasks that were hard before their inception. You could really tell that Steve had his mind set to solve and improve everyday life. Currently I don't see that drive in any of the executives at Apple. To me that drive is the essence of Apple's success: the drive to provide and sell innovative solutions to problems people have, even if big obstacles are in the way.

The music industry, telecommunication companies, media companies, adobe - none of them have their focus on the customer. Steve did, and more over, he was that customer. Apple's products excelled in the non-professional area. He owned that position and presented the case when it was needed. I don't see Tim Cook writing the open letter about Flash or DRM. None of the current executives have his proverbial Chutzpah which is so needed for that. I like nothing more to be proven wrong on this, but it is my deepest belief that this is a void left by Steve that needs to be filled by someone for Apple to stay a great company in the long run. And that someone doesn't exist yet. He or She needs to emerge, the sooner the better. Maybe Jony Ive can become this one, but my guess is that his industrial design backround is more of a hinderance than help for that.

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