Four Business Tips From Apple & Steve Jobs

51 Comments

This morning, Apple hosted a press event which included a 45-minute Q&A session with CEO Steve Jobs. (Watch the video.) Jobs, who returned from a vacation in Hawaii to host this conference, was pretty open (i.e. he was spinning a little less and was fractionally more candid.) During the conversation with reporters, Jobs shared some interesting observations and anecdotes about Apple, his relationship with customers and of course the iPhone 4 debacle. When looking over my notes I saw some nuggets of wisdom which I feel are universal, regardless of how you may feel about Apple, Jobs and the company’s response to the iPhone 4 debacle. I have edited and clumped together some of Jobs’s responses for ease of reading.

Jobs on Solving Hard Problems

The best ideas win here at Apple. We have healthy debates in this company. We debate how to tie shoe laces and we even debate about what great is. We’re an engineering company, we think like engineers and scientists, and we think it’s the right way to solve real, hard problems. ??We try to have our cake and eat it too, we try to have great design and great performance. If you look at our products, that’s what we deliver.? We are working really hard and we can’t run really faster. There are cars in the parking lots at all hours, people have cots in the office.

Lesson #1: Hard problems are solved by hard work and no compromises.

Jobs on Software & Apple’s Edge

When someone owns a primary technology and you use it, they are eventually going to beat you on it. In the computer business, we quickly realized that we didn’t have to make processors and hard drives. Instead it was the software that was the most important thing. We are pretty good at making software for iPods, PCS and the cloud and making them work together.

And while others like Palm pioneered, we knew software was the primary technology for the phone business. We brought that software to the phone business in a way we’d never seen before.?? One of the things we did was make the process of updating your software an order of magnitude easier than it was before. We can frictionlessly distribute those updates… everybody’s copying Apple now, but we’re the first to do that in a practical way.

Lesson #2: Knowing your core competence and building on it is key to success.

Jobs on Customers

We care about every user and we are not going to stop till every customer is happy.? When you love your customers, nothing is off the table. But we want to be data driven. ?There are some things we know that we did learn here. One thing is how much we love our customers and how we are going to take care of them. And when we succeed users reward us by staying our users. That is what drives us. When people are criticizing us, we take it very personally. When users have a problem, it is our problem.

We were stunned and upset and embarrassed by the Consumer Reports stuff, and the reason we didn’t say more is because we didn’t know enough. If we’d have done this event a week and a half ago, we wouldn’t have had half the data we have today.? We take care of our customers. We appreciate them and we don’t take them for granted. I get a lot of email, and my address is out there. I can’t reply to all of these emails but I reply to some because they’re our customers, and I want to communicate with them.

Lesson#3: Regardless of your business, it is always has been, and will always be, about happiness of the customers.

Jobs on Investors

There are some customers who are happy. There are some customers who are not happy. And I apologize to them and we try and make them happy. We want investors who are in it for the long haul and are for the character of the company, not investors who just saw some news cross the wire and invested in the stock. (This was in response to a question regarding if he would apologize to investors who lost money as the stock declined.)

Lesson #4: Paying attention to short-term thinking (and thinkers) is only going to keep you relevant for a short time.

51 Comments

zul

These are great ideologies for companies to follow. I know that some people will jump on Apple and call them a bluff and that they’re still evil, and this is just talking the talk.

From the live event, it was interested how one of the guys pointed out the antenna problem. They can’t just “put a band-aid on” and provide a temporary fix. The issue is larger than.

While giving away the cases is cool and all, it’s good to know they’re still working their asses off on REALLY fixing the issue in future iPhone models.

Ryan

Look I’m a windows and linux server tech and a droid phone user and lover. That being said apple is a great company that offers great products for the market they target. Are they going to take down RIM or Oracle in the business realm I believe not because apple has not targeted that market so don’t fool yourselves in thinking that apple is going to fail in its market of choice any more than any peopleof its competition. lighten up people if you don’t like the iphone or mac computers then don’t buy them if you like them then rock on and enjoy them the point is their is a plethora of digital goodies to be had all have issues IE my battery cover falls off my droid but I still use and love it. Peace my friends

Sanjay Maharaj

All things he is saying makes sense and that is how great companies are built if you look around at great companies in any industry.
That is why Apple is where it is today, they are focussed, ficussed and focussed on deliverying great produts, great user experience and an innovative ideas. Sure they will have glitches here and there but on th eoverall schmes of thigns, I blieve Apple is truly a great company.
Let their earnings report out this or next week do the talking for them. I hope they blow the numbers once again

Shane

Tim. Get real on that old lazy ‘Macs are around 10 percent of the desktop argument’. So what? No one desktop manufacturer has a monopoly – the two largest are HP and Dell with approx. 25% each of the US Market. They chose to use the same operating system but big deal. Apple are the 4th largest desktop manufacturer in the US. Come up with something a little more original to throw at Apple. And yes, I have a Mac but have a Nokia mobile so don’t throw fanboy at me.

Zatz

“Hard problems are solved by hard work and no compromises.”

Except… they haven’t actually solved the iPhone 4 antenna placement issue and giving out free cases is a compromise. Hm. (:

Martynas Å pokas

I think that a lot of people trying to share bad news about Apple and do that PR trick. Apple keeps changing the industry standards and this means that a lot of safe and big companies have to change and become more better. The main advantage of iPhone is their AppStore fully charged of easy-to-use apps, no one on the market can offer this.

M.L.

The world is a better place because Apple Inc exists. When problems do arise for the company, we should be at our most supportive, not critical. Apple is offering free cases, and that is a terrific gesture, but I think we (Apple supporters) should NOT take them and those of you (including me, I have purchased 5 cases for me and friends) who have already purchased cases, should NOT go asking for money back. Now, is a chance to really show support for possibly the greatest company in the world, and not be petty and complain over issues that are not that huge.

Props2Apple

I still cannot believe that Mr. Jobs abruptly left a long planned super vacation in Hawaii to rectify consumer issue with a single product of his vast corporation. This just shows you how much he cares. Seriously, how many CEOs these days would do this, I say few if any since most CEOs of American corporation only care about themselves and short-term profits, they don’t give a damn about their customers, really! The record shows that CEOs caused most of the economic problems we find ourselves in. Way too many CEOs are unaccountable to their board, systematically run their companies into the ground and then get to walk away scott-free with wads of cash($$$). Something is seriously wrong with Corporate America and it start at the top. Luckily Steve and Apple are a different breed of cat thank goodness.

All this Antenna-Gate stuff should be long forgotten with new updated models with advanced attenae design hitting the streets in time for the holidays this fall. Remember that LTE requires completely different antenna solution.

Apple is still transitioning (aka learning) from a Computer Engineering company to a Consumer Electronics company. This transition (and corporate name change) only took place this last decade so Apple is still adapting to the consumer-driven marketplace and should only get better as time progresses. Consumers vote with their pocketbooks as to who has the best technology and so far Apple is winning this vote and as a result has become the largest technology company in the world (yep, even bigger than Microsoft). With Steve in charge look for even better things to come (maybe a smaller iPad, several new iPhones and awesome new software with some secret sauce thrown in the mix).
Good Times ahead everybody. Glad to see everyone is still onboard the Apple train as they go forward. See you in the next update cycle.

apetra

Gaaak! That was a load of spin with a tablespoon of salt and not a hint of sugar.

Johnny A

Mr. Jobs is truly a genius of the highest order. Easily the smartest guy in the room at all times. What more can you say. Deep down inside I bet he is very happy that Apple is now bigger than his previous arch-rival and the definition of evil empire aka Microsoft. Yes Steve you finally kicked Microsoft butt big time. Enjoy these your finest year yet and hoping for more Apple goodness in the future. CEO of the world’s largest technology company. You are the man.

Patrick

What completely blows my mind is the very simple fact that Apple has, from the start of this whole fiasco, said: “If you’re not happy with your phone, bring it back for a FULL refund.”

I love my iPhone4…. my wife loves hers. Can I make the signal drop by holding a certain way? Yep. Do I care? Not a bit. It’s got issues, but so do all the other phones on the market. And guess what? THEY ALWAYS WILL. I’ve owned Palms, HTCs, BlackBerrys, and Motorolas… and all the iPhones. I’ll still take an iPhone over anything on the market today (but PLEASE get the HELL away from AT&T!!!).

The Apple haters have latched onto this flaw like leeches. Jobs could’ve gotten out there and said “Bring in your iPhone4 for a free replacement” and people STILL would have found an issue with it.

Bottom line is that, if you don’t want an iPhone, DON’T GET ONE. Not happy with your iPhone? GET YOUR MONEY BACK. Otherwise, STFU and let us enjoy ours.

liamke

Apple has now a small problem and a big problem. The small problem is that .5% of the phone calls drop. The big problem is that in the mind of the consumer there is the “big antenna issue”. Next time some Microsoft product will have a problem, Ballmer will say: “Hey, our antenna has a small problem”, and everybody will know what is he talking about.

Tony

Good thing that the combined assault by every consumer electronics company (including Samsung, Creative, Sony, Microsoft, and every Chinese copycat maker in the world) killed Apple’s iPod business. Oops, I forgot, Apple has had record profits every quarter for the last 3 years and is still selling more iPods than its competitors together can muster (and is making more profit). Good thing there’s no market for tablet computers. Ooops, sorry, Apple has already sold 5 million tablets. Nokia sells 10 times more phones than Apple, Blackberry sells many more phones than Apple. Ooops, Apple makes more profit from the “few” phones it sells than Nokia makes from the zillions of phones Nokia & RIM sell (not to mention Motorola, Palm, Sony Ericsson, etc. which have finally stopped losing money). Last time I checked, companies are in the business of making profits not coming up with the most super insanely advanced products that people return because they don’t know how to root their phone or transfer music from their computer.

Tim

Good thing that the combined assault by every consumer electronics company with a stake in Android is growing Android sales significantly. Android phones, available on a variety of devices and on multiple carriers, are collectively outselling Apple’s iPhone in the US, since smartphones are combining functions that before were done by separate devices, such as cameras and portable audio players. There are actual declines in shipments of portable audio players. Oops, Apple profits are tied mostly to the sales of its hardware, including the iPod. That can’t be good for the Apple stock bubble.

Good thing companies are taking time in coming out with really insanely great Android tablets, since Apple’s overhype, overprice offering is clearly inferior. Without multitasking, without Flash which inhibits it from accessing the full web, it can’t figure out for itself if its a MaxiPad or a Macbook Nano. Ooops, so even if Apple fanbois keep buying whatever Steve Jobs dangle in front of them, but really? Apple has only sold, 5 million tablets? You would think that the 10% of the desktop market that own Macs, they would be throwing these Macs out the windows- since to Steve Jobs the future is mobile, running out the door to get the Apple tablet- if you’re an Apple fanboi, you better have done that already, but if not, oh no. That can’t be good for the Apple stock bubble.

Ooops, and really a very very sad oops is that the usual wealthy Apple crowd have money to just burn on elitist devices. But hey, if they keep filling Steve Jobs pocket for his overhype, overprice, inferior products, it’s their money. But that the iPhone is a niche mobile phone, that can’t be good for the Apple stock bubble.

Sucka...

Will somebody please douse this troll in rubbing alcohol and set him on fire?

Angelo A.

I think Apple will be fine. The issue with the antenna is minor. I have several family members that use the iphone 4 and they did notice the bars dropping…but have not really lost calls.

To say one OS or phone company is better than the other is and should not be based on WHO sells more, or if they had a hiccup in a new product….it should be based on your experience with the device and how it relates to YOUR needs. There are those who love apple products, and those who love RIM, HTC, Motorola,…etc.

When I look at a device, I think about what are my needs. I want a PHONE that can make calls, play music and get me on the internet. Now there are a thousand phones that meet that need. So now I look to the carriers. Who has the better coverage…not in the country..but in my area. Right now Verizon wins out. The price might not be that great, but Sprint and AT&T have dropped calls in my area. Now I didn’t just read that or heard it from someone…I’ve had first hand experience. I’ve been using Verizon now for about 4 years and have only lost 2 calls. So I’m sticking with them and I’ll look for a new phone soon. I don’t buy because some one tells me the iPhone rules and or you need to buy a Android device…..your simple minded if you keep thinking that.

Choose what device you want to use because you really like it and will not want to throw it against the wall after a days use.

Kids Virtual Worlds

Visibility draws criticism. It’s true that every phone has the same problem. But Apple and the iphone are so highly visible due to the great products they are that people need to find new things to say about them.

Mary Baum

The iPhone 4 antenna issue is a minor blip. It’s true that having Android phones available on multiple carriers will mean incrementally more phones in the market for them – in the US, anyway.

But in April, Apple invented an entirely new industry with the iPad – that I believe will change big parts of society in ways we only dimly perceive now.

Will there be Android tablets that overwhelm the iPad?

Certainly there will be Android tablets. But I don’t think they will overwhelm the iPad.

People are starting to get used to things that work elegantly and beautifully, and the Pad doesn’t necessarily rely on cellular data networks. In fact, some of its killer apps may be partly or completely network-independent – think education, not only in schools but in healthcare and corporate training.

Richie

I agree with you about the iPad! It’s another revolution. The possible uses for this thing are only just getting started.

Sneagan

Yes indeed!! The iPad did it the way Newton wanted to. I can’t wait to see where it goes!

saumilzx

The main impact of Steve Jobs’ overall approach was that he got everyone to appreciate that reception and antenna issues are fuzzy and there is no one easy solution for all situations (comparing smartphones weakspots, showing how their labs try to simulate conditions for testing).

So now when people ask if the iPhone is like other phones- why give bumpers… it does not mean it is a flawed device. There are advantages of the bare phone, and advantages of a covered one and minuses of both… this is a domain of fuzzy thinking not categorical logic.

The good news for iPhone 4 users is they can use the phone bare when that helps reception and they can use it covered when that does better.

@saumilzx

lambrettamike

Good analysis. To put things in perspective for USA centric people. There is HUGE and unabated demand for the iPhone 4 in the wider world. For example, O2 here in the UK sells out of iPhone 4 weekly, including this week, almost as soon as the stores are stocked.

I know of people rushing by car around the UK trying to locate available iPhone 4’s at Apple Stores, O2 stores, Orange stores, Tesco’s, Vodafone stores …. you name it, people are trying to find this elusive phone WITH ALL THESE PROBLEMS. Let’s face it, Nokia, RIMM et al would love this type of problem (running out of stock), but then they all play it safe and have left their antenna’s inside the case for the last 20 years. But then, once Apple Inc. sorts out their antenna design for the iPhone 4, the others will copy. Apple are pushing the ‘bar’ (forgive the pun).

Apple Inc. are the innovator and customers love their products.

Nokia and RIMM are the incubators (keeping their antenna’s nice and warm inside the phone case); they will move from being incubators to the incinerator in this race, which is ALL ABOUT INNOVATION.

Vikram Singh

I think you missed the most lesson about running your business after today’s press conference –

Lesson #0 Never compare your product with competitor’s products when you can when all you to prove is that your product is not better than them.

Today Apple lost some credibility, you can’t claim you have the BEST product the human kind have ever seen and then 22 later say … actually it is not better or worse than our competitors.

liamke

Yes, this is the most important lesson. By far. Apple has lost his aura of perfection.

AK

And that’s the price to pay when you’re no longer a niche player…

Lava

Oh please. Talk about grandstanding.

In most cases, the only people I see calling anyone stupid are people like yourselves telling us happy and satisfied iPhone users we are too stupid to decide for ourselves. I think more of us are insulted by people like you trying to tell us what’s good for us.

Brian S Hall

To be fair, I didn’t call all iPhone users stupid. Just you.

My comment was all of about 50 words. It appears you didn’t read any of them. Not a one. If you are as happy and satisfied as you claim, good for you, although you sure have a lot of hostility built up.

Tim

I wouldn’t take too seriously advice from Steve Jobs, whose Macs are around 10 percent of the desktop market, and whose iPhone never passed Blackberry in the US, and the iPhone is going to get buried soon by Android. The Apple stock bubble is deflating.

Lava

Jealous much, Tim?

You keep on saying Apple is going to fall, stock is going to fall. Well, then what do you say about Google’s 30+ point decline today? According to your logic, Android must be failing because of the massive decline in Google’s stock price.

Wise up. Apple’s been growing 50% per year for like the last 4 or 5 years, which is faster than Google. You should take the time to learn what that means.

eideard

Funnier than ever.

So, let me know where I can get more Apple stock at $89. Because that’s what I paid when I calculated we were at the bottom of the Bush recession.

Tim

a little lesson for you Apple stock fanbois: Apple stock inflates on iPhone mania- that iPhone will eventually top Symbian as the most popular smartphone OS on the planet. The inevitable horror to Steve “you’re holding the wrong way” Jobs fanbios: combined Android assault by Google, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, hordes of Chinese Androids, etc. on the iPhone. Apple stock comes down to earth as iPhone gets relegated to some minor niche in mobile, just like Macs are in desktop. By the way again, Steve, how really is your health?

89? hey, you said it, not me

eideard

Dude, you’re as ignorant about the Market as you are about the marketplace.

Any significant Market position should always be protected by a stop loss order. Though in the case of Apple, that’s significantly higher than it would be in the case of, say, Microsoft.

I know you’ll have to Google it to find out what it means – but, I passed the point quite a while back where I’m playing with House Money on Apple.

Tony

Good thing that the combined assault by every consumer electronics company (including Samsung, Creative, Sony, Microsoft, and Chinese copycat maker in the world) killed Apple’s iPod business. Oops, I forgot, Apple has had record profits every quarter for the last 3 years and is still selling more iPods than its competitors together can muster (and is making more profit). Good thing there’s no market for tablet computers. Ooops, sorry, Apple has already sold 5 million tablets. Nokia sells 10 times more phones than Apple, Blackberry sells many more phones than Apple. Ooops, Apple makes more profit from the “few” phones it sells than Nokia makes from the zillions of phones Nokia & RIM sell (not to mention Motorola, Palm, Sony Ericsson, etc. which have finally stopped losing money). Last time I checked, companies are in the business of making profits not coming up with the most super insanely advanced products that people return because they don’t know how to root their phone or transfer music from their computer.

Lava

Just keep on making a fool of yourself, Tim. Your belief that iPhone stock is “inflated” is based on a myth perpetuated by Joe Wilcox. But keep on believing it, since no amount of facts would convince you and you apparently get your jollies by living in your world of delusion.

Tim

Apple fanbois living in Steve Jobs’ walled garden perpetuate their reputation so easily

YourMomma

You poor delusional little bastard….You just keep believing the fandroid bullshit..

Daya Baran

History will record Apple being at the right time, right place and right product at the confluence of consumer mass adoption of technology and infrastructure in place to enable that adoption to take place. Others might come up with similar products but Apple is the brand name that consumers want. The company has totally reinvented itself since the release of the iPod and I see great things coming from the company going forward. Apple has a great understanding of consumer spending habits and patterns and is moving in that direction to create new products like iPad, iTV etc and the future looks good. Apple has also been making head way in the enterprise space – where departments are buying Apple products and they are getting support from the CXO level – so the potential is good. For the long term I am very bullish on Apple.

Disclosure: I own a significant amount of Apple shares.

Greg Patterson

Wow. Very slanted and ill-informed comment…

Blackberry is on life support and still resting on its Laurels. Apple will pass them in total market share soon enough. And Google like any young company is trying to do too much too fast. Even their CEO has quietly admitted this. Like it or not Jobs is a good CEO.

Have you heard of those new-fangled devices called iPods which are so engraved in everyday life people mistakenly call Zune’s, iPods. And still outsell any other like category device to this day?

I think you need to spend some time running a business before you can comment on rather or not one is or will be successful.

eideard

Customers and the marketplace will decide as usual. 99.99% of which could care less about analysts, pundits and trolls.

That has already been demonstrated by the low return rate.

My favorite chuckle was Gruber asking Jobs and the Apple crew if any of them were using a bumper or a case on their iPhone 4?

The answer was “no”. Then, Gruber said, “Me, neither!”

Har.

Lasha Krikheli

These are great ideologies for companies to follow. I know that some people will jump on Apple and call them a bluff and that they’re still evil, and this is just talking the talk.

From the live event, it was interested how one of the guys pointed out the antenna problem. They can’t just “put a band-aid on” and provide a temporary fix. The issue is larger than.

While giving away the cases is cool and all, it’s good to know they’re still working their asses off on REALLY fixing the issue in future iPhone models.

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