Saturday, 15 October, 2011

Thank You - My Turtle Neck CEO

It was a morning that I will remember for a long time. Woke up to my tweets as any day and saw one tag occupying more than 50% of tweets, #RIPSteveJobs. Steve has made a big impact on me in the last few years. This will be my tribute to Steve including some instances where I thought he should have done it differently.
Steve Jobs was someone who kept most of the things about him in private. For someone who was well known for his stage presence, we don't have many videos of him on this digital age except for the famous Stanford speech of 2005. He told his biographer that he was doing the biography for his children to understand how much he loved them. Imagine you understanding your father through a book. So what we are left with is just perceptions about him. Many of his fans believe that his biography will come out with the message that Steve wanted to give to this world, I don't think so. He preserved details about him in private for the time he lived and he was not going to leave that to fall apart after he is gone. This big disclaimer para is because, some of his fans may not agree with some stuff mentioned here.

Steve was a great example of how your passion for work can take you to heights. I don't think he even considered his life at Apple as work. He lived through it. You can argue on how lucky he was in 2007 for the technology to improve to get a phone that can be a mini-computer. But life has been tough on him than it was easy on him. Being fired out of the company he founded, getting back into the company when it was in worst phase of its entire life and then his cancer. He fought all of them and he did come out as the most successful (i)CEO of the last few decades. Steve will always be remembered for making Personal computer & Mobiles accessible to the common person who didn't understand what programming is. Yes, he didn't sell as many Macs as PCs or as of today his iPhones don't sell as much as Androids, but both Google/Microsoft did learn a lot from Apple products. Nothing to deny on that. (Same way he has taken notes from them as well).

Thank you Steve for those perfect products.
Steve means perfection in tech world. A product from Apple may be costly, but it will be perfect based on the technology available at that time. Every Apple product was an apple with the first bite consumed by Steve. And he always wanted the best. Anything lesser than that will go to trash. I thank Steve for leaping ahead with iDevices. I do think Google/Microsoft would have done it, but he pushed everyone years ahead to come up with new technology. There are stories around Internet how hard he was on his employees. He didn't even think his customers know what they want. He did have the intuition of what will sell/what will be in need. He just saw the future as clear as we see the past. I think there would be few decisions that he regretted in his professional life. (I am not talking about his family life, as none of us will ever know how much he loved them & stories on Internet about someone's family are the last one's you should believe).

Thank you Steve for setting the standards high for entire Industry.
Steve was one person who had instincts of future. He did know to create an ecosystem that so many liked(though I have different thoughts on that ecosystem). He did Innovate on hardware/Software/iTunes/Retail model/App Ecosystem and many more. Many articles have been written on other Innovations he did, but less on the Retail outlets. Retail outlet is one for which he is credited less. But he was so bold to put Apple retail shops on towns & cities of US, with so much of risk attached to it. On hindsight it looks like the perfect move, getting those Apple products on the hands of people. It did make them realize that it just works. :)Apple didn't pay dividends for shareholders in the last decade. Apple has taken risks that would have reduced shareholder value to nothing. Steve did practice different type of capitalism where he didn't run to show quarterly results. His shareholders just have to believe him like his customers believed him. And as his customers always got a product that works, his shareholders saw their share value go up as years passed by. Apple was valued at $ 7Billion in 1998 to $ 340Billion today. That talks about the confidence of his investors on him and Apple. Steve had Eric Schmidt of Google on Apple's board even when both the companies started building capabilities in overlapping areas. So either Steve believed Eric completely not to use the info that Eric learned as board member to use against Apple or he did not even share many of his visions with the board as well.

Steve has been criticized for his lack of philanthropic activities when compared to Gates.(Though I don't buy it. Give a break. He earned every dollar of it).

Steve was a good CEO. Steve created a cult culture for digital products. Steve was good in marketing. He was known to sell things. Even though I have said above that Apple products of high standards, there are cases where Steve did hold on to a feature because of various business reasons. Apple has a closed ecosystem of apps which has hurted app developers sometimes. (Lead times/Rejections with no reasons/Censorship). I also think Apple as a company didn't help much to the entire ecosystem of digital world. In most cases, Apple either wanted to use the standard that it says or just won't support it. Flash is an example. When there were millions of pages on Flash, Steve strictly said no to Adobe flash. I am sure he had his own reasons like battery life, HTML5 is way forward and so on. But it did hurt so many flash game developers. 30% cut that he wanted on everything that is sold through iDevices just shows his business skills. He acted like a shrewd businessman in many a times than as a Innovator who brings the world the magic of his innovation. Ideally he should be the case study of Harvard Business school than of digital innovation world. To me his legacy after all the dust settles after many years will be his talent as a CEO than as a digital icon. He recruited good talent, did know how to get work done from them, had an intuition for the future, did know to market his products and did know to build a business model on top of it. Mostly they are CEO thing, not a techie thing. Hopefully you will understand that I don't add him as just another person, but he is also not someone who is like super hero. There are lot of things that he would have done in a better way. Still,

Thank you again Steve.

If you know tamil, please read on, else thanks for reading till here.. :)

ஆப்பிளின் சீனா மூலமான உழைப்புச் சுரண்டல் குறித்து ரோசாவசந்த் கீச்சுக்களை மறுடுவிட் செய்த பொழுது, "இன்று இதை பற்றி வேண்டாமே" என்று பதில் தந்தேன்.. அதை மதித்து இந்த பதிவில் அதைப்பற்றி குறிப்பிட்டு இருப்பது கண்டு மகிழ்ச்சி. நன்றி ரோசாவசந்த். அவரின் பதிவு 'நுகர்வு கலாச்சாரம்' பற்றி அற்புதமாக பேசுகிறது.

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