Steve, The Perfectionist

Steve Jobs …

 The name itself has become a symbol of perfection. One other name that come into my mind when I think of Steve is Bill…Yeah, Bill gates. I happen to read an article in some magazine recently saying that there is no relationship in history like that of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. I don’t know history much but I feel that’s true. When I was reading Steve jobs biography written by Walter Isaacson, I was really impressed by the absolute perfection Steve was trying to achieve at every point of his product making. Every inch of the product should be like the way he wanted and he is willing to go to any extent to achieve the desired perfection. The credit is not Steve s alone. He got the inspiration from his father.

“Jobs remembered being impressed by his father’s focus on craftsmanship. “I thought my dad’s sense of design was pretty good,” he said, “because he knew how to build anything”

                                 Steve with his father Paul Jobs


 “When he built our fence, he gave me a hammer so I could work with him. Fifty years later the fence still surrounds the back and side yards of the house in Mountain View”.

His father loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn’t see. The same was inculcated by Steve. Steve not only was careful of the exterior design of the product but he was very much concerned about how the device looked from the inside.

Some words by Jobs friend about his products design and perfection.

“Jobs had always indulged his obsession that the unseen parts of a product should be crafted as beautifully as its façade, just as his father had taught him when they were building a fence. This too he took to extremes when he found himself unfettered at NeXT. He made sure that the screws inside the machine had expensive plating. He even insisted that the matte black finish be coated onto the inside of the cube’s case, even though only repairmen would see it.”

 “At most other companies, engineering tends to drive design. The engineers set forth their specifications and requirements, and the designers then come up with cases and shells that will accommodate them. For Jobs, the process tended to work the other way”

 And one more aspect of him that I liked a lot, is that he wants complete control over the products that he invented(I think I can use the word invented because the concept of iPod and iPad was brought by Steve). He doesn’t want everyone messing around with his products. So he completely sealed off his products, not even for changing the battery. “Apple discovered in 2011 that third-party repair shops were opening up the iPhone 4, so it replaced the tiny screws with a tamper-resistant Pentalobe screw that was impossible to open with a commercially available screwdriver. By not having a replaceable battery, it was possible to make the iPhone much thinner. For Jobs, thinner was always better. “He’s always believed that thin is beautiful,” said Tim Cook. “You can see that in all of the work. We have the thinnest notebook, the thinnest smartphone, and we made the iPad thin and then even thinner.” These are some words from the book. Some incidents that I liked from the book ….

Ice Water in Hell

Once for a joint interview, both Steve and his friend and rival Gates agreed to give a joint appearance. Jobs arrived before Gates and was being interviewed. iPod became very popular by then and Apple designed iTunes for Windows after turning down many requests for it. He was asked like what it was to be a Windows developer, since iTunes program was by then installed on hundreds of millions of Windows PCs.

He quipped: “It’s like giving a glass of ice water to someone in Hell.”

                                                              During the interview


 When Gates later arrived and heard about the comment, he was, naturally, enraged, because my partner Kara Swisher and I had assured both men that we hoped to keep the joint session on a high plane.(these people were the interviewers and in their own words).

 In a pre-interview meeting, Gates said to Jobs: “So I guess I’m the representative from Hell.” Jobs merely handed Gates a cold bottle of water he was carrying. The tension was broken, and the interview was a triumph, with both men acting like statesmen.


 When the technology strategist Lise Buyer, who was in the audience, asked what each had learned from observing the other. 

 “Well, I’d give a lot to have Steve’s taste,” Gates answered

 “The way he does things is just different and I think it’s magical. And in that case, wow.”

Jobs stared at the floor. Later he told me that he was blown away by how honest and gracious Gates had just been. Jobs was equally honest, though not quite as gracious ;-), when his turn came”


 What exactly inspired Jobs to create the iPad?

 One of the people who was building Microsoft’s tablet was friendly with Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell. He asked Jobs and Powell to come to his fiftieth birthday party. Jobs went, reluctantly, says Isaacson. At the party, the guy was telling Jobs about the Microsoft tablet and how great it was going to be. This did not go over so well. Here, in his own words, Jobs describes what happened, and what he did next:

“This guy badgered me about how Microsoft was going to completely change the world with this tablet PC software and eliminate all notebook computers, and Apple ought to license his Microsoft software. But he was doing the device all wrong. It had a stylus. As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead. This dinner was like the tenth time he talked to me about it, and I was so sick of it that I came home and said, “F**k this, let’s show him what a tablet can really be.”

Jobs says he went into Apple the next day and asked for a multi-touch tablet with no keyboard or stylus. He got one six months later. Instead of making it a tablet, though, Apple shrank it and made the iPhone.

Later on, they released the iPad.


                                                         Steve, when introducing iPad


 A fascinating insight. And hey – Microsoft still can’t manage to release a tablet that people will actually buy!


Steve’s opinion about other companies

 Rather than his opinion about other companies I would say his dissatisfaction about the entire field. These were in his own words … “I have my own theory about why decline happens at companies like IBM or Microsoft. The company does a great job, innovates and becomes a monopoly or close to it in some field, and then the quality of the product becomes less important. The company starts valuing the great salesmen, because they’re the ones who can move the needle on revenues, not the product engineers and designers. So the salespeople end up running the company”

“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.”


Jobs about Gates

 “They were very good at the business side of things. They were never as ambitious product-wise as they should have been. Bill likes to portray himself as a man of the product, but he’s really not. He’s a businessperson. Winning business was more important than making great products. He ended up the wealthiest guy around, and if that was his goal, then he achieved it. But it’s never been my goal, and I wonder, in the end, if it was his goal!”


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