The following is an excerpt from the 1997 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference. An hour long Q & A, it includes nuggets of brilliance that still are true 17 years later. Special thanks to mactechlab for posting it to YouTube, and to Semil for sharing the video. Watch the full talk here.
When you think about focusing, you think focusing is saying yes. Focusing is about saying no. Focusing is about saying no. You’ve got to say no, no, no. And when you say no, you piss off people.
The result of that focus is really great products. Where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.
I’m sure a lot of you have had this experience - where you’re changing and growing as a person. And people tend to treat you like you were 18 months ago, and it’s really frustrating sometimes. When you’re growing up and becoming more capable, you’ve had some personality quirks you’ve gotten over - whatever it may be.
And people still treat you like you were a year or 18 months ago. It can be very frustrating. It’s the same with a company. It’s the same with the press.
The press is going to have a lag time. The best thing we can do about the press is to embrace them and educate them about the strategy. But keep our eye on the prize. And that’s putting out great products, communicating with our customers the best we can, getting the community of people who are going to make this stuff successful, like yourselves, in the loop so you know everything. And marching forward one foot in front of the other. The press will take of itself.
The day we started Apple Computer, IBM was far more powerful in the computer industry than Microsoft and Intel are today. Because they not only controlled the technologies, they controlled the customer. They had direct contact with the customer.
So, we should of just given up. I should of just nudged Woz, and said forget it. We don’t have a chance. But we were too stupid to know that. We hadn’t gone to business school. We didn’t even know what the Wall Street Journal was, I’d had never even seen a Wall Street Journal. And that served us well.
Every good product I’ve seen in this industry is because a group of people cared deeply about making something wonderful that they and their friends wanted. You know? They wanted to use it themselves. That’s how the Apple I came about, the Apple II came about, the Macintosh - that’s how everything I know that’s good has come about.
It didn’t come about because people were trembling in the corner worried about some big company stomping on them. Because if a big company made the product that was right, most of these things wouldn’t of happened.
If Woz and I could of went down and plunked $2,000 bucks and bought an Apple II, why would we have built one? We weren’t trying to start a company, we were trying to get a computer.
The way you get programmer productivity is not by increasing the lines of code per programmer per day. That doesn’t work. The way you get programmer productivity is by eliminating the lines of code you have to write.
Marketing is a subjective thing. It’s not a science. There is a lot of art to it. My personal belief is that the medium really does communicate a lot about the message. In some cases, the medium overrides the message.
One of the things I’ve as found is that you have got to start with the customer experience and work backwards with the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you’re going to sell it.
I’ve made this mistake probably more than anyone else in this room. And I’ve got the scar tissue to prove it.
The higher order bit for me is connectivity. What I want is this little thing that I carry around with me. It’s got a keyboard on it, because if you do email - you need a keyboard. And you need to be connected to the net.
So if somebody would just make a little thing, where you’re connected to the net at all times - I’d love to buy one. But I don’t see one of those out there.
We all see one out there today.