Apple is the biggest tech company in the world, worth at least $100 billion more than either Microsoft or Google. Apple has over 350 million active users. Within a few short years, I suspect a billion people will be using Apple computers every single day.
How did this happen? Thus: Steve Jobs proved us all wrong.
In so many ways, ways we now take for granted, ways that Google and Microsoft are rapidly trying to copy, it was Jobs who showed us the way — even as we all were convinced of his wrongness. Jobs proved us wrong not just on technical matters, but on profound aspects of both technology and business.
A few examples of Steve Jobs proving us all wrong:
- Building a global retail chain
- Requiring customers to pay for content
- Demanding high-margins for hardware
- Choosing margin share over market share
- Emphasizing design over commoditization
- Building a touchscreen-only line of computers
- Banishing pornography
All of these were business decisions that went against the accepted order. All were correct.
In this same way, Jobs taught us — for we did not initially believe — that:
- The big money resides at the top of the pyramid
- Walled gardens and well-controlled APIs are the future of the web
- Existing standards and popular features are of almost no consequence
- There is more money in consumer computing than the enterprise
- Set prices, clearly stated, benefit buyer and seller
- The web — websites, web pages, web standards — is less important than apps
- More users, more developers, more content providers directly benefit from a closed ecosystem than an open one
And here we are today, following decades of Jobs wandering the wilderness, steadfastly implementing the many and varied pieces of his mad grand vision.
Steve Jobs was not rational. His vision of the future was not dependent upon existing products, existing form factors, partners, developers, nor the established wisdom.
I lived through the years when Microsoft absolutely controlled the direction of personal computing. I was there for the rise of Google — and its destruction of the value of content and user privacy. I would not have dared believe that the radical visions of Steve Jobs would so thoroughly flourish in this world. It’s all so profoundly non-rational.
Steve Jobs was firm in his vision, proudly revolutionary, shrewd enough to avoid the trappings of both success and failure, and fully prepared to prove all of us completely wrong, no matter how long it took.
I am sorry for ever having doubted him.