via @appleinsider and @danieleran
Jobs didn’t just unveil the iPad as a new product in 2010. He talked at length during the media event, providing a deep look into Apple’s strategic thinking on the subject of tablets. It was as if Jobs were giving the industry a Xerox PARC style tour of the secret labs inside Apple. He not only revealed the next big thing that would radically change the computing landscape but also detailed exactly what was going to make it commercially successful.
To compete for relevance and fill a valuable niche between a regular PC and a phone, Jobs said iPad would need to be much simpler to use than a PC. And to stand apart as useful next to a smartphone, it would be critical to have tablet-optimized mobile apps that were more sophisticated than a phone. These ideas may seem obvious today, but were once opposed and defied by competitors and critics.
In effect Jobs had detailed the exact x:y coordinates of the sweet spot for selling tablets to consumers. Why didn’t anyone listen? In part, it was because copying Apple strategy would require enormous amounts of work and required product development skills its competitors didn’t have.
These choices would have to stand up in the face of public opposition. Media critics didn’t care about the technical details; they could just demand a brainstorm of features they recalled using on PCs without giving any thought to how these things would drive up costs and complexity and tear down performance.
Removing complexity while critics screamed about the tyranny of its omissions was something Apple had lots of experience with. …
Jobs’ anticipation of what would be successful in tablets ended up being presciently correct. Having a clear, confident, strategic vision allowed Apple to make long term plans, which included developing custom silicon optimized specifically to competently deliver that vision.
Thoughts on Flash, one of Jobs’ rare public postings, outlined that Adobe Flash was going to be a technical nightmare on mobile devices and that it would be impossible to support and maintain. Essentially, it ran against the two critical factors Jobs had earlier given for tablet success: they needed to extremely simple to stand apart from regular PCs, and need their tablet-optimized apps to be differentiated from phones.
Jobs spelled out that “Thoughts on Flash” was simply a response to the storm of criticism Adobe had been inciting in response to Apple choosing not to support Flash on iOS. Rather than trying to make enemies and fuel a battle in public, Apple had simply determined that legacy Flash compatibility wasn’t worthy of pursuing in mobile devices.
All the companies that supported Flash in dramatic defiance of Jobs—the real petty squabble playing out to the delight of the tech media—were unable to make it work. That helped give Apple a lead in tablets as well as putting Lynch to work on the next big thing: wearables.