Originally Posted by cloudgazer
Steve Jobs clearly matters enormously because it was him and his hand-built team at NeXT that rebuilt Apple. For years he has been like a top chef, checking every new dish that leaves the kitchen for quality and instilling his incredible high standards on the entire organization. There's no doubt that he continues to contribute enormously, but the failure of Apple execs who join other firms doesn't really tell us anything about how much.
And we also have to remember that Jobs failed at NeXT. And his early years at Apple weren't that great either. You definitely learn more from failure than from success. The timing, the technology, the market strategy, the design all have to be right to make a homerun product. It's really hard and Apple in all its power today still strikes out. This is true for any high performance organization.
An early technical architect made some really bad choices.
Yup! It's quite arguable that Palm (Rubenstein and has team) made a few bad decisions with the design of webOS and webOS hardware.
1. They believed that a cell phone needed a hardware-based QWERTY keyboard. In 2009, when the Pre launched, maybe there was still some doubt. By 2010, it was blindingly obvious. A software QWERTY keyboard on a slate style device is the form factor of choice. They are the halo device for basically every company. Sliders with thumb boards are niches. Palm and HP has stuck to their guns on this. I believe they will only shoot blanks until they drop the thumb board and go with a slate device.
2. The Pixi was un-necessary and diverted precious resources. It cheapened the brand and may have reduced sales of the Pre. Hp continues to make the same mistake with the Veer.
3. An all out disastrous device strategy for a company who was living quarter-to-quarter. They were always 3 to 6 months too late. The Pre was released in June. It was basically a prototype device with serious fundamental design issues with its slider mechanism and the quality of its components. It was underpowered compared to contemporary devices. In the Fall 2009 they release the Pixi. In February, they release the Pre+ with design fixes (slider, no ball home button), double the RAM and double the storage on Verizon. The Pixi+ and ATT devices followed. This is seriously wonky. The Pre+ was essentially the same device architecturally as the Pre: same everything except for a correctly built slider and more RAM and storage. Plus they maintained the Pixi and Pixi+! They could have released the prototype-like Pre in June; never spend anything on the Pixi, nothing; use those resources to release the Pre+ in November before Black Friday, and sell the old Pre for cheaper. Who knows what they are doing now with the Veer and Pre 3.
5. webOS was never polished. Awesome at demo, but had bugs and perplexing issues in real use. The software process or original architectural design is broken somewhere for a lot of things not to be cleaned up after all this time.
And I haven't even talked about advertising or carrier strategy and what not.
The disappointing thing is that after HP bought them out and Rubenstein got a second try, he basically followed the exact same thing: Pre:Pixi::Pre3:Veer, keyboard and all. The Touchpad is a clone of the iPad as much as they could make it. The basic shape, weight and feel of a tablet is fundamental to how a customer reacts to a product. But HP just went with a glossed over "riverstone" Pre-style version of the iPad 1 shape. Craziness.