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Apple VP shares four keys to company success

post #1 of 42
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Drawing from 20 years of experience at Apple, Greg Joswiak, the company's vice president of worldwide iOS product marketing, has explained four keys to the company's success: focus, simplicity, courage and a commitment to being the best.

Joswiak, who goes by "Jos," has seen his fair share of success while working at Apple, first with the iPod and then with the iPhone and iPad. Speaking at a "Silicon Valley Comes to Cambridge" event in the U.K., he shared four critical lessons from his time at the company, as noted by The Wall Street Journal:

Focus

According to Joswiak, the ability to focus relies on being able to say no to things. "We do very few things at Apple. We are $100bn in revenue with very few products. There are only so many grade A players," he said. When companies are spread out too thin over multiple products, "none of them will be great."

Joswiak appears to have learned this lesson from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. In 2008, Jobs outlined his views on the importance of focus to Fortune magazine.

"Apple is a $30 billion company, yet we've got less than 30 major products. I don't know if that's ever been done before," he said. "Certainly the great consumer electronics companies of the past had thousands of products. We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully."

Before leaving the company, Jobs went so far as to set up an internal Apple University training program that would teach his guiding principles to future generations of Apple executives and employees. Jobs was also known to share this advice with colleagues and friends.

For example, when Mark Parker became CEO of Nike, he asked Jobs for advice. "Well, just one thing, Jobs reportedly told him. Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.

Greg Joswiak at the iPhone launch in Berlin in 2007. Source: macevangelist via Flickr.

Simplicity

The second key to Apple's success is the process of making a complex thing simple, Joswiak noted. According to him, the company's products begin simple, become increasingly simple as they are built, and then are brought back to simplicity.

"A lot of people think it means take something simple and leave it at its core essence. But it isnt that. When you start to build something, it quickly becomes really complex. But that is when a lot of people stop. If you really know your product and the problems, then you can take something that is complex and then make it simple.

Simplicity is said to be one of the main tenets for innovation and sustainable success taught at Apple University. RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky sees Apple's corporate culture as being steeped in the principle as part of Jobs' legacy.

Walter Isaacson, the author of Jobs' biography, wrote that Jobs was interested in bringing simplicity to the living room. "[Jobs] wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant," Isaacson wrote. Jobs said he "cracked" the problem with "the simplest user interface you could imagine."

Courage

Joswiak also mentioned courage as one of Apple's defining traits. The Cupertino, Calif., company has in part built a name for itself for its bold business decisions, such as adopting new unproven technologies abandoning older ones ahead of its competitors.

Courage drives a lot of decisions in business," he said. "Dont hang on to ideas from the past even if they have been successful for you. You dont build a product just because everyone else has one.

Jobs himself mentioned the importance of courage in a commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005, though he was referring to a more personal application

"Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Be the best

The fourth and final guiding principle that Joswiak shared was Apple's commitment to only enter markets that it believes it can be the best in. Each of the three products currently under the executive's watch -- the iPod, iPhone and iPad, has arguably become the best in its industry.

If you cant enter the market and try and be the best in it, dont enter it. You need that differentiation. At Apple if we cant be the best then we are not interested in it, Joswiak said.

Apple executives related a similar strategy this summer when they spoke with RBC's Abramsky. As rumors that Apple would launch a low-end iPhone swirled, the analyst left the meeting with the understanding that "Apples primary criterion for launching a lower-end iPhone is an innovative, category-killer experience."
post #2 of 42
+1 Interesting!
Those four traits are pretty much Apple's salvation.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #3 of 42
And our reward for those traits? Cha ching!!!!
An Apple man since 1977
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An Apple man since 1977
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post #4 of 42
Sounds like the exact opposite of what Sculley did during his years at Apple.

Please update the AppleInsider app to function in landscape mode.

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Please update the AppleInsider app to function in landscape mode.

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post #5 of 42
sounds good to me... the only reason I frequent this site AI, its not to listen to solipsism (no offense, you tha man) or any of you other guys, its because of these Apples guiding principals that I believe in and find irresistible, i honestly believe that this is one of the greatest current examples of American innovation available to us and... uh... I'm running out of steam but... yeah that sounds good Joswiak right on dude.
post #6 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The second key to Apple's success is the process of making a complex thing simple, Joswiak noted. According to him, the company's products begin simple, become increasingly simple as they are built, and then are brought back to simplicity.

"When you start to build something, it quickly becomes really complex. But that is when a lot of people stop. If you really know your product and the problems, then you can take something that is complex and then make it simple.


Someone needs to fix that contradiction in the article. The quote from Joswiak is correct but the paraphrase that precedes it is incorrect.

Who proofreads this stuff?

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #7 of 42
Is there an overseas iPhone 4S unlocked that will work with T-mobile 3G/"4G"?

I'm asking for a friend so he can order one.
post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

Someone needs to fix that contradiction in the article. The quote from Joswiak is correct but the paraphrase that precedes it is incorrect.

Who proofreads this stuff?

Making something simple on the outside often results in complexity inside. In the larger view manufacturing something as simple as an iPod can be very complex.

It is sort of like climbing a mountain, each step might be simple but there is much complexity getting to the top. The goal is simple, take in the view from the top. Each step is also simple, but the trip up is seldom easy.
post #9 of 42
Here they need to really address the fact that they don't really have a desktop solution. They have the Mini which is too minimal and the Pro which is grossly over priced for what the average desktop users needs.
post #10 of 42
Focus: on maintaining reality distortion fields.
Simplicity: Restrict customers from upgrading their Macs.
Courage: To shamelessly overcharge people for PC components.
A commitment to being the best: Industry drama queens.

How will they manage without Steve?
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Here they need to really address the fact that they don't really have a desktop solution. They have the Mini which is too minimal and the Pro which is grossly over priced for what the average desktop users needs.


And so what about the iMac? One of the best desktop solutions for me since it's birth.
post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloodshotrollin'red View Post

Focus: on maintaining reality distortion fields.
Simplicity: Restrict customers from upgrading their Macs.
Courage: To shamelessly overcharge people for PC components.
A commitment to being the best: Industry drama queens.

How will they manage without Steve?

Don't feed the troll, don't feed...
post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Here they need to really address the fact that they don't really have a desktop solution. They have the Mini which is too minimal and the Pro which is grossly over priced for what the average desktop users needs.

oh, and the iMac doesn't fit anyones needs...
post #14 of 42
Conviction might be a good replacement for courage. The words hero and courage are overused in our society. But in business and in sports, they rarely apply, if ever.
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Conviction might be a good replacement for courage. The words hero and courage are overused in our society. But in business and in sports, they rarely apply, if ever.

Conviction is the cornerstone of courage.
post #16 of 42
It's good to finally be hearing from some of the powers behind the throne. Now we're going to start finding out how Steve set things up before before he left the planet.
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Here they need to really address the fact that they don't really have a desktop solution. They have the Mini which is too minimal and the Pro which is grossly over priced for what the average desktop users needs.

They call it the iMac. Like it or not that is their desktop solution for the average user.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"Apple is a $30 billion company, yet we've got less than 30 major products. I don't know if that's ever been done before,"


It would certainly be helpful for people to look outside their own industry. Let's see - just off the top of my head:

Boeing
Airbus
Exxon (and any of the other major oil companies which is 4 of the 5 largest companies in the world by revenues)
AT&T
Arcelor Mittal
And so on....
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It would certainly be helpful for people to look outside their own industry. Let's see - just off the top of my head:

Boeing
Airbus
Exxon (and any of the other major oil companies which is 4 of the 5 largest companies in the world by revenues)
AT&T
Arcelor Mittal
And so on....

The 30 product comparison is overly simplified. Each industry has its own business model. As far as consumer electronics companies is concerned he may have a point, but one certainly can't compare that product count to the likes of Exxon. When you refine crude oil you automatically get thousands of useful byproducts which are the building blocks of the entire chemical and synthetic material industries. How could Exxon possibly limit their product list to 30? Same with Boeing, they have commercial planes and military defense as well as aerospace. The business segments are highly interconnected. It is apples and oranges.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It would certainly be helpful for people to look outside their own industry. Let's see - just off the top of my head:

Boeing
Airbus
Exxon (and any of the other major oil companies which is 4 of the 5 largest companies in the world by revenues)
AT&T
Arcelor Mittal
And so on....

1) I see your point but I don't think it's fair to judge direct industries to a consumer product company. It's more fair to compare Apple's design of the A5 chip which they make only 1 or maybe 2 versions of.

2) You shouldn't take the comment so literally. Apple does make very few major products compared to their competitors. That's the take away.

3) I found this interesting… (Note that is only Samsung's line for the US through carriers)

»

http://www.minimallyminimal.com/jour...vs-profit.html



Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

1) I see your point but I don't think it's fair to judge direct industries to a consumer product company. It's more fair to compare Apple's design of the A5 chip which they make only 1 or maybe 2 versions of.

Of course.

The point is that if he had said that they had fewer products than other consumer electronics companies, it might have been valid (although on could point to Nintendo as an exception even there). But he said that NO other companies were as concentrated.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

1) I see your point but I don't think it's fair to judge direct industries to a consumer product company. It's more fair to compare Apple's design of the A5 chip which they make only 1 or maybe 2 versions of.

2) You shouldn't take the comment so literally. Apple does make very few major products compared to their competitors. That's the take away.

3) I found this interesting (Note that is only Samsung's line for the US through carriers)

[ nice pictures deleted ]


How about the iTunes music store? How many products does that count as?

Apple makes very little themselves; they design more and outsource the manufacture, and they sell a lot more of digital services.

What Apple did under Jobs was change from a manufacturing-centric to a services-centric operation.

Philip Machanick creator of Opinionations and Green Grahamstown
Department of Computer Science, Rhodes University, South Africa

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Philip Machanick creator of Opinionations and Green Grahamstown
Department of Computer Science, Rhodes University, South Africa

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post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Making something simple on the outside often results in complexity inside. In the larger view manufacturing something as simple as an iPod can be very complex.

It is sort of like climbing a mountain, each step might be simple but there is much complexity getting to the top. The goal is simple, take in the view from the top. Each step is also simple, but the trip up is seldom easy.

You missed the point. The paraphrase says they go from simple to simpler to simpler, whereas if you read the actual quoted text, he says they go from simple to complex to simpler.

Philip Machanick creator of Opinionations and Green Grahamstown
Department of Computer Science, Rhodes University, South Africa

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Philip Machanick creator of Opinionations and Green Grahamstown
Department of Computer Science, Rhodes University, South Africa

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post #24 of 42
Is it only me, why does it sounds like he has left Apple already from the first two paragraphs?
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by philipm View Post

How about the iTunes music store? How many products does that count as?

Apple makes very little themselves; they design more and outsource the manufacture, and they sell a lot more of digital services.

What Apple did under Jobs was change from a manufacturing-centric to a services-centric operation.

The iTunes Store would count as one major product, but in the quote I assume they are referring to physical products, not services as products.

Jobs changed a lot, but I don't think it's fair to say that moved to being services-centric. There fortune is had from HW sales. They have created a services ecosystem to tie in with their OSes that are tied to their devices. I'd say Jobs tightened that bond between SW and HW, not just with SW services, but with also pushing Apple to design more of the HW that goes into their HW products.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloodshotrollin'red View Post

How will they manage without Steve?

Shotgun approach: offer anything that somebody somewhere might buy
Complexity: allow customers to open tin-can cases to make up for--and distract from--inferior design
Temerity: keep costs low-low-low by not offering support
A commitment to being average: what's more exciting than a low price?

Because that's what everyone else does, that's how Apple will manage with the system Steve put in place.
post #27 of 42
Ah, I was just staring to enjoy this thread, when the trolls and nitpickers arrived.

Ugh. Off to something else....
post #28 of 42
They left a 5th one out - keeping your work secret. You can't stay ahead of your competitors if they know what you're working on.
post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by philipm View Post

You missed the point. The paraphrase says they go from simple to simpler to simpler, whereas if you read the actual quoted text, he says they go from simple to complex to simpler.

-oops wrong post reply-
post #30 of 42
One of the reasons that made Jobs great, amount many, was that he always wanted to be the best. Every other corporation in the world is just in it to make money. Everything else is secondary. The difference between Apple and Microsolth are legion. Apple, it just works great. Microsloth, if it works, great! A quote from the film "Robocop" is so true. Ronnie Cox's character is explaining the way things work during the fight scene at the end, "we had contracts, spare parts contracts for twenty years. Who cares if it works!"
post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Conviction might be a good replacement for courage. The words hero and courage are overused in our society. But in business and in sports, they rarely apply, if ever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

Conviction is the cornerstone of courage.

And there's always the expression, "to have the courage of your convictions." Actually, I think the nature of courage is often over-romanticized and exaggerated. Courage shows itself in all sorts of little ways in lots of people every day, as does cowardice. You don't have to be a hero to be courageous.
post #32 of 42
I agree that the Apple insights are very useful, and that solipsism is quite frequently an inspiration as well.
post #33 of 42
These various news bits that throw focus on Apple employees like Joswiak illustrate (at least to me) that people are starting to jockey for recognition at Apple. This kind of talk to the press regarding internal operations at Apple would never have been allowed under Jobs because it takes the focus off the products. These guys need to be reminded to always, always, always bring the discussions back to Apple product and let Tim Cook be the one to talk (or not talk) about Apple's internal processes and thinking. It has been obvious for some time that Apple, as a marketing and engineering consumer products company performs best under a frighteningly tyrannical, secretive dictator... and I say that in the best sense.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Here they need to really address the fact that they don't really have a desktop solution. They have the Mini which is too minimal and the Pro which is grossly over priced for what the average desktop users needs.

Come on Wizard… You're lumping desktop success by measuring its edge products. Apple main desktop product is the iMac.

As Apple's philosophy says, you need the courage to say no.

The Mac Pro, in its day when it was designed, was praised as top on the line. It's still a great piece of hardware, but the design is antiquated for the personal computer market now. Just like Windows boxes are. Apple probably will drop the Mac Pro. Many Mac Pro owners will complain, just like when Apple dropped its dedicated server line, but Apple has the courage to say no. Apple thinks the tower design has seen its day, and Apple knew it couldn't be the best it could be in the server market, so it is focusing on the consumer market.

When the Mac Mini came out, it was hailed as a great addition to the product line, but the advocates of a Apple Mini Tower are still crying for one. Just like those into Blue Ray, but again Apple has the courage to say no. Apple's answer to them [IMO] is just buy a mobile MacPro laptop it has plenty of ports for external expansion, and if you want Blue Ray there are plenty of external players out there. Apple knows that the personal computer market's future is in mobile design. Everything they've done shows us Apple's focus is on what they do the best.

There are plenty of other examples where Focus, Simplicity, Courage, and "Be the Best" in Apple's decision making, but I think I've made my point. Apple's desktop iMac is the best desktop design in the personal computer market and its success proves it. The iMac isn't Apple's focus today, iOS devices are paying the bills, but they know the need is still there for a desktop computer. The PC-free metaphor is not ready to replace the desktop, but when it is, Apple will probably have the courage to say no to the iMac too.
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloodshotrollin'red View Post

Focus: on maintaining reality distortion fields.
Simplicity: Restrict customers from upgrading their Macs.
Courage: To shamelessly overcharge people for PC components.
A commitment to being the best: Industry drama queens.

How will they manage without Steve?

My post above is my answer to this.
post #36 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

It's good to finally be hearing from some of the powers behind the throne. Now we're going to start finding out how Steve set things up before before he left the planet.

[this is off topic but I couldn't resist]

...."before he left the planet" Some would say, me included, that he is still on the planet creating great soil as fertilizer.
post #37 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

It would certainly be helpful for people to look outside their own industry. Let's see - just off the top of my head:

Boeing
Airbus
Exxon (and any of the other major oil companies which is 4 of the 5 largest companies in the world by revenues)
AT&T
Arcelor Mittal
And so on....

Why not speak to the proper context of this article, you are talking Apple versus Oranges.
post #38 of 42
The problem with a "real desktop solution" is that you're talking about generic boxes like PC's. There's nothing unique about them. Apple's solutions are always unique. i, too, would love to have a Mac Pro with a normal Core i7 processor and more standard parts, but does that mean it would be a successful product for Apple? No. Steve's original vision for the Mac was an all-in-one solution, and that's why they concentrate on the iMac. When they made more conventional boxes, Apple wasn't very successful.
post #39 of 42
Joswiak -- almost like a last name combining Jobs and Wozniak...
post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Joswiak -- almost like a last name combining Jobs and Wozniak...

Nice!

Am I the only 1 thinking that shirt has the Windows logo all over?
“A PC is no bargain when it doesn’t do what you want.” - Apple 2009
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“A PC is no bargain when it doesn’t do what you want.” - Apple 2009
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