Apple VP shares four keys to company success

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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 isn?t 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. "Don?t hang on to ideas from the past even if they have been successful for you. You don?t 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 can?t enter the market and try and be the best in it, don?t enter it. You need that differentiation. At Apple if we can?t 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 "Apple?s primary criterion for launching a lower-end iPhone is an innovative, category-killer experience."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    +1 Interesting!

    Those four traits are pretty much Apple's salvation.
  • Reply 2 of 41
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    And our reward for those traits? Cha ching!!!!
  • Reply 3 of 41
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    Sounds like the exact opposite of what Sculley did during his years at Apple.
  • Reply 4 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    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?
  • Reply 6 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 41
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,720member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 41
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,720member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 41
    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?
  • Reply 10 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 41
    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...
  • Reply 12 of 41
    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...
  • Reply 13 of 41
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 41
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,818member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 41
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 41
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    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....
  • Reply 18 of 41
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 41
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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)








  • Reply 20 of 41
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    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.
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