New products are presented to Apple's board 6-18 months prior to launch

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Members of Apple's Board of Directors are sometimes informed about new products up to a year and a half before they are unveiled to the public, the board's chairman has revealed.

Arthur Levinson


Arthur D. Levinson, former CEO of Genentech and current chairman of Apple's board, spoke at the Stanford Graduate School of Business on Tuesday. In his comments, summarize by Fortune, he revealed that Apple's board does not usually have much input in the creation of the company's products.

Members of the board are typically presented with new Apple products 6 to 18 months before they are revealed publicly, Levinson said. He added that if a product is shown to the board with enough time before launch, sometimes the opinions of board members are taken into account with the final product.

In addition, he said if a board member has expertise in a specific area related to a product, their opinion may wield more influence. But beyond that, he said a good board will not get in the way of a company's CEO or executive team.

"The board is not there to define product specs," Levinson told the students at Stanford. "It's there as a sounding board, it's there as a resource, and ultimately, the board is there to hire and fire the CEO."

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once publicly referred to input from the board on new products when unveiling the clip-on iPod nano in 2010. In unveiling the small touchscreen device, Jobs revealed that one of the members of the Apple board planned to use it as a wristwatch.

Those plans proved prescient: A number of accessories that turned the sixth-generation iPod nano into a wristwatch would eventually hit the market, though Apple never made such an accessory itself.

Watch
The Wrist Jockey is one of many iPod nano watch bands that hit the market.


Levinson was named the chairman of the Apple Board of Directors in November of 2011, following the passing of company co-founder Steve Jobs. Levinson has served as co-lead director on Apple's board since 2005, and has served on three board committees ? audit and finance; nominating and corporate governance; and compensation.

In addition to serving on Apple's board, Levinson is also chairman of Genentech., Inc., a biotech firm he led as chief executive from 1995 to 2009. He's also a member of the board of directors at pharmaceutical firm Roche.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,190member
    TMI, especially from a board member. I don't need to know this information and board members should be keeping this information secret. Of course, this now makes sense why Google got such a big step with mobile devices and why Steve Jobs was so mad. They had a year to work things out before everybody else found out about the iPhone.
  • Reply 2 of 41

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post



    TMI, especially from a board member. I don't need to know this information and board members should be keeping this information secret. Of course, this now makes sense why Google got such a big step with mobile devices and why Steve Jobs was so mad. They had a year to work things out before everybody else found out about the iPhone.


    Yep, that was really a snakey thing Schmidt did to Apple! 

  • Reply 3 of 41

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


    Yep, that was really a snakey thing Schmidt did to Apple! 



     


    Probably for "years" Google knew Apple is thinking about a phone with a touchscreen and no keypad.


     


    I think Google also knew Apple is a closed ecosystem and there is demand for an "open" platform that Google could control.

  • Reply 4 of 41


    This tidbit, while surprising from an Apple perspective, is unsurprising given the source. When Levinson was at Genentech, he was known as a genuine, honest and inspiring mentor, along with being a brilliant scientist. He encouraged the younger scientists to stay on and hold on to their stock options during Genentech's darker days. Quite a few may not be millionaires today without his advice. All to say, this sort of honest, anecdotal and yet unrevealing insight is what his friends and acquaintances expect from him.

  • Reply 5 of 41
    rob53 wrote: »
    Of course, this now makes sense why Google got such a big step with mobile devices and why Steve Jobs was so mad. They had a year to work things out before everybody else found out about the iPhone.
    Yep, that was really a snakey thing Schmidt did to Apple! 

    Based on how long it took Google to come to market with Android, what it looked like even right after the announcement of the iPhone, and how poor of an OS it was when it finally launched I have a hard time believing Schmidt stole anything relevant to give to Google.
  • Reply 5 of 41
    .
  • Reply 7 of 41
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,190member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post







    Based on how long it took Google to come to market with Android, what it looked like even right after the announcement of the iPhone, and how poor of an OS it was when it finally launched I have a hard time believing Schmidt stole anything relevant to give to Google.


    I'm only replying to your first posting....


     


    Apple's BOD have knowledge of products but not necessarily how they are built. We know Schmidt took ideas to Google. It was up to Google's programmers and designers to act on those ideas. Your statement actually shows how technically deficient Google employees are not whether Schmidt stole anything.

  • Reply 8 of 41
    rob53 wrote: »
    I'm only replying to your first posting....

    Apple's BOD have knowledge of products but not necessarily how they are built. We know Schmidt took ideas to Google. It was up to Google's programmers and designers to act on those ideas. Your statement actually shows how technically deficient Google employees are not whether Schmidt stole anything.

    1) I don't know why Huddler infrequently does duplicate posts.

    2) I can see that. Excellent counter-argument.
  • Reply 9 of 41


    Good to hear from Art, such a key player at both Genentech and Apple.


    Because he was so inspirational at Genentech, both as a bench scientist


    and as CEO, Dr. Levinson would actually make for a fantastic Apple CEO


    if, ahem, something were to happen ...


     


    Genentech, very early on, recognized the primacy of Apple gear and


    adopted it en masse even before Jobs' return -- he considered it


    an actual competitive advantage over other biotech firms.   Indeed,


    early Genentech, as the granddaddy of an enitre industry, moved faster


    than any other propeller-head outfit I've seen at bringing to fruition key


    products in addition to allowing for unfettered good science.


     


    And, as a company trying to concentrate on the long-term good,


    GNE/DNA also had to steer thru the minefield of Wall St. fickleness --


    the Apple board of directors knows the financial games very well.


     


    Lastly for now, although this is not primarily the place for overly personal


    anecdotes, I know an incredible Genentech contributor who developed


    a little program called "Gmail" ...


     


    --retiarius


     


    P.S.  Google is still "wet behind the ears" in all areas of leadership,


    product output, and user-interface savvy compared to Apple, methinks.

  • Reply 10 of 41
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,662member
    rob53 wrote: »
    I'm only replying to your first posting....

    Apple's BOD have knowledge of products but not necessarily how they are built. We know Schmidt took ideas to Google. It was up to Google's programmers and designers to act on those ideas. Your statement actually shows how technically deficient Google employees are not whether Schmidt stole anything.

    I'd agree and add perhaps the show and tell the BOD gets doesn't go all the deep into the software side. Isn't it the case that Google were caught napping regarding the iPhone's touch interface and had to bolt that onto their mini keyboard based interface? Or is that another apocryphal tale?
  • Reply 11 of 41
    It's hard for me to really take these comments too seriously given that he came to the board post Jobs. He can speak to how things are now, sure. But I take any comments from previous eras with a bit of salt
  • Reply 12 of 41
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member


    One of the keys to the success of any possible iWatch is the iPod nano.  By increasing its size, Apple has largely eliminated the market for 3rd party wrist straps for the new nano.  This clears the path for an Apple-branded wrist-wearable iDevice.  If Apple had kept the nano at its watch-like size, it would have cannibalized sales of the (possible future) wrist-wearable iDevice.

  • Reply 13 of 41

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post



    It's hard for me to really take these comments too seriously given that he came to the board post Jobs. He can speak to how things are now, sure. But I take any comments from previous eras with a bit of salt




    Not true.

  • Reply 14 of 41
    mjteixmjteix Posts: 563member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post



    It's hard for me to really take these comments too seriously given that he came to the board post Jobs. He can speak to how things are now, sure. But I take any comments from previous eras with a bit of salt


     


    Re-read the article: he was named chaiman post-Jobs (he replaced Steve!), but is member of the board since 2000 and co-lead of the board since 2005.


     


    You should be sent to work in salt mines for comments like that.

  • Reply 15 of 41

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post


    Yep, that was really a snakey thing Schmidt did to Apple! 



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post


     


    Probably for "years" Google knew Apple is thinking about a phone with a touchscreen and no keypad.


     


    I think Google also knew Apple is a closed ecosystem and there is demand for an "open" platform that Google could control.





    Funny that everyone blames Schmidt but no one blames Levinson, who served on both the boards of Apple and Google. But then, the know-it-alls here all remember this, I am sure.

  • Reply 16 of 41
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    In other news, the FBI reports a sharp uptick in the kidnapping and torture of Apple board members, especially during travel in South Korea.
  • Reply 17 of 41

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mjteix View Post


     


    Re-read the article: he was named chaiman post-Jobs (he replaced Steve!), but is member of the board since 2000 and co-lead of the board since 2005.


     


    You should be sent to work in salt mines for comments like that.





    I'm sure, being an Apple know-it-all, he doesn't have to read the article to know the history of the board. ;-)

  • Reply 18 of 41
    h2ph2p Posts: 326member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post



    It's hard for me to really take these comments too seriously given that he came to the board post Jobs. He can speak to how things are now, sure. But I take any comments from previous eras with a bit of salt


     


    Just so you know, Art Levinson joined the Apple Board in 2000... co-chairman since 2005.


     


    http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/11/15en-US-Apple-Names-Arthur-D-Levinson-Chairman-of-the-Board.html


     


    Re: Google. Schmidt, IMHO, did rip off Apple's fundamental idea of a "blank canvas" phone with an OS that can adapt and change to the user/programmers needs. It's the brilliant concept that is akin to when Apple took the PARC window's concept and figured out overlapping windows (regioning, I believe it's called). Except Apple did it with permission.

     

  • Reply 19 of 41
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,069member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post







    Based on how long it took Google to come to market with Android, what it looked like even right after the announcement of the iPhone, and how poor of an OS it was when it finally launched I have a hard time believing Schmidt stole anything relevant to give to Google.


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post


    I'm only replying to your first posting....


     


    Apple's BOD have knowledge of products but not necessarily how they are built. We know Schmidt took ideas to Google. It was up to Google's programmers and designers to act on those ideas. Your statement actually shows how technically deficient Google employees are not whether Schmidt stole anything.





    When I first read the article, I immediately thought that Schmidt definitely had a heads-up on on the iPhone and ran with it.  I suppose only Schmidt and Jobs are the only ones that really knew what happened and with Jobs no longer in the picture, Schmidt doesn't have anyone really that can challenge him on stealing Apple's phone idea.



    I do agree that it was the Android development team that just couldn't step-up to the challenge.  As much as Android has improved since v1.0, it's still a big steaming pile of waste. 

     

  • Reply 20 of 41
    Probably for "years" Google knew Apple is thinking about a phone with a touchscreen and no keypad.

    I think Google also knew Apple is a closed ecosystem and there is demand for an "open" platform that Google could control.

    You can't "control" an open platform.
    You can, however, control an "open" platform.
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