Steve Jobs wasn't a good engineer, had to learn communication & sales says Wozniak

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Steve Jobs wasn't a natural leader at marketing and communications, and had to learn it because he wasn't a good engineer, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak claims in a new interview.

Steve Wozniak


The former CEO and co-founder was widely celebrated as a great communicator and salesman, due to his legendary on-stage performances at Apple special events. However, Jobs wasn't always the natural showman, says co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Speaking to CNBC, Woz discussed how Jobs had to compensate for not being a skilled computer engineer, and he did so by working on his communication skills.

"He learned a lot of marketing principles because he wasn't really capable, engineering-wise, you know, computer hardware [and] software," said Woz. "He had to find other areas to make himself important."

Following on from comments made in 2021 about how Jobs' "personality changed" from fun-loving to serious when Apple was founded, Woz adds more to the story. According to him, an important part of the change was watching Jobs "develop his communication [skills]" for the good of the company.

"Being the main communicator and main business decider of things. He was very good at [that]," recounts Woz.

Jobs' skill helped promote Apple as a maker of user-friendly devices like the iPhone, making it "an understandable technology product in your hand that the Average Joe wouldn't get confused by."

Later, in 2020, rival Bill Gates admitted he was "so jealous" of how Jobs was a natural public speaker. Gates went on to say Jobs was "a genius" for how he could inspire customers and employees alike.

During the interview, Wozniak contrasted Jobs' skill with that of contestants taking part in the "Unicorn Hunters" reality show. Woz was "amazed" at the lack of communications skills of some of the entrepreneurs taking part.

"We watched a lot of pitches that were kind of rough and stuttering, and they'd kind of lose themselves, and that doesn't help when you're pitching to investors," he commented.


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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    lmasantilmasanti Posts: 162member
    Actually… the soul of Apple as a company is that ‘it is a learning company.’

    Woz was and still is a genial engineer… but did not learnt any other skills.

    Apple released a funny iPhone in 2007… old tech to say the less… and now dominates. Released an iPad… and dominoes… the Watch… 

    —Wait for the Apple car!
    Alex_VBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 26
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,610member
    Isn’t this story obvious?
    edited March 7 viclauyychmurchisondewmedarkvadereriamjhzigzaglenswatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 3 of 26
    Jobs is a pioneer and trail blazer of modern digital information culture. Before Jobs, user must read manuals and instructions first before being able to run a program or operate a device. Engineers are fond of knowing how to do tricks in a program or device. Woz was one of them. 
    elijahgkillroyAlex_Vzigzaglenswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 26
    hodarhodar Posts: 348member
    Steve Jobs DROPPED OUT of College, he had his own area of expertise, he was a visionary - and Woz was an exceptional engineer.  I am sure that 95% of the engineering students graduating today wouldn't measure up to Woz's standards, in that Woz is a technical genius.  He took what Jobs envisioned, and made it a reality.  IMHO, neither one would have been wildly successful without the other.  They needed each other, they were friends, and they worked exceptionally well together.  Steve did what he could, and Woz did what he did - it's merely a statement of fact.
    hmurchisonjas99elijahgauxioh2pstompyAlex_VMisterKitargonautzigzaglens
  • Reply 5 of 26
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 834member
    Can't someone silence this self-absorbed blabbermouth?
    If someone is entitled to talk about Jobs’ early days, it is Woz. Maybe you should read some books about apple’s history before you comment about Woz. 

    i often think, “Without Woz, Apple will never started. Without Jobs, Apple will never succeeded”
    edited March 7 elijahgronnwilliamlondonAlex_Vcrowleyargonautgilly33juanguapograndact73whittonm
  • Reply 6 of 26
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,354member
    I read Owen Linzmayer's book on the two 

    I don't think Jobs' had to learn anything about marketing. He already knew how to sell his ideas.  What made Jobs special was his love of Art.   He loved Calligraphy and other forms of art.  I don't think he ever wanted to be an Engineer. He knew success was at the intersection of Art and Computing and he was right.  

    As @Hodar says neither would have found success without the other. 
    elijahgAlex_Vargonautravnorodomzigzaglenswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 26
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,895member
    This is just Woz trying to keep himself relevant, something he hasn't been in 35 years.  Everyone knows Steve wasn't an engineer.  He was a visionary.  And while he may have learned the technical side of marketing and sales, he clearly had natural abilities in these areas.  He knew how to sell a product based on what you could do with it, not just the specs.  He was obsessed with beauty and symmetry.  Woz was and is a great engineer, but he's never had an ounce of vision.  
    jas99waveparticleJapheywilliamlondonargonautravnorodomzigzaglenswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 26
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,410member
    sdw2001 said:
    This is just Woz trying to keep himself relevant, something he hasn't been in 35 years.  Everyone knows Steve wasn't an engineer.  He was a visionary.  And while he may have learned the technical side of marketing and sales, he clearly had natural abilities in these areas.  He knew how to sell a product based on what you could do with it, not just the specs.  He was obsessed with beauty and symmetry.  Woz was and is a great engineer, but he's never had an ounce of vision.  
    Exactly. He pops up every 4-6 months in some idiotic fashion so that everybody remembers he’s still alive. Then, every blog and tech site in the universe fall all over themselves for the next week repeating the same story. Rinse, repeat. See you in July, Woz. 
    steve_jobsjas99ravnorodomwatto_cobrajony0cornchip
  • Reply 9 of 26
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 466member
    Good ol' Woz. "Look at me! Look at me! I was relevant 40+ years ago for about two years. Jobs sucked! Me Me Me!!!"
    jas99watto_cobradaveinpublic
  • Reply 10 of 26
    zeus423zeus423 Posts: 163member
    As I sit in front of my iMac writing this, I am thankful that they both helped create the very device I couldn't imagine being without. My whole interest in computers started on an Apple II and later a tiny little Mac. While this iMac is many generations removed from the first one I used, the love for the Mac hasn't waned over time. Thank you Woz, and thank you Jobs! They are both visionary in their own fields of excellence.
    dewmeronnAlex_Vargonautwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 26
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 587member
    Yes, but he was a good learner!
    Alex_Vwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 26
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,993member
    Woz has always been verbally awkward.  I don't read it as coming across as crass.  He's right.  Jobs was never an engineer.  He was a salesman and visionary.  Woz created the Apple computer.  Jobs did the marketing and selling it.  Woz and Jobs needed each other back then.  Apple would have been a blip in the history books if it weren't for Steve Jobs.  Jobs took Apple to the next level and created the teams to help in that rise.  Woz became irrelevant quickly.  

    I suspect there's more grandstanding from the media than what Woz is saying.  
    Alex_Vargonautgrandact73watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 26
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 891member
    Woz is right.  He was the competent one, Jobs was the idiot blabbermouth.  Woz made stuff, Jobs made noise.

    Jobs was fired for a good reason in 1985, he should have been fired again in 1996.  Apple was a good company because of Woz.  Apple succeeded in spite of Steve Jobs, and turned into a far worse company because of him, Ive, and Cook.
    grandact73cornchip
  • Reply 14 of 26
    fizzmasterfizzmaster Posts: 104member
    I met Woz at a conference a few years back and he is certainly out there. He was all over the place and nearly incoherent.

    I respect what he did and he is entitled to his opinion. It is just sad to see him resort to this kind of talk. Frankly, it makes him look silly.
    watto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 15 of 26
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 2,262member
    Had Woz, the engineer, implemented floating-point like Jobs had been adamantly requesting, Microsoft would not have gotten a contract from Apple and become a menacing competitor. 
    watto_cobrajony0cornchip
  • Reply 16 of 26
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,196member
    darkvader said:
    Woz is right.  He was the competent one, Jobs was the idiot blabbermouth.  Woz made stuff, Jobs made noise.

    Jobs was fired for a good reason in 1985, he should have been fired again in 1996.  Apple was a good company because of Woz.  Apple succeeded in spite of Steve Jobs, and turned into a far worse company because of him, Ive, and Cook.
    Pure horseshit. Jobs wasn’t even working for Apple until 97. Apple bought NeXT in December of 96. Apple’s board appointed Jobs as interim CEO on September 16, 1997, 12 years to the day he was fired from Apple. 
    When he came back, Apple was less than 90 days from bankruptcy. If he hadn’t come back there wouldn’t be an Apple computer anymore and certainly nobody would have cared who Woz was. 

    He didn’t have to come back as his work at Pixar made him a billionaire. So yes he knows something about marketing and sales and that he learned away from Apple when he was trying to get NeXT off the ground. 
    edited March 8 Alex_Vwatto_cobrajony0Xedcornchip
  • Reply 17 of 26
    Quite frankly, who gives a rat's patootie about what Steve Wozniak thinks? Dude wrote a clever floppy-disk controller — nicely done, Steve, seriously — but has skated on his self-nurtured personality cult since. Sorry, Steve, but your 15 minutes ran out about 15 — 30? — years ago. https://bit.ly/3IY1Njp
    bloggerblogdewmewatto_cobrajony0DnykjpRfC6fnBs
  • Reply 18 of 26
    bsimpsenbsimpsen Posts: 375member
    Woz was simply in the right place at the right time. In the spring of 1975, a senior in my engineering school opened his briefcase in the student lounge to reveal a portable computer. It was battery operated, had an 8080 CPU, a 4” (16 lines of 64 chars) screen and full keyboard, and loaded programs from cassette tape, far faster than the Kansas City Standard that was born the same year. It could play music (crude, but recognizable) and communicate over a serial port to the school’s PDP-11. I’ve no idea what happened to that engineering student, but I imagine he was every bit as “brilliant” as Woz.

    Woz’s inability to do anything of note since the Apple II tells you all you need to know about his “genius”. Steve Jobs continued to pursue his vision of personal computing for more than three decades, setting Apple on the path to becoming the world’s most successful company.
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 19 of 26
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,374member
    Wow, so much salt in here from people who haven’t achieved a fraction of what Woz did.

    Love the guy, and always appreciate hearing him reminisce and share stories from early Apple. 
    argonautdewmeronngrandact73jony0
  • Reply 20 of 26
    I think Steve Jobs was to Stan Lee as Steve Wozniak was to Jack Kirby‼️

    ‘Nuff said‼️;)

    hammeroftruth
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