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The Myth of Steve Jobs’ Constant Breakthroughs

The next time you hear some dummy say something like “Apple just doesn’t innovate like they did with Steve Jobs”, slap them upside the head and then give them this article by Harry McCracken to check out on their Blackberry:

Last Friday, Apple’s iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c went on sale. The company sold nine million of them in the first weekend, breaking the five-million-phone record it set last year with the iPhone 5. I sort of thought that was clearly good news for Apple and the iPhone. Or at least not, you know, worrisome news.

Then I read a piece by Sandy Cannold at (which I found via MG Siegler’s ParisLemon). Cannold says that the new iPhones selling so well and generating so much hoopla is potentially alarming.

Apple One Infinite Loop

Skeptics will always be skeptics. And the narrative that Apple is doomed to failure is just too juicy to pass up for many journalists and armchair technology pundits – but at least base your story in fact and not twisting everything around to fit your narrow view of how the tech world should work.

Jobs has “…a total of six industry-changing items, or one every 860 days on average, though the gap was sometimes substantially longer.”

Now, that’s a remarkable streak. But it’s not a revolution every other year. And Tim Cook has been CEO of Apple for only a little over two years, so there’s nothing deeply troubling about the fact that he hasn’t boiled any oceans yet.

Every single thing Apple releases will be trumpeted by Apple fans as the greatest thing since the iPod and pointed to as the downfall of Apple by the doomsday crowd.

Meanwhile Apple keeps working at its products. Incrementally making them better with each new release.

  1. The other thing people fail to mention: how “delicate” Steve’s success was. There were multiple times where it could have all ended: the company could have gone bankrupt, the “big bets” could have been lost, the timing could have been off.

    Steve succeeded – but there were a number of factors that affected that success.

    What Apple, as a company, has proven is that focusing on a few things, and doing them really well, is a good way to build a company. We’ll see how long they can sustain it (nothing lasts forever) but it’s definitely been a great ride so far.

  2. Bingo. That’s why as much as I’m a fan of Jobs, there’s no way you can try and copy what he did into your own business or company. So many factors led to his and Apple’s success behind just being a fan of typography and an opinionated dick.

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