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An Apple Without Jobs?

Article from the Wall Street Journal speculating about how Apple will evolve in the post Steve Jobs era:

For every design project in the pipeline, Mr. Jobs will hold meetings of two or three hours every week or two with key members of the product team. At those meetings, Mr. Jobs will critique the work in progress and also suggest adding or cutting features. Glenn Reid, a software developer during Apple’s early years who had another stint at the company that ended in 2003, recalls one such meeting just days before a photo-editing program was to go into production. Mr. Jobs decided at the last minute that an index feature on the software made the system unnecessarily complex, and decided to eliminate it, even though documentation for the product had already been printed. It was frustrating to Mr. Reid and his software team, “but it made the product better,” Mr. Reid says.

Mr. Jobs’s unwillingness to accept compromises “and the unquestioned authority that lets him issue last-minute edicts” have become a key to Apple’s success in developing new products, Mr. Reid says. George Crow, an Apple engineer in the 1980s and again from 1998 to 2005, noted that the company struggled during the years when Mr. Jobs was not running Apple.

On the other hand, certain of Mr. Jobs’s uncompromising principles with computers, such as wanting “to make the inside beautiful”, ran counter to more practical impulses. On the original Macintosh PC, Mr. Crow says, Mr. Jobs wanted the internal wiring to be in the colors of Apple’s early rainbow logo (Mr. Crow says he eventually convinced Mr. Jobs it was an unnecessary expense). On another machine that Mr. Crow worked on for NeXT, the computer maker Mr. Jobs founded between Apple stints, he says Mr. Jobs insisted that the internal power supply be nickel plated, an expensive ornamentation that was eventually discontinued.

His most recent run at Apple has been nothing short of spectacular. He is going to be a tough act to follow, but they are going to have to face reality soon.

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