When I met with Steve Jobs to talk about Fon I found him to be both a genius and an unbearable person. I walked into the meeting in awe and I left in desperation. Steve Jobs in person was one of the biggest disappointments of my business life. And that was only after a 90 minute meeting. Other top entrepreneur who I met including Larry, Sergey, Jeff Bezos, Michael Dell and even Bill Gates are extremely nice people and not for that less successful than Steve Jobs. And this is not just my opinion but that of most who ever dealt closely with Steve Jobs I found out later, something that somehow the general public is not aware of. I imagine that working for Steve Jobs every day must be occasionally great but frequently a torture. And I say this writing off a Mac and with an iPhone in my pocket, my point is that you don´t need to be cruel to be successful. As a result, probably Steve´s main character flaw, which is to remind you in every other sentence what a brilliant individual he is and how unoriginal you are, partly explains the success of the new Palm Pre. In this post Scoble explains both, how fantastic the new Palm Pre is but also how it was mostly built by former Apple employees. Would this be Apple employees who couldn´t stand Steve anymore? Probably. Everyone calls Steve Jobs a genius and he certainly is a design genius. But he would be even more successful and certainly a happier person if he did not have a compulsion for humiliating other folks.
Disclosure: I own Apple shares and do not own Palm shares.
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Pete on January 11, 2009 ·
Many thanks for a very honest and interesting post.
I’d like to think that people can become great without being unbearable and autocratic. However, it does seem that so many great business people are “difficult” personalities: Steve Balmer and Ted Turner both strike me as being similar to how you describe Steve Jobs.
Charbax on January 11, 2009 ·
Palm Pre is made using the best embedded OS Linux on the worlds best and most powerful embedded processor, the Texas Instruments ARM Cortex A8 processor. Now this does give the Palm Pre a very large technologic advantage. In fact the Texas Instruments ARM Cortex A8 is 3-4x more powerful then the iphone 3G processor.
Apple had billions to spend in R&D for the iphone that they got from succeeding to beat out Asian and European Mp3 player designs. Basically having a popular design with the ipod and marketing it in the right way. So for sure, when you have billions of dollars of R&D to spend, and you got a reputation of doing popular design in consumer electronics, you have to find the right people that can make for you the kind of embedded OS that looks and feels right according to that Apple image of providing fashion design. You hire those people and pay them whatever salaries they need to do the job for you. Though the iphone really is more about flashy animated gimmicks in the interfaces then it is about core revolutionary functionalities.
Apple’s problem is that they want to own and control everything. It works for them to control and make 300% profit margins, the worlds biggest profit margins on popular consumer electronics. Insanely huge profit margins that nobody else in the industry has ever been able to imitate. So that gives Steve Jobs the taste of wanting to own and control more. That drives Apple in making deeply wrong decisions on the way the iTunes DRM scheme has worked, on the way they continue to lock down their proprietary hardware with huge margins to their software. People pay those huge margins to Apple and supposedly that should pay for the innovations.
Apple continues to sell a lot on just repackaging old technology in their layers of fashion and design. I think though people are going to understand that they have been cheated, that they were paying unreasonable prices for Apple products and that better features and a better value through direct competition are more important than design and gimmicks.
Lasse Enersen on January 11, 2009 ·
I think that Apple’s success is partly a result of Steve Jobs character flaws.
Lecunale on January 11, 2009 ·
El aprovechar los avances de Apple, es algo de vieja data. (De eso sabe bastante Vil Gates)
Recuerdo que allá por los ’80, un amigo (Gabriel), trabajaba en Apple, y estaba dentro de los desarrolladores de la Newton, proyecto que se discontinuó. Fue la primera vez que vi una touch screen de bolsillo. Muchos quedaron sin trabajo, y fueron inmediatamente contratados por Palm, que aprovechó los avances de dicho proyecto originario de Apple. Y en ese entonces, si no me equivoco, Steve no estaba en Apple.
Andy Chen on January 11, 2009 ·
How interesting that we find parallel between politics and
business.. in this case, between Steve Jobs and George
Bush. People find Bush to be extremely likable in person
but atrocious when comes to job performance. Jobs, on
the other hand, is the mirror opposite from your vintage
Maybe that is the essence of a genius.
Pedro Assunção on January 12, 2009 ·
well… i own palm shares (and also have an iphone in my pocket), bought them after Bono Vox (he who was close to apple) invested in palm and before the pre launch. I expected the shares to go up 10-15% after the CES keynote. But what came out of that keynote was massive!
But will the stock continue to go up? Only if… they start selling that phone in the next 90days. I’m not sure they will manage to do that. But i guess i will get me one as soon as they are available in Europe.
Anyway… i loved to see the look on Steve’s face after the Palm Pre launch.
javier Guillén on January 15, 2009 ·
Today i watch on tv news that Steve Jobs have a rest because he is sick. Good luck Steve.I hope he recovers.
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Mankel on January 11, 2009 ·
I think Jobs would punctuate very high in the Psychopathy Check List. His behavior is quite consistent with that, combined, as it usually is, with a high dosage of narcisism.