Five years ago, on October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs passed away. As the founder of Apple Computer, he created a brand and series of products unmatched for his time, and served as a business & innovation role model for an entire generation of designers, artists, and business leaders. With half a decade now gone, and Apple Computer’s future arguably at a defining turning point, a few of us on the Boston XD team wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on Apple’s impact on their lives, and what the last few years of Apple have meant to them.
Do one thing well
Throughout art school, I reflected fondly on times with my dad learning design programs on our Macintosh Color Classic, then years later teaching myself basic coding on my iMac (that I bought with my own savings), and in college, using my iBook to keep my school life on track. As I used these products over my formative years and learned more about Steve Jobs, I cherished a crucial lesson Steve Jobs preached: Do one thing well.
This edict came into play upon his 1997 return to Apple when there were too many products with no distinguishing features, so he nixed as many as he could. Since Jobs’ passing, I see this issue coming back to Apple, as others do. In the diagram below, you can see the multitude of options* for each product. I’m not even including all the colors. If your friend walked into the Apple store and wanted an iPad, which of the 21 would they pick? Would they pick the iPad mini 2 or 4? Not sure what the difference is? Me neither.
If Steve Jobs walked into Apple Computer now, which products would he nix? What’s the “one thing” Apple does well? I don’t have a good answer. That scares the shit out of me.