They say that you should never go back. Steve Jobs ignored that, but then that went for a lot of other conventional wisdom too. And so it was, that in 1997 Steve Jobs went back to Apple, all those years after have been forced out of the company he and Woz had stated by John Sculley. The speech he made at the Boston Macworld Expo that year remains, in my mind, one of the great mission statements of the tech era.
This later 1997 Q&A session at WWDC is also amazing, partly because it shows how passionate he was about the whole project, partly because of his willingness to engage with the developers, but mostly because he lays out exactly where he wants Apple to sit in the computing ecosphere
This is where the plan for the future of Apple was laid on the line. And if things needed to be said that annoyed or antagonised the faithful then so be it. And scariest of all is the fact that this is exactly where Apple is now. The foundation for the company that Apple is now can be traced back to that presentation and to those values. It’s also a great example of the Reality Distortion Field that surrounded jobs at times, but only the truly remarkable have the power to be able to bend the world to their will in that way. And Jobs was remarkable. He has managed to change to computer industry several times, with the introduction of the Mac, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. All of them were game changers. Yes, he could be an asshole to work for, but the key thing was it was done to make the products better; to deliver things that people didn’t even realise they wanted. When management consultants try to tell you what a Transcendental leader is, this is what they mean. And now he’s not there.
Apple will be the poorer without him, of course. for the short term the direction and the plan is secure, but in the longer term things look different. Is there anyone with the vision and drive who can push the company on? Tuesday’s iPhone 4S launch didn’t exactly inspire huge amounts of confidence. thoughts for another time, right now, I think this sums things up best: