Perception Versus Reality: What Now For Apple?
“I’m an optimist in the sense that I believe humans are noble and honourable, and some of them are really smart,” said Jobs in an interview with Wired in 1996. “I have a very optimistic view of individuals. As individuals, people are inherently good. I have a somewhat more pessimistic view of people in groups.” Now Apple has to make its customers believe in the group…
It has time on its side. Tim Cook, Jonathan Ive (industrial design), Peter Oppenheimer (CFO) and Bob Mansfield (Mac & iPhone hardware engineering) [pictured above, left to right] may not be household names, but product pipelines are so long (the iPhone was in development for four years) that little will be affected in the short term. Jobs can take on his reduced role and everything will appear to run as normal. It may be a new era, but ‘business as usual’ will be the mantra going forward.
There is plenty on the horizon too. The iPhone 5 will likely be announced in September to get customers excited in the run up to Christmas and soon after will come the iPad 3. Inwardly facing things are under control too. Building work on Campus 2, Apple’s new 2.8m sq ft space age headquarters, will begin in 2012 becoming home to 13,000 employees and housing a 1,000-seater auditorium. The nagging question remains, however: who will dominate that auditorium?
“We were warned about you before this interview began,” said David Sheff of Playboy in 1985. “Someone said we were about to be snowed by the best”. It is a key observation. Apple makes great products and Jobs’ has a dream list of patents, but he is also a great salesman. Apple’s Bud Tribble coined the term Reality Distortion Field to describe the effect Jobs’ had on developers working on the original Mac project and it is a technique he has since extended to consumers and investors. Much worth has been placed in the so-called ‘RDF’ and scrutiny of Apple’s flaws will heighten if it fades.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards,” said Jobs in his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford in 2005. “So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path and that will make all the difference.”
It is a speech Jobs will no doubt rework for Apple executives over the coming months…