Monday, November 14, 2005

Drake II

So if it is true the a few people cannot change an entire culture alone, then how have people like Steve Jobs been able to create a significantly different kind of company? Jobs was lucky to enter an industry when it was new and emerging. So he had an opportunity to start from scratch. But, his own actions are just one part of a big machine. I think most of Apple’s differences come from what he encourages or allows or demands that people in the company do. It is their actions that make the culture. Jobs is just a public icon or mascot of that culture. What Jobs shows to the media and public may not be an accurate reflection of what exists inside the company. It is the image that sells Apple products.

Witness the iPod product. Did Jobs conceive this on his own? Did he design the controls? Did he select the white case and the marketing campaign? Did he pick the hard drive? No, he did none of these. Jobs probably demanded of his team that they come up with a new product that could dominate a market. He may have suggested that the MP3 market was totally fragments among vendors. From there, he just demanded that people come up with a better product that was different.

Where does the culture come from? It comes from the people inside. Jobs can point in a direction with a very behaviors. But, as important, is that he not take other actions that negate or make impossible the behavior that he is hoping for. Remember Fortress Insurance. They wanted new growth as long as they did not have to change anything they were doing.

Apple is now selling the video iPod. Was this a radical new invention? No, for several years there has been an emerging media player market. But, customers do not know what to do with such a device once they have one. Apple has a great product design in the iPod, now they have to give the customers video content so they know what to do with the new Video iPod. Music customers received help with content via iTunes. But they also had access to all of the legal and illegal music sharing services that had exploded in the years prior to the iPod’s release. Apple will create iVideo to provide content for the player. Notice that they have not created the Game iPod or iGames services. I think these do not fit with their user interface for iPod. Neither is their a huge repository of accessible content properties to tap into. This may come when all of the old console games are available as digital files for download.


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