Print 31 comment(s) - last by Tony Swash.. on May 18 at 1:07 PM

The key to Apple's success is elimination

It's no secret that Apple is a wildly successful software/computing company. Its products compete with some of the largest tech giants in the world like Google and Microsoft, yet it beat them all when Millward Brown (and over 2 million consumers) selected Apple as the world's most valuable brand in the 2011 BrandZ study. 

For Apple, the strategy is quality over quantity. The company has a smaller portfolio than most tech companies, but that hasn't stopped it from being in the top ranks. Just last month, Apple announced record fiscal Q2 revenue of $24.67 billion USD

Apple has certainly come a long way after experiencing consecutive quarterly losses during its attempts at reinvention in the mid to late 1990's. But many credit Jobs' return to Apple in the late 90's for the company's turnaround and introduction of revolutionary products.

But according to Nike CEO Mark Parker, it isn't so much what Jobs did for the company that turned it into a success, but rather, it's what he didn't do. Parker recalls having a conversation with Jobs when he first returned to Apple as CEO, asking for advice regarding Parker's Nike products. 

"Do you have any advice?" Parker asked Jobs. 

"Well, just one thing," replied Jobs. "Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff." 

An awkward moment slipped by where Parker just laughed at the advice, but Jobs didn't even chuckle. He was serious about what he had said, and after thinking about it a moment, Parker realized he was right.

"We had to edit," said Parker.

When Jobs returned to Apple, he cut the product line down from 350 to 10, and focused only on a few machines that were meticulously perfected. This strict focus has led to effective product designs and communications for Apple. For instance, when Apple released the next-generation MacBook laptops, the company announced that its aluminum unibody enclosure reduced 60 percent of the machine's major structural parts, making it thinner, lighter and surprisingly stronger.  

"People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on," said Jobs. "But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying 'no' to 1,000 things."

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RE: Brutal Honestly
By Reclaimer77 on 5/17/2011 11:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
It's not honesty, it's just more spin. Jobs cut the products he cut not because they were "too much" or whatever, he did it because they were inferior and couldn't compete.

So his advice is really that if you make something that's crappy and gets beat by competitors, don't actually try to make it better, just cut it and focus on a few things.

What works for Apple wont necessarily work for Nike. I'm pretty sure we won't see Nike radically changing anything because of this "advice".

RE: Brutal Honestly
By michael2k on 5/17/2011 12:24:53 PM , Rating: 2
No, spin is everything said afterwards; your post, my post, the article, the interview. He did in fact say exactly what you said, essentially, cutting crap because they were inferior and couldn't compete.

If he really said it, he wasn't spinning anything. The proof is in the pudding; he cut hundreds of products from 1997 onwards. Big products, small products, models, etc. 1997 had 13 Mac models, 7 of which were variants of largely the same Power Macintosh. 1996 saw the introduction of 12 models.

The year later? Apple only introduced 4 models in 1998, discontinuing many of their 1997 and 1996 models. 1999 only saw 7 models introduced, 5 of which are direct replacements of their 1998 models. The Power Macintosh saw two upgrades in one year, from G3 to G4.

This also applied to the eMate, Newton, Copland, A/UX, AppleWorks, HyperCard, and in the recent past also OS X Server, XServe, XSan, XServe RAID, etc.

It's a basic concept applicable to people, even; you cannot do everything well. Don't even try to make crap, is the nuance he's imparting. If you know it's crappy, don't do it. Do it better, or don't do it. You're exhortation to make it better is a waste of resources because it's already too late. You've wasted resources, goodwill, marketing, advertising, shelf space, and brand image on crap.

RE: Brutal Honestly
By robinthakur on 5/18/2011 7:46:36 AM , Rating: 2
You are so right. Would that MS took that advice before they kept pouring money at the Zune, Kin, the Live strategy, even the Xbox was a black hole sucking in billions of dollars until very recently. Still, Apple expereinced its own downturn through the 90's so it has learned something hopefully and the knowledge has been imparted widely throughout the company.

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