The announcement that Steve Jobs is resigning as CEO of Apple has ignited a tsunami of analysis and commentary, much of it quite enlightening. I liked this piece by the always-reliable Harry McCracken comparing Apple after Jobs to Disney after Disney. And Internet smartie Rex Hammock brings great perspective to the whole arc of Apple's success under Steve.
But even those two pieces reveal an important blind spot that is even more gaping in the vast majority of stories written by tech reporters and tech bloggers. And that is, amazingly enough, underestimating Steve Jobs' contributions to Apple.
Yes, his product design strategy philosophy/taste has been super-critical to Apple's success. But there is so much more that Jobs has done much less visibly and I am much more concerned about those areas.
It was Jobs who had the cred and the charisma and the balls to get the music industry on board with the iTunes store when every other effort at the time was a disaster. It was Jobs who similarly convinced wireless carriers to give Apple far more control over the phone user experience than any previous manufacturer. I'm not happy about how he deployed his skills in the ebook arena as a consumer but from Apple's point of view he pulled off a business miracle in outfoxing Amazon.
And even more opaquely to everyone on the outside, how has Jobs developed, attracted and retained the most talented senior folks like a Tim Cook or a Jon Ive and kept them working in harmony? What about changing strategies mid-stream -- iPod won't have video/iPod has video, no one reads anymore/iBooks for iPads and many more examples (probably bigger ones I am forgetting). There is a lot more to Apple's success than great product design.
And that is why, despite its amazing products and current top-o-the-heap standing, I continue to be more pessimistic about Apple after Jobs than the vast majority of folks.
(Please note, comments on The Orange View are heavily moderated)