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The Leander Kahney Interview with John Sculley on Steve Jobs

You should probably just skip what I have to say about it and go here and read the whole thing. It will take you about 15 minutes or so, but it’s worth every one of them because it’s a fascinating retrospective from a big turning point in the history of Apple.

A few choice quotes that really stick out from the interview:

On Jobs and design:

The thing that separated Steve Jobs from other people like Bill Gates — Bill was brilliant too — but Bill was never interested in great taste. He was always interested in being able to dominate a market. He would put out whatever he had to put out there to own that space. Steve would never do that. Steve believed in perfection. Steve was willing to take extraordinary chances in trying new product areas but it was always from the vantage point of being a designer. So when I think about different kinds of CEOs — CEOs who are great leaders, CEOs who are great turnaround artists, great deal negotiators, great people motivators — but the great skill that Steve has is he’s a great designer. Everything at Apple can be best understood through the lens of designing.

Sculley’s opinion on what’s wrong with Sony today (compared with how Apple is succeeding, specifically):

The Japanese always started with the market share of components first. So one would dominate, let’s say sensors and someone else would dominate memory and someone else hard drive and things of that sort. They would then build up their market strengths with components and then they would work towards the final product. That was fine with analog electronics where you are trying to focus on cost reduction — and whoever controlled the key component costs was at an advantage. It didn’t work at all for digital electronics because digital electronics you’re starting at the wrong end of the value chain. You are not starting with the components. You are not starting with the user experience.

And you can see today the tremendous problem Sony has had for at least the last 15 years as the digital consumer electronics industry has emerged. They have been totally stove-piped in their organization. The software people don’t talk to the hardware people, who don’t talk to the component people, who don’t talk to the design people. They argue between their organizations and they are big and bureaucratic.

Sony should have had the iPod but they didn’t — it was Apple. The iPod is a perfect example of Steve’s methodology of starting with the user and looking at the entire end-to-end system.

I think that’s a pretty good way of explaining the deficits of the PlayStation platform, too.

A second-hand report of the difference in culture between Apple and Microsoft:

An anecdotal story, a friend of mine was at meetings at Apple and Microsoft on the same day and this was in the last year, so this was recently. He went into the Apple meeting (he’s a vendor for Apple) and when he went into the meeting at Apple as soon as the designers walked in the room, everyone stopped talking because the designers are the most respected people in the organization. Everyone knows the designers speak for Steve because they have direct reporting to him. It is only at Apple where design reports directly to the CEO.

Later in the day he was at Microsoft. When he went into the Microsoft meeting, everybody was talking and then the meeting starts and no designers ever walk into the room. All the technical people are sitting there trying to add their ideas of what ought to be in the design. That’s a recipe for disaster.

And a really astute observation regarding where Apple was when the decision was made to reach out to Jobs:

[…] the Newton failed. It was a new direction. It was so fundamentally different. The result was I got fired and they had two more CEOs who both licensed the technology but… they shut down the industrial design. They turned out computers that looked like everybody else’s computers and they no longer cared about advertising, public relations. They just obliterated everything. We’re just going to become an engineering type company and they almost drove the company into bankruptcy during that.

I’m actually convinced that if Steve hadn’t come back when he did — if they had waited another six months — Apple would have been history. It would have been gone, absolutely gone.

It really is a very good read with some key insights and the kind of regrets spoken aloud you don’t often hear from an executive.

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Bing for Mobile Comes to Your Verizon Android

The Bing Community Search blog:

Today we are happy to announce the first official Bing for Mobile Android App available to Verizon customers.  You can now download the free Bing App from your Verizon Wireless Android phones’ Marketplace.

This is precisely why I (unfortunately) hope that Android doesn’t gain the upper hand in the mobile market. Apple did a great job freeing handsets from a lot of carrier interference with the platform and user experience—though AT&T fought back by using network restrictions—and Android is handing that control right back to the carriers, where it shouldn’t be.

This app should be available for all Android phones.

(via Bing Community.)

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Apple Retina Display (via Jonesblog)

So, if a normal human eye can discriminate two points separated by 1 arcminute/cycle at a distance of a foot, we should be able to discriminate two points 89 micrometers apart which would work out to about 287 pixels per inch.  Since the iPhone 4G display is comfortably higher than that measure at 326 pixels per inch, I’d find Apple’s claims stand up to what the human eye can perceive.

Great article about the pixel size and density of the new iPhone 4G, with some pleasantly nerdy microscope photography and technical explanation.

(via Apple Retina Display – Jonesblog.)

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Apple Design Awards (from WWDC10)

The Apple Design Awards 2010 recognize iPhone OS applications that demonstrate technical excellence, innovation, superior technology adoption, high performance, and outstanding design. Each year, winning products set new standards for the developer community to follow. Read about what made this year’s winners stand out above the rest.

Well-deserved, though I think there are too many games represented in the iPad group. Star Walk is particularly awesome.

(via Apple Design Awards – WWDC10 – Apple Developer.)

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Changing the Game

Gizmodo’s Joel Johnson, responding to Cory Doctorow:

The old guard has The Fear. They see the iPad and the excitement it has engendered and realize that they’ve made themselves inessential—or at least invisible. They’ve realized that it’s possible to make a computer that doesn’t break, doesn’t stop working, doesn’t need constant tinkering. Unlike a car, it’s possible to design a computer that is bulletproof. It just turns out that one of the ways to make that work is to lock it down. That sucks, but it certainly appears to be a better solution than design by committee gave us for the last couple of decades.

Stuff like this is why the iPad excites me. Not only is it going to be dead simple to use, it’s the first truly new paradigm in interface design we’ve seen since… well, the iPhone. It really is like personal computing’s Wii.

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Do you think Steve Jobs wants to be a se…

Do you think Steve Jobs wants to be a serial entrepreneur? Bill Gates? Warren Buffet? Larry Ellison? All these guys put big stakes in their life’s work. Companies that they built from scratch, that they’ll champion until they can champion them no more. Sure, they may have hobby companies on the side, but for each of them, there’s one defining business, one spectacular legacy to leave behind when they’re gone.

DHH, Signal vs. Noise: “Not for sale”

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This weekend was exactly what I needed. …

This weekend was exactly what I needed. My mother-in-law was in town from Chicago, and we took the kids up to Grant’s Farm (pictures to come from that trip). I managed to get a lot of really productive work done on a few WordPress projects in the late nights, but mostly the days were spent having good times with family.

And my phone broke. But it’s OK now.

I have an iPhone 3GS. I’ve been playing with it for the better part of the day and I do have to say that this thing is about to become as indispensable as my Moleskine and my wallet.

Having this much communicative ability and utility with me everywhere I go is something that I should have done a long time ago. What an awesome little device. Considering the fact that I didn’t even have a texting plan on the old phone, this is a massive shift.

I plan on posting up more detailed thoughts on the blog after I’ve had some time to play with it.

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O’Reilly is publishing a book entitled …

O’Reilly is publishing a book entitled Best iPhone Apps:

Best iPhone Apps is a reliable guide to the best, most useful, and most entertaining iPhone apps, concisely cataloged and described. This colorful catalog gives you the quick lowdown on each app, with brief tips on how to use it. This is the guide for discriminating downloaders.

Very rarely have I seen an idea for a book that will be as out-of-date as soon as it is published. I like O’Reilly, but this is a weird idea.

This must be for an audience that isn’t me.

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This is what I have my nose in…

This is what I have my nose in for at least the next couple of weeks…

stp_tco

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HP is throwing up awesome-looking applic…

HP is throwing up awesome-looking applications that replicate the functionality of calculators from the past. iPhone Central:

Hewlett-Packard (HP) today announced iPhone-app versions of three classic HP calculators: the HP 12c, HP 12c Platinum, and HP 15C.

This is a crazy idea, but at least one commenter on the original article claims that he would buy an iPhone just to have an app of the 11c. The screenshot of the app makes it look well-designed and nostalgia-tinged.

(via Daring Fireball.)