Why Apple Will Not Always Build Great Products

When I look at an Apple (AAPL) product, I just want to say, “How you doin’? That’s because Apple makes some damn fine-looking products.

Last week, I stated my theory as to why this is: Apple prioritizes product design over all else. When compromises in features or manufacturing cost need to be made, they uphold the beauty of the design first and foremost.

However, I don’t think this will last.

Their paramount emphasis on design comes from having an influential and high-ranking design champion: Steve Jobs. If a product VP dares suggest a design alteration to lower the cost for consumers, Jobs would probably lash back. He’s already known to be a critical micro-manager, so I don’t think this is a stretch.

What this means is the DNA of Jobs is closely interwoven into Apple’s products. So close that building an Apple product without him might be impossible. When Jobs departs, I don’t think Apple will continue creating such elegant and visionary products anymore. And no, I don’t think any of his possible successors can do the job.

For better or worse, Jobs is a product visionary, not an organization builder. As Jim Collins concluded in his book Built to Last:

If you’re involved in building and managing a company… think less in terms of being a brilliant product visionary or seeking the personality characteristics of charismatic leadership, and to think more in terms of being an organizational visionary and building the characteristics of a visionary company.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think this has been Jobs’ focus. Apple’s product design process is intrinsically tied to Jobs. Without him relentlessly prioritizing design above all else, the company won’t be the same.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.