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Chapter One. First Movers, First Mistakes: IBM, Digital Research, Apple, and Microsoft
Chapter Two. Devious Devices: IBM and the PC Junior, Jeff Bezos and the Fire Phone
Chapter Three. Positioning Puzzlers: MicroPro and Microsoft
Chapter Four. We Hate You, We Really Hate You: Ed Esber and Ashton-Tate
Chapter Five. The Idiot Piper: OS/2 and IBM
Chapter Six. Frenchman Eats Frog, Chokes to Death: Borland and Philippe Kahn
Chapter Seven. Brands for the Burning: Intel and Google
Chapter Eight. From Godzilla to Gecko: The Long, Slow Extinction of Novell
Chapter Nine. Ripping PR Yarns: Bill Gates, Marc Andreessen, Steve Jobs Disease, and Assorted Steve Jobs Wannabees
Chapter 10. Purple Haze All Through My Brain: The Internet and ASP Busts
Chapter 11. Thanks Dan Lyons! Now Everyone over 40 Really Is Unemployable in High-Tech: Dan Lyons, HubSpot, and Ageism
Chapter 12. A Lifetime of Regret: The 2015 Steve Jobs Movie
Chapter 14. The Social Ministries Google: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Various Other Enforcers
Chapter 15. On Avoiding Stupidity
Glossary of Terms
On October 11, 2011, Steve Jobs, as we all must do, passed away from this earth from complications caused by pancreatic cancer. While he died much younger and sooner than he, his friends and family, and most of the general public would have wished, Jobs had the satisfaction of knowing he left this life at the very peak of his career and impact on high-tech. When he took complete control of Apple in in 1997 (Jobs during his first turn at Apple was kept on a leash and was never the company’s CEO), Apple seemed to be past its peak and sales and revenue were sliding. In fact, under Jobs the slide continued, with revenue declining from around $11 billion in 1997 to $6 billion in 2001, despite some widely heralded marketing campaigns and huge media coverage of the return of Apple’s prodigal son. It seemed that Jobs was no magic man despite his outsized reputation.
Jobs failure to return Apple to computing’s pinnacle of power was not surprising, and I wrote about it fairly extensively in the second edition of Stupidity. Here’s what I said in 2005:
Why not take a stab at planning to put Apple back on the throne from which it once reigned microcomputing 25 years ago? After all, everyone is bored with Windows. Linux, the only possible other competitor, has all the computing charm of a diesel truck and requires a degree in computer science to install. And everything the Apple Fairy Godmother said is true, and she left out some hard revenue facts besides. In 2001, Apple’s annual revenue hovered around $6 billion. In 2005, Apple sold more than 32 million iPods, and more one billion songs were downloaded from its iTunes service by the winter of 2006. Yearly revenues from 2005 were almost $14 billion with more than a billion of that being profit…
… Apple’s growth is coming from consumer electronics, not computers, and no one on this planet has ever figured out how to take a company from 4% market share to industry dominance in the face of an entrenched competitor determined to defend its turf. Apple came close to industry supremacy in the early 1970s and 1980s, but this was before IBM woke up. And despite Microsoft’s creeping development of the senescence that inevitably afflicts all megasized corporations, unless a big meteor hits Redmond and Bellevue, Apple cannot hope Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates are going to stand idly by while Apple lops off significant amounts of market share and money from Microsoft.
This was exactly right. Apple has never come close to regaining its former prominence in manufacturing and selling laptop, desktop, and server systems, nor does it any longer want to. Beginning with the iPod, Jobs “pivoted” (this is the new hot “wonder term” that’s replaced the more prosaic “do something else”) into consumer electronics, the iPod being succeeded by the iPhone, Jobs’ piece de resistance, and as his encore, the iPad, computing’s most successful tablet. The Macintosh is now an insignificant part of Apple’s revenues, and as I pointed out earlier, the company is in the process of preparing to leave that aspect of its business behind via a transition strategy.
The result of Jobs’ strategy took Apple to 2011 revenues of $108 billion. No turnaround of such a magnitude had ever been seen before in business anywhere and we may never see such an achievement again. The market made up its mind. Jobs was indeed magic, and high-tech CEOs everywhere decided they wanted to transfer some of his marketing and sales fairy dust to themselves.
There was of course no practical way this could be accomplished; while the Catholic Church and Buddhist denominations encourage the collection of physical remainders of saints under the label of “holy relics,” Jobs and his family had no interest in this sort of thing.
Another option was available, and that was “sympathetic magic.” Sympathetic magic works under the assumption if you behave, dress, and can even resemble a magical person, some measure of their spirit will transfer to you. Unfortunately, the process is fraught with challenges. We’ve already seen what happened when Jeff Bezos built a special workshop just like Steve Jobs’ original “Macintosh Pirate HQ” and attempted to recreate the magic of the original Mac rollout. Ugh. The failure came about because while Bezos had the lab, he completely lacked Jobs’ understanding of product positioning.
The industry's Bible of on how to avoid your company and/or startup. Required reading for anyone in high-tech!
The vital companion to the Positioning Workbook! Self-paced and comprehensive, the video guides you through the industry's most successful and field-tested methodology for positioning your product and ensuring your marketing can reach your sales and revenue goals.
A vital guide that ensures you nail your product positioning before you release your product or found your company. If you fail to properly execute your product positioning, every other aspect of your marketing will collapse!
Follow the adventures of Nate Pennington and Ignacio Loehman as they ideate, innovate, and growth hack their startup with the help of Steve Jobs. (Well, at least a part of him.)