Ina Fried

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The Three Irreplaceable Qualities of Steve Jobs

Apple’s offices are filled with brilliant, talented and creative people. The company’s products are great because of the contributions of thousands of people, not just because of the vision of Steve Jobs.

The company also has in place long roadmaps and the strategies on how to execute them. Doubtless, there are products we’ve never heard of in categories in which we didn’t know Apple had designs.

That said, there are three key qualities (at least) of Steve Jobs that will be hard — if not impossible — to duplicate.

1) The consummate salesman

The most visible element of Jobs’s success was his ability to convince people that they absolutely had to have whatever it was that he had to offer.

There is a reason that his keynotes were said to be surrounded by a “reality distortion field.” When Jobs showed something, one was convinced that nothing like it had ever before existed and nothing else could be its substitute.

In fact, Jobs was so good at selling things, that it was often initially hard to tell the hits from the rare misses. That’s because throngs rushed to buy almost every product the day it went on sale. It was only if sales dipped the second quarter that it was clear that the product was more Cube than iPad.

2) The incredible judge of consumer behavior

Other companies do focus groups to ask what customers want. That never worked for Steve Jobs, because he knew what people wanted long before they themselves knew.

Computers came in one color before the iMac. There were digital music players before the iPod, but none that the masses wanted. One need only look at the face of the smartphone industry before the iPhone and after to see his vision and impact there.

3) The perfectionist

Attention to detail has long been a hallmark of Apple’s products and much of that can be attributed to the relentless focus of Steve Jobs. Jobs pushed himself hard and everyone around him hard. The result was that workers were pushed to deliver things that they themselves didn’t think possible.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”