Steve Jobs at 44


    Steve Jobs

    Differences and Similarities Between Apple and Pixar
    Apple turns out many products--a dozen a year; if you count all the minor ones, probably a hundred. Pixar is striving to turn out one a year. But the converse of that is that Pixar's products will still be used fifty years from now, whereas I don't think you'll be using any product Apple brings to market this year fifty years from now. Pixar is making art for the ages. Kids will be watching Toy Story in the future. And Apple is much more of a constant race to continually improve things and stay ahead of the competition.

    His Role At Pixar
    At Pixar my job is to help build the studio and recruit people and help create a situation where they can do the best work of their lives. And to some degree it's the same at Apple. But at Pixar, I don't direct the movies, whereas at Apple probably, if I had to pick a role out of a film production, I'd be the director. So it's a different job for me too, and I'm very conscious of that. My job at Pixar is to help manage the studio processes. But I don't say, "Well, I think we should have that character do that." I do give notes, just like other people do. There was one situation, for the first time, about three months ago, where I gave the best note. Which is really good, actually, because there were some very smart people there. But that will hardly ever happen.

    Getting Sarah Mcarthur to Pixar
    Ed [Catmull] is a genius for technology and John [Lassiter] is a genius for creative. Sarah McArthur runs all of production. We never had great production. I would always call Peter Schneider, who was then running Disney's feature animation unit, and say, "Can't you spare one of your second-tier producers to come and run production here, because we really need somebody." And they could never spare anybody. It's hard because there are so few people with experience in this area. But one day he called me up and said, "I can't believe I'm making this call, but I have the ultimate production leader for you." I said, "Really. Who's that?" He said, "Sarah McArthur, she's our VP of production for feature animation. She is the most senior production executive at the Walt Disney Company for animation." I said, "It's not April 1st, Peter." He said, "Well, she's going to leave us. She's going to move to Northern California for personal reasons, she has to, and I'd rather lose her to you than to anyone else." She is incredible. She was executive producer of "The Lion King." She's the best in the business. These movies are $100 million projects. We have a few going on at any given time. Most of the people at the studio actually work, in terms of chain of command, for Sarah. In terms of day-to-day trains running on time, it"s Sarah McArthur.

    Apple's Product Lines
    There were 15 product lines when I got here. It was incredible. You couldn"t figure out what to buy. I started asking around, and nobody could explain it to me. This year we updated the PowerBook, in May, the iBook in July, the G4, replacing the G3, in August at Seybold, and now the iMacs in October. I added up the time: in 148 days, we"ve completely changed every product. [He laughs.] We"ve been working too hard.

    Apple's Vertical Integration
    Apple is really a serious player in this stuff now. When we first got here two years ago, Apple was being bombarded by criticism that it was the last vertically integrated PC company, and management should break it up. Our competitors--the Gateways, Dells and Compaqs--they"re really distribution companies. They take technology from Microsoft and Intel, package it up in the Far East and ship it out. And what determines whether they're successful or not is their distribution model and their logistical efficiency. They don't engineer anything. The innovation in that business has really slowed down dramatically, or even come to a halt. You get incremental innovation: the disk drive gets bigger for the same price. But what's really changed? Nothing. Nothing in scope--what's it going to do for you? Apple's the only company left in this industry that designs the whole widget. Hardware, software, developer relations, marketing. It turns out that that, in my opinion, is Apple's greatest strategic advantage. We didn't have a plan, so it looked like this was a tremendous deficit. But with a plan, it's Apple's core strategic advantage, if you believe that there's still room for innovation in this industry, which I do, because Apple can innovate faster than anyone else.

    I'll give you an example: when we shipped the iMac, we decided to go to this new IO scheme called USB. Right after we shipped it I got a call from a very senior executive at Intel. He said, "You know who invented USB, don't you?" I said, "No, who?" He said, "Intel. Five years ago. And we've been trying to get the PC industry to use it for five years, and in literally 30 days you have jumped so far ahead of us it's unbelievable. It was like trying to herd cats."

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