Steve Jobs aimed Apple at greatness, not profits

An article from last August says Steve Jobs made Apple great by "ignoring profit." Since Apple is hugely profitable, what's the lesson?

Clayton Christensen's "Jobs made Apple great by ignoring profit" has a simple point: "the pursuit of profit – something that Wall Street pushes so hard – is what leaves companies open to being displaced." Companies focus on their most profitable products and customers to make their quarterly numbers, leave openings for competitors, and soon have neither big profits nor big customers.

Yet Jobs focused on being "insanely great" and other ideas antithetical to the modern MBA, and created what has become one of the most profitable companies in history ($100 billion in cash). Jobs could ignore Wall Street pushing for quick results, and introduce products like the iPad which may cut into their own laptop sales, and create markets (iPod and iTunes) out of nothing. Of course, the high prices and huge margins on their products says someone at Apple knows how to maintain profits, even if that's a secondary goal.

Great analysis

The way I see it is that because he wants to be profitable by innovating and delivering great products, he was aware that he should not let innovation be hampered by profit motives.

kokey on news.ycombinator.com

Hopefully some CEOs will read it and learn from it but probably not.

itot on reuters.com

Its a good point that profit was never Steve Jobs’s motivating force.

fatima on room4truth.com

Its easier to say this but developing a product (iPhone) which could easily eat up the momentum of your best selling product (iPod) is a huge gamble by all means.

neebz on news.ycombinator.com

Flawed analysis

How is profit not a factor if they chose to assemble products where labor is cheapest?

gowejifw on reuters.com

When Jobs came back to Apple, actually everything he did was about getting the business back into profit. He slashed the R&D budget, dramatically reduced the number of product lines [bye bye Newton, adios cloning the OS], and hacked away at the cost base.

simon_waldman on reuters.com

Jobs loved profit. He understood that the best products, marketed properly, can produce extraordinary profits.

shingen on news.ycombinator.com

Love for Apple

All I know is that the users I know seem to be universally devoted.

fatima on room4truth.com

Apple seems to me to have two brains: the business brain and the creative brain. In most companies the business stifles innovation.

Thebigapp on reuters.com

Has Steve Jobs success encouraged other, less innovative, CEOs to ignore good advice as they pursue their great vision? Time will tell.

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