iPhone in three sizes

iPhone in 3 sizes, small, medium, large – source techcrunch.com

The pundits criticize Apple for falling behind, theorizing in the absence of their spiritual leader, Steve Jobs, that innovation and that certain quality he brought, is now fading. The market is becoming anxious with Apple, sans Jobs. They believe that the miracle rise of Apple was embodied solely in one man. There was complete confidence and ease that Apple could do no wrong when Jobs was alive, even on his death bed the confidence was strong. And the sentiment lingered almost exactly a full year after his death, the year of morning.

But that sentiment is fading, the reality distortion field has weakened, if not completely gone. Was it the man, or was it his ideas that made Apple great?When a man dies, do his ideas go with him? Ideas do not have an expiration date coincident with the life of a person.

Steve spent 14 years at the helm, post his return from exile, where he took on the role of a messiah, a buddha, a man who walked the simple path. Was he a saint, hell no. Was he a tyrant, absolutely not. Was he brutal to work for? Often yes, but measured. Then how did Jobs imbue his philosophy upon the company? How did he get tens of thousands in this mammoth company to act as though they were all part of a small hungry startup, how did he get people he never met to embrace his philosophy of simplicity. He certainly couldn’t be there to mentor every employee, he couldn’t even come within 5 levels of most of the minions.

Kaizen

The philosophy embodied by Apple, embrace good change

The answer is simple, like the Jobs philosophy. He led by example, he worked within small focused groups, and drilled his philosophy into them for 14 years, these disciples of the top team cascaded the Jobs message and his ways down the chain, until it reached every person. And every person from the bottom up is empowered with the tools to improve upon Apple operations. This is the embodiment of a Kaizen lean company. Kaizen is Japanese for good change, it is the underlying philosophy of lean business processes, such as those practiced and originally introduced to the world by Toyota’s 14 principles, called the Toyota Production System (TPS).

The key to Apple’s continued success and domination is to stay true to the philosophy and values of Kaizen. And while I have been critical of Tim Cook for not being the spiritual and charismatic leader that Jobs was, there is one thing for certain, he is the epitome of a Kaizen master. Jobs was both a polished showman, and a Kaizen master; and perhaps that’s too much to expect from Tim, but also not a fatal flaw, not by a long shot. Being a showman and a great team leader are not synonymous. The showman was for, well, show. What jobs did internally was lead the Kaizen way, and his own personal brand of simplicity.

Insanely Simple

Insanely Simple by Ken Segall

Ken Segall recently published a book about Steve Jobs and his philosophy of simple, called “Insanely Simple.” And though Ken never mentioned the words lean or kaizen, the philosophy he described in his book that was part of the Jobs way, is exactly that. Segall wrote that Jobs has a manifesto of sorts, although it is not clear that it was every formally written down, because I suspect that Jobs would have viewed that like rules to follow, and too big company-like. A kaizen company doesn’t need rules posted to the wall, they need inspiration and empowerment, and this is what sets Apple apart from all others.

I have often heard within companies I consult for, when doing company wide process assessments, that they would like to be more Apple-like. But they think they can get there by adopting only part way; this principle or that method. What they don’t understand is that to be lean, to be like Apple, to be Kaizen, is not a part-time venture, it is all or nothing. It is like a glass of sparkling spring water, clear and good. But if you put just the tiniest bit of sludge in it, perhaps only 1 part to a 100,000 then the whole glass of water is ruined. When you look at decisions to be made, and one way is Kaizen and the other is not, if you choose to compromise, then you choose not to be good at some level.

Kaizen is all or nothing, Apple is all or nothing. Apple is focused on doing what they do best, and that is to make the best possible products, using their kaizen principles. Not the principles of pundits. No compromises. Apple has a schedule that has been set in motion, they are true to that course. I suspect we shall see in due time, on Apple time, what that roadmap looks like.

When Apple comes out with a bigger iPhone, and I am sure they will, it will be game-over for Samsung. Samsung is producing phablet phones at a frantic pace. They are hoping one of many sizes they produce will be the iPhone kil…no, the Apple killer. At last count they have 15 or more phone sizes, Apple has 2, and at some point in the near future Apple will probably have 3 different sizes, although I suspect the original iPhone 3.5 inch screen will get deprecated, so back to 2 sizes; the 4 inch and a 5 inch. If Apple chooses to release more sizes, then each phone will have purpose and utility, it will be well thought out and will establish a standard for others to follow. Form will follow function. No more, no less. SImple.

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  • William Pellegrini

    i had a land lord come into my shop one day a mr Mendelson a chess master and kosher butcher by trade. he said to me “So Bill how many people you got working for you ” i replied “5 mr Mendelson ” “So how many fingers you got on your 2 hands ?” i said “ten ” he said “and how many fingers have your workers got?” i said “fifty Mr Mendelson .Whats your point? ” He told me “when ten fingers work… fifty fingers watch” Jobs understood this management principle that the managers job is to manage the workers not do the work itself he empowered people to make decisions and criticized their choices to make them refine their ideas in a crucible of fire. the same people who did the actual work are still there and Steve’s voice is in their heads on every decision. I am sure Steve used the carrot and the stick in equal proportions ,people remember the stick more than the carrots though. John Ives is a treasure. His spare esthetic will permeate apples designs and challenge the engineers for decades to come. as long as the ceo delegates authority and lets people do their jobs every thing will be fine. I am worried about the firing of the map guy the maps are great and wonderful for a 1.o version it was a mistake to use him as a scapegoat he d=should have been told to just fix it and quick and get on with work. i think cook learned from that mistake . I’m staying long on apple.

  • Constable Odo

    I really don’t understand why there is this constant media blitz about the death of Apple due to Android devices. Regardless of the mega-collapse of Apple’s stock, the company still is making plenty of money and has more cash than any other public company on the planet. A company like that isn’t going down easy just because the news media says so. Consumers are still buying Apple products and Apple is still building more retail stores. The news media talks about innovation being lost at Apple just because Samsung is building double-size smartphones. Any company can build bigger smartphones.

    Apple has the means and know-how to match Samsung smartphones as far as display size is concerned but they choose not to do so. Apple only has to do one thing and that’s sell a hell of a lot of iPhones of any size. Apple could theoretically build cheap, plastic smartphones too, but most likely won’t. Porsche doesn’t build cars to compete with Kia. Sure, I’d like to see Apple flood the market with millions of crappy smartphones just to shut up those jackass analysts who think they know everything, but Apple knows better. I’d like to see Apple destroy all of its rivals but Apple can’t possibly build that many smartphones in a short time and still keep quality high. Let the news media keep saying Apple is doomed, but Apple isn’t dead until they sell their last smartphone.

    Wall Street can cheat Apple shareholders all they want but that still isn’t going to bring down the company. Just because hedge funds pump up small companies value by inflating their P/Es to the sky that doesn’t mean Apple is going to stop making real money. It’s true the hedge funds control the stock market, but one day they’re going to run out of smoke and mirrors and maybe companies with real fundamental value will win out.

  • Howard

    Why the media obsession ?
    The Media is a business in and of itself, remember.
    How does it generate revenue ? News.
    How does it generate news ? it needs things to change.
    Up needs to become down. Good needs to become bad. Success needs to become failure. The Media drives this process as an income generating strategy, and always has done.

  • cabrach

    I think that the company has moved away somewhat from the clarity that Jobs put into employment standards. My recollection is that, under Jobs, the employment contracts were simple and tough, without the fancy salaries and termination clauses that permeate the employment contracts of Wall Street and the big corporations. I fear that, along with dividends and buy backs, Cook may moving towards big corporation standards for senior employees.

  • OviP

    Well said Ernie. I recommend everyone read the book. It will help understand whconsumers fall in love with Apple products. A simple and well executed life is much more enjoyable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tao-Jones/100001257981119 Tao Jones

    anybody who thinks jobs was infallible need only to recall the apple “LC ” a predecessor to the preforma pizza box design (LC stood for low cost ) . Steve bothered by fan noise decided the machine did not need a fan. the heating and cooling of the machine started to break solder joints on the motherboard and a tech memo went out suggesting lifting the broken machines 18 inches and dropping them in the hopes of reseating the components . clearly a bad implementation of a good idea that culminated in the fan free macs we use today. when things don’t work out quite as expected you can chalk it up to failure or use it to point you in the direction that will solve the problem.Steve sent his people back to the drawing board again and again until they figured out not only a practical solution but an elegant one. every student that gets a test score of say 70% should use it to point themselves to the 30 % of the material the test shows they don’t know. thats how you get insanely great. the problems and lessons learned about customer relations and problems to your brand producing the cheaper pro forma series i believe was not lost on apple and helps them resist the clamor for a commodity priced item. stay the course mr cook

  • Delway Burton

    Yes, Apple has been unique, but it does not operate in a vacuum. As technology advances and expands, the effort needed to advance it further becomes much more complex, slower, and costly. Medicine is an example. When penicillin and sulfa were introduced, the number of lives saved numbered in the millions. Eighty years later evolution has produced bacteria resistant to the hundreds of antibiotics available. The hardware/software behind the ultimate personal information, entertainment, and amusement machine have been available for some time, but the content broadcast by this machine has gotten exponentially larger and fractionated by ownership & rights, to the point of despondency. It also changes on a daily basis. It is forever temporally dynamic. Despite all of this confusion, Apple’s focus always be its touchstone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steffen-Jobbs/100001574843303 Steffen Jobbs

    Who determines who is leading? Wall Street? Consumers? Tech pundits? For all intents and purposes Android is considered the leader now because of its overwhelming sales numbers on the planet. Google had always set out to have Android become the #1 people’s mobile OS on the planet. Apple is falling way, way behind in sales and market share when compared to Android and market share has always been the yardstick for who is leading (or winning).

    Now, everyone wants to believe that large displays are the most wanted feature of a smartphone. Apple doesn’t have one. Samsung’s smartphones are designed with the kitchen sink installed. Apple’s iPhone doesn’t come with a kitchen sink so it’s claimed to be outdated and practically useless by the people who follow the cutting edge of mobile hardware and software. However, what difference does that make? So what if Apple has fallen behind the curve. As long as there are plenty of consumers still buying iPhones, Apple will survive. Only Wall Street says Apple absolutely has to keep pace with Android smartphone sales but in reality Apple’s goals don’t require it.

    It’s always presumed that some intense mobile war is going on with the iPhone vs every other mobile platform and Apple is losing based on market share numbers. I’m sure Apple holding 15% to 20% global market share will keep Apple in the black for all time to come, but that’s not good enough for the greedy. There’s always this undercurrent that whoever holds most market share is the leader and is therefore the best. Android fanbois believe that the more complicated and featured an OS is, the better. Tech-heads hate simple things designed for average consumers. So if Apple decides to keep iOS simple, it will automatically be considered old-fashioned or falling behind.

    I remember back when Nokia was making those high-end smartphones and they had all those hardware features but they were buried into the OS so deeply consumers had a hard accessing those features. I’m not particularly sure why it’s so important to have hundreds of features built into the smartphone OS because it becomes a nightmare for the casual user or the average non-tech smartphone user. It’s only the tech-heads who are constantly complaining iOS is outdated. They seem to get off on lots of features. I hope Apple keeps iOS really simple for most users and not get carried away on trying to please tech-dorks who are never quite satisfied with anything. Samsung is trying to build smartphones to perfectly suit EVERYBODY. I honestly don’t think that is Apple’s goal.

    • http://apple-investor.com appleinvestor

      Great points! Apple doesn’t do focus groups, they don’t copy other manufacturers, they march to their own beat, and no other. Apple’s sole purpose is to create great products with features people will actually use. Design simplicity is elegant design, is superior design.