If there’s been one topic of conversation that has been a given since WWDC this year, the iPhone 5 launch this fall, and the iPad mini it’s been that Apple has lost its innovative edge. Yeah we talk about how cool the iPhone 5 and iPad mini are, but as we’ve said before—they are iterations of a successful thing. In a short chat with TC’s Andrew Keen, Woz shares some insights into Apple, and how he thinks Steve Jobs didn’t need to be a “rugged bastard” for Apple to succeed.
Let’s start off with this statement from Chris Matyszczyk and let that sink in:
It’s something that might almost seem obvious. But it takes someone of Steve Wozniak’s wonderful unedited disposition to say it: Microsoft might currently be more forward-thinking than Apple.
There is a truism that just because your enemy or competitor is quiet, doesn’t mean they aren’t busy. Woz is probably right, Microsoft has been busy. I think they have been taking the last few years working on all kinds of skunk works projects, just to see what might bear fruit (wow, mixed metaphor anyone?). When your back is against the wall, necessity isn’t just the mother of invention, it’s the mother of “hell bent we’re going to do this…”, and I think Microsoft’s back has been against the wall for sometime. Windows 7 was thankfully better than Vista and Window 8 looks pretty cool, but it’s still Windows. Those were the “must do” projects for Microsoft, but what about the “while no one is looking, let’s do this…” I think we can see hints of this in Steve Ballmer’s recent chat with Reid Hoffman, Samsung and Apple are battling each other and no one is paying attention to Microsoft. The perfect time to invent something that could very well blow minds, don’t you think? This all has Woz worried (and rightly so):
“It worries me because I love Apple,” Woz told TechCrunch. “It worries me if Apple were to lose ground because they were making the same things they know how to make.” “Improving is not Apple-style innovation,” he added.
Woz talked about the dark days at Apple when they just iterated Macs, but innovation was gone. That nearly killed Apple (I wish I had bought stock then), then Steve Jobs came back and Apple got back on course, the course to the place where it is now. This makes me wonder if Tim Cook should try to woo Woz back to Apple for a time. Maybe Woz can shake things up a bit. I know Woz probably isn’t interested, but…heck Apple is facing a time when we haven’t seen a “wow amazing” thing in a good while. On Scott Forstall’s departure, Woz didn’t have nearly as much to say, but he did comment on the well known prickliness of Steve Jobs:
But he did say: “I don’t believe Steve [Jobs] had to be as much of a real rugged bastard, put people down and make them feel demeaned.”
This is, again, why I think Tim Cook is trying to redefine Apple as a place where being a genius doesn’t give you the right to be an ass, and why I think that’s the right approach. Watch the 7 min video with Woz, it’s good stuff. And oh so Woz.