Steven Paul Jobs: The Master of Product Innovation and Evolution

 

Leading companies that consistently produce the very best products for consumers and businesses rigorously plan and execute core product strategies that enable them to accelerate profitable product innovation on a global scale more effectively than competitors. By doing so, such companies create durable competitive advantages, or economic moats, that make it possible for them to reliably deliver superior value to their customers and shareholders over time.

 

In the history of the technology industry, there have, in fact, been very few firms that have reliably delivered superior value to customers and shareholders over a protracted period of time. Some examples include IBM in the 1980s, Microsoft in the 1990s, and Apple in the 2000s.

 

The late Steve Jobs was the quintessential master of product innovation. From the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, Jobs and his core product teams at Apple were very successful introducing highly innovative products, such as the Apple I, Apple II, and the Apple Macintosh, and doing so profitably. What Jobs and Apple failed to do, however, was to accelerate the profitable evolution of Apple's product innovations on a global scale.

The Lesson of a Lifetime for Jobs

Because Apple failed to scale quickly in the mid-1980s, it gave Microsoft, IBM, and the IBM-compatible clone vendors the opportunity to enter the personal computer market and rewrite the rules of the game in their favor. Specifically, these new competitors were able to transform the industry from a high-margin, moderate-volume business to a low-margin, large-volume business. Any vendor who could not scale rapidly enough to compete under these new competitive rules was at a severe disadvantage. Apple was one such vendor, and in 1985, due to poor business performance and
internal management conflicts, Jobs was ousted from the company that he co-founded.

Our personal view on this matter is that Jobs never forgave himself and his senior management team at the time for missing the scaling phase of the personal computer (PC) industry. As a result, he made it his singular mission to go "thermonuclear" on all of the companies responsible for stealing his original ideas and vision for the PC. Given this, if the personal computer industry were to ever make a significant platform transition, Jobs vowed in his own mind, we believe,
to not make the same mistake twice.

Jobs Identifies, Captures, and Rides the "Post-PC" Tidal Wave

Steve Jobs did, indeed, spot the next big wave. He pioneered the perfect innovation to ride the wave. He rapidly evolved his innovation to capture the high-end consumer market with premium products. He rapidly scaled his innovation to capture the low-end consumer market with affordable products. He leveraged Apple's market leadership position to extract massive profits from the new wave and its entire supply chain.

When competitors entered and threatened his market leading position, he let them think they had a chance to compete and take at least a modicum of market share, but then, much to their dismay, he introduced new products so thin, light, seductive, and easy to use that the competition immediately fell significantly behind. As a competitive final blow, he threw down the gauntlet and made these new gems so affordable that consumers snapped them up at astounding rates all over the globe. Competitors fell behind on innovation, behind on evolution, behind on scale, and many were forced to run their operations at a loss! Can you guess which specific Apple products we are referring to in this section? The answer to this question will be clear as we examine the history of Apple's strategic product roadmaps.


Without Steve Jobs, Can Apple Do It Again?

In the sections that follow, we will examine the strategic product innovation and evolution strategies used by Steve Jobs and his loyal and dedicated product development and marketing teams at Apple to capture and dominate the media player market, with the Apple iPod; the smartphone market, with the Apple iPhone; and the tablet market, with the Apple iPad.  We will ultimately seek to answer the fundamental question:

 

  • Will Apple be able to accelerate profitable product innovation faster than its competitors going forward, as it has done in the recent past?

 

The answer to this key question is likely to be of interest to a nontrivial number and wide variety of global stakeholders, including:

 

  1. Apple consumer customers,
  2. Apple business customers,
  3. Apple investors and shareholders,
  4. Apple supply chain partners,
  5. Apple retail partners,
  6. Apple media and content partners,
  7. Apple software application (app) developers,
  8. Apple employees, 
  9. Apple financial and industry analysts, and
  10. Apple competitors, such as Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, Amazon, and Research in Motion.

 

In addition, media professionals, technology historians, business school students, and MBA students may also be curious.

Strategic Innovation Framework Applied to Apple Products

To help answer the fundamental question above with an elevated degree of rigor, we shall employ elements of the Multidimensional Strategic Product Innovation Framework, summarized in the diagram below.

The innovation framework is represented by a two-by-two matrix containing four quadrants, as shown above. Each quadrant represents a unique product or set of products designed for and delivered to a specific customer target market. Product categories include innovative products, premium products, and low-cost products. Market categories include status market, luxury market, and mass market.

Companies, such as those mentioned in the opening paragraphs above, that have been successful in accelerating profitable product innovation faster than competitors typically move through the matrix of the innovation framework via specific pathways, as show in the
Multidimensional Strategic Product Evolution Pathways diagram below.

The two fundamental evolution pathways employed by such companies are represented by the orange path and blue path, as shown above.

The Orange Path: Jobs' Preferred Path for Maximizing User Adoption

The orange path represents a core product innovation and evolution strategy that begins with the introduction of a highly innovative new product designed and delivered to status-oriented customers; progresses with the introduction of a lower-cost product variant designed and delivered to price-sensitive mass market customers; and concludes with the introduction of a premium product variant designed and delivered to aspirational mass-market customers. The orange path can be thought of as a core product innovation and evolution strategy for penetrating the total addressable market from below.
As we will see in the ensuing sections, Jobs and team employed this strategy with the Apple iPod mini and the Apple iPad mini to maximize user adoption in order to defend against encroaching competitive threats.

The Blue Path: Jobs' Preferred Path for Maximizing Product Profitability

The blue path represents a core product innovation and evolution strategy that, like the orange path, begins with the introduction of a highly innovative new product designed and delivered to status-oriented customers; then, unlike the orange path, it progresses with the introduction of a premium product variant designed and delivered to luxury-oriented customers; and finally it concludes with the introduction of a lower-cost variant of the premium product designed and delivered to aspirational mass-market customers. The blue path can be thought of as a core product innovation and evolution strategy for penetrating the total addressable market from above. As we will see in the ensuing sections, Jobs employed this strategy with Apple iPod, Apple iPhone, and Apple iPad products to maximize product profitability across an extended product lifecycle.


Macro-Level Roadmap for the Post-PC Era

Before we begin our journey to map out multidimensional strategic product roadmaps for each of the post-PC devices in Apple's current and possibly future product portfolio, we need to place the complete suite of PC devices and post-PC devices in a unified macro-level framework, which we call the Multidimensional Strategic Roadmap to the Post-PC Era, as shown in the diagram below.

In general, mass-market screen sizes for the PC Era range from 15 inches to 30 plus inches for desktop form factors; 11 inches to 17 plus inches for laptop form factors; and 7 inches to 11 inches for netbook form factors. In contrast, mass-market screen sizes for the Post-PC Era range from less than 7 inches to 11 inches for tablet form factors; 3 inches to 5 inches for smartphone form factors; 1 inch to 5 inches for media-player form factors; and 0.5 inch to 2 plus inches for wearable form factors, including wearable wristwatch, wearable eyeglasses or inocles, and embedded form factors, all of which are positioned to the left of the traditional PC, as depicted in the diagram above. The Post-PC Era also spans mass-market television screen sizes ranging from less than 30 inches to greater than 60 inches, including standard TVs, high-definition (HD) TVs, ultra-definition (UHD) TVs, and extreme-definition TVs, all of which are positioned to the right of the traditional PC, as shown above.

For simplicity, convenience, and future reference, all of the mass-market screen sizes for the various classes of PC and post-PC devices described above are summarized in the PC and Post-PC Screen-Size Companion Diagram below. Screens for each device class are drawn to scale and aspect ratios are maintained, providing a powerful visual summary of the entire wearable, mobile, and non-mobile PC and post-PC device continuum.

The Companion Diagram above is designed specifically for use with the Macro-Level Multidimensional Strategic Roadmap for the Post-PC Era presented previously. By combining the two diagrams, one can quickly see that the post-PC world is vast when mapped and projected into the continuum of screen sizes. For example, the wearable and mobile portion of the post-PC world contains devices with screen sizes that range from near zero inches up to 11 inches, and the non-mobile portion of the post-PC world contains devices with screen sizes that range from less than 30 inches to over 60 inches. Moreover, once PC and laptops evolve to have many of the innovative features of post-PC devices, the continuum will be unbroken and continuous spanning from near zero inches to over 60 inches in size!

Regarding market segments, the traditional PC industry serves global consumers across socioeconomic strata; small, medium, large, and enterprise businesses; local, regional, and national governments; and K-12 public and private schools, as well as community, undergraduate, and graduate colleges and universities. While the modern post-PC industry began by
serving relatively high-end global consumers, it has rapidly expanded it market footprint. It now serves global consumers across socioeconomic strata and is quickly penetrating small, medium, large, and enterprise businesses; local, regional, and national governments; and K-12 public and private schools, as well as community, undergraduate, and graduate colleges and universities.

In short, traditional PC vendors are under attack in all of their core market segments by modern post-PC vendors. Moreover, as illustrated in the Post-PC Roadmap diagram above, these traditional PC vendors are being actively and rapidly flanked on the left and on the right by modern Post-PC vendors offering medium, small, micro, and nano screen devices on the left side of the traditional PC and medium, large, extra-large, and extreme screen devices on the right side of the traditional PC. Given the potentially vast reach, scope, and breadth of modern Post-PC vendors, traditional PC vendors will need to quickly adapt and aggressively respond to these new competitive threats to their core businesses, otherwise they risk significant erosion in market share and market position over time.


Journey into Steve's Mind for Insight into the Post-PC Era

With the Strategic Innovation Framework and the Macro-Level Roadmap presented above serving as our background, we are now ready to begin our journey into the micro-level multidimensional strategic product innovation roadmaps for each individual product in the Apple product portfolio. Specifically, we will apply the Strategic Innovation Framework to current Apple products, including Apple iPod (leading media player), the Apple iPhone (one of the leading smartphones), and the Apple iPad (leading tablet), as well as potential future Apple products, including wearables and high-definition televisions. We will examine each of these strategic roadmaps in detail in order to gain insight into Steve's thinking in the past, as well as what he might be thinking today if he were still with us.

Steve passionately believed that there would be an "explosion of post-pc devices" that would benefit an enormous population of consumers around the world.  He also firmly believed that this massive new wave of post-PC devices would relegate traditional PCs to be more "like trucks" than cars, in that only a relatively small fraction of the population ever really needs to own one, since most users will be just as well served by a simpler special-purpose post-PC device.

Steve commonly cited the Apple iPod, Apple iPhone, and Apple iPad as clear examples of post-PC devices. We believe that the core set of post-PC devices did not end there in Steve's mind. We believe that he had a clear vision for additional categories and classes of post-PC devices, including wearable computing devices, such as Internet-connected watches, perhaps to be branded as Apple iWatch, and Internet-connected eyeglasses, or inocles, perhaps to be branded as Apple iGlasses or Apple iGlass, for short, as well a Internet-connected televisions, perhaps to be branded as Apple iTV.

The prospective Apple branded variants
iGlass Air and iGlass Pro would be conceptually analogous to the Inocle branded variants Ino Air and Ino Pro. Moreover, just as the iGlass Air and iGlass Pro products would likely be served by the Siri assistant, the Ino Air and Pro products would be served by the Ino assistant, where Siri and Ino represent intelligent voice controlled personal assistants for Apple and Inocle products, respectively. Siri would also likely serve as the intelligent agent for Apple iTV and its prospective branded variants iTV mini, iTV Air, and iTV Pro.

Roadmaps for Post-PC Devices in Today's Multiscreen World

While our vision for the future may differ from Steve's vision in some respects, we believe that taking the time and effort to map out the innovation and evolution strategy for each post-pc device in the multi-screen world that we all live in today will be a worthy and fruitful endeavor. The resulting individual multidimensional product roadmaps from this effort may serve future generations as a potential educational construct for understanding one of the largest consumer product waves of our time.

The ultimate purpose of this work, however, may simply be to stand as a tribute to a gifted individual who started it all by having the courage to "think different" and the conviction to see it through from product concept in the mind of the innovator to product realization in the hands of the people who, in the final analysis, are still enamored with Steve's magical devices.

The Central Position and Strategic Role of the Cloud in the Post-PC Era

One additional concept that we must fully understand before we start our journey into multidimensional post-PC roadmaps is the strategic role and central position of cloud computing, or the cloud, in the post-PC era. The best way to visualize the importance of the cloud in today's multiscreen post-PC world is to start with the multidimensional roadmap for the post-PC era previously described as our foundation and then augment it with two additional dimensions, the dimension of application content, or apps, and the dimension of media content, or media, as depicted in the diagram below.

We call this diagram the Multidimensional Cloud Framework for the Post-PC Era. Dimensions include computing era (with discrete values PC era or post-PC era), device class (with discrete values wearables, phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, set tops, or televisions), device size (with semi-continuous values from less than one inch to over sixty inches), application type (with discrete values communication, social, productivity, creative, gaming, educational, commerce, utility, camera, browser, viewer, player, search, mapping, synchronization, travel, or payment), and media type (with discrete values document, email, contact, calendar, appointment, text message, photo, music, podcast, book, newspaper, magazine, music video, video, short film, television show, movie, or event).

By examining the cloud framework diagram above we can clearly see that the cloud acts as a central aggregator, processor, and distributor of both application content and media content. Cloud service providers, such
Apple with its Apple App Store, Apple iTunes Store, and Apple iCloud Service or Google with its Google Play Store and Google Drive Service, define, design, finance, build, operate, maintain, support, and offer post-PC Internet services, or simply cloud services, to their application content suppliers and partners and their media content suppliers and partners, referred to as application providers and media providers, respectively, as well as multiscreen empowered consumer users and business users.

Application providers, such as consumer software companies, business software companies, or independent software developers, supply, market, sell, distribute, update, advertise, and synchronize their post-PC software applications, or post-PC apps, via the cloud. Similarly, media providers, such as music record labels and publishers, independent music artists, news media organizations, television networks, movie studios, and sports media companies, and independent sports franchises, supply, market, sell, distribute, update, advertise, and synchronize their post-PC media content, or post-PC media, via the cloud. Multiscreen empowered users, including both consumer users and business users, discover, purchase, update, and synchronize their post-PC apps and post-PC media via the cloud.

Based on our discussion above, it is clear that the cloud occupies a central position in the post-PC era because it is strategically positioned at the nexus of application content providers, media content providers, multiscreen enabled consumer users, and multiscreen enabled business users, as depicted in the multidimensional cloud framework above. Specifically, the post-PC cloud enables:

 

  1. Post-PC application content providers to distribute their post-PC apps via the cloud.
  2. Post-PC media content providers to distribute their post-PC media via the cloud.
  3. Multiscreen consumer users to discover and purchase post-PC content via the cloud.
  4. Multiscreen business users to discover and purchase post-PC content via the cloud.
  5. Post-PC devices to automatically update and synchronize post-PC apps via the cloud.
  6. Post-PC devices to automatically update and synchronize post-PC media via the cloud.

 

In addition to its central position and strategic role as post-PC app and media content broker described above, the cloud itself is multidimensional, and provides consumer and business users with a plethora of rich, deep, and powerful Internet services that make life activities and work tasks a little easier, a little more efficient, and in some cases a lot more fun, as we shall briefly explore in the next section on killer post-PC cloud categories.

Killer Cloud Categories for the Multiscreen Post-PC World

In the previous sections, we described, defined, and discussed post-PC devices, post-PC apps, and post-PC media, as well as one of the core services provided by the cloud, that of the post-PC content broker. Now we must shift our focus and expand our viewpoint on the post-PC cloud to fully appreciate its unfathomably massive scale, as well as the full scope of its game changing capabilities. The best way to approach this is to identify the top-ten game changing cloud service categories for the multiscreen post-PC world and then organize them into a clear and concise visual representation, as depicted in the diagram below.

We call this diagram the Top-Ten Killer Cloud Categories for the Multiscreen Post-PC World, as it represents the set of game changing cloud service categories (killer categories) that improve the personal lives and working lives of multiscreen empowered consumer users and multiscreen empowered business users around the world by making their everyday activities and tasks easier, faster, more affordable, and more fun each hour of each and every day across all post-PC devices, including wearables, players, smartphones, tablets, and smart televisions, as well as all traditional PC devices, including laptops, desktops, and workstations.

By referring to the killer cloud category diagram, we see that it includes both post-PC consumer cloud service categories and post-PC enterprise cloud service categories, with post-PC cloud service categories that are more consumer oriented positioned toward the top of the diagram and those that are more enterprise focused positioned toward the bottom of the diagram. The complete list of the top ten post-PC cloud service categories for the multiscreen post-PC world is presented below as follows:

 

  1. Social Cloud Service Category
  2. Commerce Cloud Service Category
  3. Search Cloud Service Category
  4. Streaming Cloud Service Category
  5. Communication Cloud Service Category
  6. Synchronization Cloud Service Category
  7. Collaboration Cloud Service Category
  8. Big Data Cloud Service Category
  9. Integration Cloud Service Category
  10. Virtualization Cloud Service Category

 

Examining the list above, we can clearly see that the post-PC cloud has a definitive structure, one based on consumer and enterprise cloud categories.

Hierarchical Structure of the Post-PC Cloud


Having defined the top-level structure of the post-PC cloud in the previous section by identifying its constituent elements, or post-PC cloud categories, we are now ready to take the next step, which is to define the lower levels in the hierarchy of the post-PC cloud structure. To do so, we shall break down each top-level cloud category identified previously into its elemental parts. Specifically, for each cloud category, we shall identify one or more cloud services, and then once we have enumerated the individual cloud services within the cloud category, we shall identify one or more cloud companies providing the cloud service. Before we proceed, let us formally state our definition of the hierarchical structure of the post-PC cloud as follows:

 

  • Post-PC Cloud Structure
  • Post-PC Cloud Categories
  • Post-PC Cloud Services
  • Post-PC Cloud Companies

 

The structure of the post-PC cloud is based on post-PC cloud categories, which are each based on one or more post-PC cloud services, which are each provided by one or more post-PC cloud companies. Moreover, the game changing set of cloud categories, cloud services, and cloud companies, are referred to as killer cloud categories, killer cloud services, and killer cloud companies, respectively.

Killer Post-PC Cloud Services and Post-PC Cloud Companies

With the definition of the post-PC cloud structure presented above, we can now proceed to drill into each game changing cloud category to identify its underlying game changing cloud services and corresponding game changing cloud companies.

The social cloud category includes consumer focused social networking services, such as Facebook, professionally oriented social networking services, such as LinkedIn, microblogging services, such as Twitter and Sina Weibo, and social gaming services, such as multi-player games from Activision and Electronic Arts.

The commerce cloud category includes online shopping services, such as Amazon.com, online travel services, such as Priceline.com, and online payment services, such as PayPal.

The search cloud category includes Internet search services, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Baidu, Internet navigation services, such as Google Maps and Apple Maps, Internet review services, such as Yelp, Internet real estate services, such as Zillow, and voice search services, such as Apple Siri and Google Now.

The streaming cloud category includes professional video (TV shows and movies) streaming services, such as Netflix, user-generated video (home movies) streaming services, such as Google YouTube, audio (music) streaming services, such as Pandora, and educational (lectures) streaming services, such as Apple iTunes U.

The communication cloud category includes messaging services, such as Apple iMessage and Facebook Messenger, voice services, such as wireless services from Verizon, AT&T, and Vodafone, and video services, such as Microsoft Skype and Apple FaceTime.

The synchronization cloud category includes enterprise and consumer focused content synchronization services, such as Box, Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive, and Apple iCloud.

The collaboration cloud category includes enterprise customer relationship management services, such as Salesforce.com, enterprise human capital management services, such as Workday, enterprise resource planning services, such as NetSuite, Oracle, and SAP, enterprise and consumer productivity services, such as Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud, and enterprise and consumer electronic health record management services, such as Cerner.

The big data cloud category includes enterprise focused business intelligence services, such as those powered by SAP Business Objects and IBM Cognos, data warehousing and analytics services, such as those powered by Teradata Warehouses and Big Analytics Appliances, database services, such as those powered by Oracle Database and Microsoft SQL Server, storage services, such as those powered by EMC.

The integration cloud category includes enterprise focused middleware services, such as those powered by Oracle Fusion Middleware and IBM WebSphere, and system integration services, such as those from Accenture, IBM, and Infosys.

The virtualization cloud category includes hypervisor virtualization services, such as VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, application server virtualization services, such Oracle WebLogic, and database virtualization services, such as Oracle Database with Real Application Clustering (RAC).


Smashing Tradition and Defining the Core Competencies for the Post-PC Era

The ultimate question related to this discussion might be the following: "How does the post-PC cloud framework presented above tie back to Steve Jobs?" The answer is a bit subtle and rests on smashing traditional notions of hardware (Hewlett Packard) vs. software companies (Microsoft), system software companies (Oracle) vs. application software companies (SAP), application software companies (Microsoft) vs. Internet service companies (Google), and Internet service companies (Amazon) vs. media companies (Netflix or Disney). As you can see if you look closely enough at the multidimensional cloud framework for the post-PC era, the dominant company of the next wave of computing, the post-PC cloud wave, will be the singular company, the impossibly tight company, the heretofore unimaginable company that brings it all together in a simple, intuitive, and optimized package for its consumer and business customers across the globe.

While such a dominant post-PC firm may not yet exist today, we can infer from the multidimensional cloud framework presented above that such a singular firm, such a tight firm, such an unimaginable firm would possess core competencies in all of the following key areas:

 

  1. Post-PC Hardware
  2. Post-PC Semiconductors
  3. Post-PC System Software
  4. Post-PC Cloud Services
  5. Post-PC Applications
  6. Post-PC Media

 

As of this writing, it is a close race between Apple and the combination of Google and Samsung. Apple's core competencies are steeped in post-PC hardware, post-PC semiconductors, post-PC system software, and post-PC media partnerships. Samsung's core competencies are particularly strong in post-PC semiconductors, and post-PC hardware, while Google's core competencies are solid in post-PC cloud services, post-PC system software, and post-PC media partnerships. Both Apple and Google have strong post-PC application software ecosystems. The most significant risk to Apple is the rate at which it improves its core competencies in post-PC cloud services, while the most significant risk to the Google + Samsung alliance is the steadfastness of the alliance itself. Should the alliance between the two partners become strained or inconsistent in any manner, then it would be Apple's post-PC game to lose, signaling yet another, and perhaps the ultimate, post-PC victory for the late Steve Jobs.
 

Can Apple Survive in the Post-PC Era without Steve Jobs?

 

As we begin to apply the strategic innovation framework presented above to the Apple iPhone, it is early-summer 2013 and the financial news media is awash in negative stories about Apple, its products, and its management team. Concerns raised by these stories have galvanized the investment community, including both institutional investors and retail investors, to fundamentally question and openly doubt Apple's ability to a) develop game-changing product innovations, b) compete in the core post-PC markets that it invented, c) enter new and emerging markets, d) maintain its rich product and service profit margins, e) strike groundbreaking media deals, f) communicate its central message to customers and stakeholders, and g) effectively defend against a protracted torrent of negative news.

 

The key theme running through most of the concerns listed above revolves around a more fundamental and overarching question: Can Apple find its way in the post-PC world without Steve Jobs? To address this broader question, we must identify the individual core competencies of Steve Jobs and determine if Steve himself imbued them over time into the DNA of the current set of core competency holders at Apple, namely Apple's top management team and key employees. To make this clear, let's identify Steve's top three individual core competencies.

 

Visionary Competency of Steve Jobs

 

First, Steve was a great visionary with the instinctive ability to envision unique game-changing product innovations and take them all the way through their product lifecycles, from product concept through product development and ultimately to product introduction and launch. This fact is undisputed, as Steve did it once with the original Apple Macintosh personal computer and three times with groundbreaking post-PC devices, including the Apple iPod media player, the Apple iPhone smartphone, and the Apple iPad tablet. Steve also had a unique gift for envisioning what not to focus on or include in his products, and it was often what he went to the mat to leave out or leave behind that help clearly differentiate his game-changing innovations from all other competitive offerings. For example, the Apple Mac was driven primarily by a mouse rather than a keyboard, the Apple iPod was driven by a single wheel rather than numerous buttons, the Apple iPhone was driven by a large touch screen rather than keys, and the Apple iPad was driven by a user's index finger rather than a stylus.

 

Communication Competency of Steve Jobs

 

Second, Steve was a master communicator with a knack for simplifying complex product concepts and articulating them in easily digestible nuggets to a wide variety of audiences, including national and global news media organizations, professional media & technology critics, financial and industry analysts, influential and prominent business executives, and most importantly loyal Apple customers and future prospects. This fact is also undisputed, as Steve's product introduction and launch presentations were legendary for moving the consumer technology industry in entirely new directions overnight, as was the case when Steve unveiled the "1000 songs in your pocket" Apple iPod, the "impossibly small" Apple iPod nano, the "three new products in one" Apple iPhone, the "impossibly thin" Apple iPhone 4, the "incredibly affordable" Apple iPad, and the "revolutionary" Apple iPad 3.

 

Negotiation Competency of Steve Jobs

 

Third, Steve was a brilliant negotiator with the shrewdness to clearly feel his way through a deal and leverage industry trends and Apple's massive scale to his advantage when structuring and closing deals with linchpin companies across multiple industries, including record label companies and individual artists in the music industry; movie studios, television networks, and production companies in the entertainment industry; software application companies and individual software developers in the information technology industry; book, magazine, and newspaper companies in the publication industry; telephone companies and carriers in the telecommunications industry; national and global big-box chains and online commerce companies in the consumer retail industry; and (with the help of his right-hand-man, Tim Cook) global component, fabrication, and manufacturing companies in the high tech electronics industry.

 

The ultimate results of Steve's negotiating acumen are manifest in a) the unmatched profitability of Apple's product portfolio of devices and associated services, including Apple iTunes Store for music; Apple iTunes Store for television shows and movies; Apple App Store and Mac App Store for iOS and OS X software applications, respectively; and Apple iBooks for books, magazines, and newspapers and b) the long-standing, mutually-beneficial relationships with strategic partners, such as national and international telecommunications carriers; local, national, and global online and offline retail partners, and mass-market-scale global manufacturing partners.

 

Are Steve's Core Competencies Alive and Well in the DNA of Apple Today?

 

Given Steve Job's top-three core competencies (great visionary, master communicator, and brilliant negotiator) described in detail above, the critical question for Apple and its stakeholders is the following: Did Steve leave his amazing visionary, communication, and negotiation skills behind in the DNA of the existing Apple management team? More specifically,

 

  1. What if the great visionary skills of Steve Jobs were alive and well at Apple today?
  2. What if the master communication skills of Steve Jobs were alive and well at Apple today?
  3. What if the brilliant negotiation skills of Steve Jobs were alive and well at Apple today?

 

We strongly believe that Steve's key core competencies are indeed alive and well at Apple today, resolutely embodied in the minds of Apple's senior management team. Collectively it is all there for the world to behold, just as Steve intended it to be. Specifically, a keen observer can clearly see Steve's core competency holders live on stage at Apple's 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference. This tightly-knit, highly-collaborative leadership team may represent Steve's greatest work:

 

  • The human engine powering and defining Apple's post-PC future.
 

What an unanticipated gift to leave as a legacy to the world, not one of tangible integrated software and hardware as one might expect, but one of intangible integrated ideas and minds that competitors cannot easily replicate, imitate, or neutralize.

We believe Steve's easily digestible nugget defining and describing his greatest creation would be the "impossibly tight" Apple iTeam, a creative force driving the future direction and definition of the multiscreen post-PC era, including wearable mobile devices (such as post-PC Internet watches and glasses), non-wearable mobile devices (such as post-PC media players, smartphones, and tablets, as well as traditional PC laptops), and non-mobile devices (such as post-PC high definition and ultra-high definition televisions, as well as traditional PC desktops). Currently, there is nothing like the Apple iTeam operating at Internet scale anywhere else in the global consumer technology industry. In that competitive context and in today's multiscreen post-PC world, what a grand creation, indeed.


Post-PC Innovations: Past, Present, and Future

How do the world's greatest inventions over the past one thousand years relate to the modern post-PC roadmaps of leading post-PC technology companies? More specifically, consider the following diagram depicting the world's greatest inventions over the last 1,000 years, and ask yourself, "How will Apple continue to magically reinvent and revolutionize all of humankind's most significant achievements?"

We refer to this diagram as the World's Greatest Inventions with Associated Core Competencies and Corresponding Post-PC Innovations for the Multiscreen Internet-Connected World. It is organized as a table with five vertical columns and eleven rows sorted by time from earliest to latest time period.

The first and second column represent the world's greatest device and service inventions and the approximate time period of each invention’s introduction over the past 1,000 years, respectively. 11th century inventions included financial currency, or money. 13th century inventions included eyeglasses, or spectacles. 15th century inventions included the printing press and mass-produced paper books as well as the mechanical clock and the wearable timepiece, or watch. 19th century inventions included the camera and film photography; the telephone, or phone; and the automobile, or car. Finally, 20th century inventions included the radio and audio broadcast media; the television, or TV, and video broadcast media; the personal computer, or PC, and application software, or apps; and global digital networking, or the Internet.


The third column of the world's greatest inventions table captures the core competency of each invention, as summarized in the following list:

 

  1. Value exchange competency of money
  2. Visual amplification competency of spectacles
  3. Knowledge accessibility competency of the printing press
  4. Activity synchronization competency of the clock
  5. Image capture competency of the camera
  6. Voice communication competency of the phone
  7. Road transportation competency of the car
  8. Audio consumption & distribution competency of the radio
  9. Video consumption & distribution competency of the television
  10. Content publication competency of the computer
  11. Global connectivity competency of the Internet

 

Conceptually, we refer to an invention's unique value to consumer users or business users as its core competency. (For an introduction to the concept of a post-PC core competency, see the iGlass page of this site; for a comprehensive list of post-PC core competencies, see the PostPC+ Vision page of postpcplus.com.)

The fourth column shows the modern-day post-PC product or cloud service innovation corresponding to each of the original historic inventions. Finally, the fifth column highlights each post-PC innovation’s introduction date. For educational and illustrative purposes, the post-PC innovation table presented above focuses on current and future post-PC product and cloud service innovations created by Apple; however, one can construct similar columns for Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and Lenovo.

Apple's Magical Post-PC Roadmap: Past, Present, and Expected Future

The Apple innovations that have reinvented, redefined, or revolutionized historic inventions include
the following current post-PC products and cloud services:

 

  1. 2001 iPod which revolutionized mobile audio content consumption
  2. 2003 iTunes Store which redefined mobile audio content distribution
  3. 2007 iPhone which reinvented mobile voice communication and image capture
  4. 2008 App Store which redefined mobile software content distribution
  5. 2010 iPad which revolutionized mobile knowledge accessibility
  6. 2011 iCloud which redefined multiscreen connectivity & content synchronization

 

Each item in the list above contains the innovation's introduction date and its associated core competency at the time of introduction.

One of the most important takeaways from the list of historic post-PC innovations above is that Steve Jobs and his product innovation team at Apple always introduced a game-changing, or killer, post-PC cloud service approximately one year after the introduction of a game-changing, or killer, post-PC device.

That is, the Apple team always strategically paired the introduction of a killer post-PC device with a killer post-PC service. For example, the introduction of the Apple iTunes Store post-PC cloud service followed the introduction of the Apple iPod post-PC device; the Apple App Store post-PC cloud service followed the Apple iPhone post-PC device; and the Apple iCloud post-PC cloud service followed the Apple iPad post-PC device. We strongly expect Apple's post-PC innovation team to continue its competitively unique process of strategically pairing the introduction of post-PC devices and cloud services well into the future.

The Apple innovations that are expected to reinvent, redefine, or revolutionize historic inventions include the following prospective post-PC and wearable post-PC products and cloud services: 

 

  1. iWatch expected to revolutionize mobile activity synchronization & monitoring
  2. iPay expected to reinvent mobile cash-less & card-less value exchange
  3. iDash expected to redefine mobile auto navigation & control
  4. iTV expected to reinvent interactive video content consumption
  5. iFiber expected to redefine global video content distribution
  6. iGlass expected to revolutionize wearable human intelligence amplification
  7. iKnow expected to reinvent intelligent knowledge aggregation & distribution

 

These game-changing post-PC innovations from Apple and other leading post-PC firms, such as Google and Samsung, are expected to be introduced to consumer and business users as entirely new product and cloud service categories in the very near future.