Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Oct 2010 20:54 UTC
Apple Is it an indication of Steve Jobs' (in)famous strive for perfection, or just stupid bone-headedness? The white variant of the iPhone 4 was first delayed for a few weeks, but those few weeks became 'end of the year'. Now we know why: the manufacturers Apple employs are apparently having issues matching the shades of white of the various components. This anecdote ties in nicely with a very interesting interview with John Sculley about Steve Jobs' ways of doing business.
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Akio Morita
by DeadFishMan on Fri 15th Oct 2010 22:51 UTC
DeadFishMan
Member since:
2006-01-09

Despite my feelings towards Sony today I am a huge admirer of Mr. Akio Morita after I read his biography a few years ago and I think that these days there are few if any CEOs that are really comparable, Jobs himself included, so I think that it was wise to attempt to mimic his style.

Mr. Morita had, as stated on the interview, a legendary attention to details but, unlike Jobs, he was a very humble person - which seems to be an inherent virtue of many Japanese people, it seems - and willing to compromise to accommodate other people's ideas, especially from engineers (Seriously, if you what you sell is a tech-based product, you definitely should listen to your engineers first and then look at the design people to see what they can do afterwards with what the engineers created/can create! It is common sense!) which is something that Jobs downright refuses to do for better or for worse.

But it is hard to fault Jobs today and Apple's current performance in the market and its position as an industry trend setter are testaments to his leadership skills. But whatever... I still think that his products are way overpriced and that he is an elitist ass... ;)

Edited 2010-10-15 22:53 UTC

Reply Score: 9

RE: Akio Morita
by thavith_osn on Fri 15th Oct 2010 23:23 in reply to "Akio Morita"
thavith_osn Member since:
2005-07-11

I am a software engineer, and there have been many times we say we can only do something a certain way, but many times that is due to not wanting to redesign something in a different or better way, if it works, why change it. Being lazy is a big decision maker in our industry, just look at all the horrible software out there.

I am sure hardware is similar (though I have no experience in that area). If something is made a certain way and has always been made a certain way, then why redesign?

If you haven't done so yet, check out the book iWoz, Woz explains how he would look at computer designs back in his youth and redesign them using way fewer parts. His design of the 5.25" floppy drive is a brilliant example of that. I guess the time the two Steves spent together rubbed off on Jobs.

I think Jobs pushes his staff because more times than not because the people who say it can't be done just don't know that it actually can.

I have a lot of respect and admiration for Jobs, but I wouldn't want to personally spend too much time with the guy, I think Woz would be way more interesting to hang out with.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Akio Morita
by Radio on Fri 15th Oct 2010 23:42 in reply to "RE: Akio Morita"
Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

I am a software engineer, and there have been many times we say we can only do something a certain way, but many times that is due to not wanting to redesign something in a different or better way, if it works, why change it. Being lazy is a big decision maker in our industry, just look at all the horrible software out there.

I am sure hardware is similar (though I have no experience in that area). If something is made a certain way and has always been made a certain way, then why redesign?

I don't know if I can speak for all engineers out there, but we love doing new, cutting-edge stuff. From my point of view, coding is boring and difficult (debugging takes a while, improving often leads to complete rewrites, golden ideas turn impredictably to mud when actually implemented) so I understand the "lazyness"; but for hardware... Which sane engineer would have resisted the idea of making a multi-touch gizmo like the iPhone? For all the engineers I know, the only thing restraining their creativity is financial means, not lazyness (or more accurately, the idea that "this is good enough, let'sz leave it like that").

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Akio Morita
by galvanash on Fri 15th Oct 2010 23:27 in reply to "Akio Morita"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

I think the difference that arises with Job's approach is that by starting with a design and forcing engineers to come up with ways to implement it faithfully, he can often get results from the engineers that they initially thought were not possible... You tend to approach a problem differently when you know the end result is defined in stone (i.e. it has to work exactly like this) and no amount of arguing on your part is going to change it.

I'm not saying this is a better approach in all instances, but when it does lead to an engineering breakthrough it is usually partly responsible for the products success. For example, the "wheel" of the original iPod is often sited as the main point of differentiation between it and its competitors - and it worked remarkably well and took ages for competitors to create a decent knock-off. It also reportedly took Apple engineers ages to get right too... A compromise on that may have lead to a product quicker, it may even have been a good product, but it wasn't the same product that was originally envisioned - and if an iPod used rocker buttons for navigation it wouldn't have been much different from any other mp3 player...

As the article states, Apple doesn't make a lot of products - their success partly relies on them being able to make a product that their competitors can't duplicate easily - and if they do manage to duplicate it they can't quite get it "right". Imho that is directly attributable to the no-compromise-on-design approach they take.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Akio Morita
by indech on Sat 16th Oct 2010 00:58 in reply to "Akio Morita"
indech Member since:
2005-12-06

Mr. Morita had, as stated on the interview, a legendary attention to details but, unlike Jobs, he was a very humble person - which seems to be an inherent virtue of many Japanese people, it seems

It's a cultural thing. Asia is very collectivistic, where as most of the western world is more individualistic.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Akio Morita
by tylerdurden on Sat 16th Oct 2010 02:06 in reply to "RE: Akio Morita"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

The USA is hardly "most of the Western world" :-)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Akio Morita
by toast88 on Sat 16th Oct 2010 13:27 in reply to "Akio Morita"
toast88 Member since:
2009-09-23

I do absolutely agree. Akio Morita was one of the best CEOs in the history of the 20th century and I think Sony's huge success in the 70ies, 80ies and 90ies was largely owed to his way of steering the company. It's such a pity that Sony, once one of the greatest engineering companies in the world, has gone so much downwards ever since new CEOs have taken over the company. If Morita was still alive, he'd fire all of those amateurs.

I highly recommend the book by John Nathan, called "Sony". It's so much fun to read and one really learns to appreciate the achievements by Sony regarding electrical engineering, being a physicist who researches in physical electronics himself.

I also recommend watching this interview with Morita from the early 90ies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGcf_u3QCeg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOPXVNynO1U
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYjrn_P8lSA

Adrian

Edited 2010-10-16 13:29 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2