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BeOS was my primary non-work endpoint operating system until 2006 thus I was rather interested to listen to this interview. Jean-Louis Gassee made some interesting points, but at times, seemed to contradict himself.
Mr. Gassee mentioned that the important characteristic of a company's success is not the product, but the execution. This is a valid point and important to understand when assessing product quality relative to company success. A contradiction came when Martin Hedberg brought up a specific detail regarding an inferior characteristic of Apple's smartphone to which Mr. Gassee responded sarcastically and unprofessionally "that is why they are unsuccessful." Mr. Gassee's reply intimated that product success is dependent on product quality whereas his previous statements were focusing on "execution".
Later in the interview, as the topic of the importance of product quality relative to success, was being discussed in more detail and Mr. Hedberg was questioning the quality of Apple products, Mr. Gassee responded that it was ignorant to say that the products offered by such a successful company could be low quality when a large portion of people purchase them; Mr. Gassee explained people can be tricked temporarily, but not indefinitely. Mr. Hedberg, however, was not indicating that people were being tricked indefinitely, only now.
Mr. Gassee's statements that explain execution is the most relevant characteristic to company success and that details such as open/close software and ecosystems are unimportant in comparison (relative to profitability not capability) makes perfect sense; like he said, there are examples of profitable closed and open companies. One, for example, could create the cure for cancer. They then could advertise it only on their web site and provide no scientific data to back up the claim. This would be an example of a good product purely executed. Another party could create a treatment for cancer that works 30% of the time. They advertise heavily, send free samples to all medical offices, etc. and thus become very successful exampling a mediocre product well executed thus more profitable.
Mr. Gassee's position that the execution is the most important characteristic relative to success is spot on. His statements that the profitability of a company indicate they make a good quality product contradict the former statement and are incorrect.
Mr. Gassee created an amazing product (BeOS), however, after listening to this interview, I know that, where I would trust his judgement for organization structure relative to profitability, I would look elsewhere for advice regarding product quality relative to technical attributes, innovative characteristics, ease of use, and other characteristics important in product (not company) assessment. Edited 2013-04-15 23:42 UTC