Apple VP of worldwide iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak recently spoke at Cambridge, speaking to students about the four key principles that have made Apple so successful.
The presentation, reported by The Wall Street Journal, was part of an annual event called “Silicon Valley Comes to Cambridge,” which seeks to provide information and advice for its students from titans of the technology industry.
According to Joswiak, the four keys to Apple’s success are “focus, simplicity, courage, “best.”
On the topic of Focus, Jozwiak highlighted the importance of saying no. By saying no to many decisions that other companies often make, Apple has been able to avoid the traditional fumbles many other companies experience.
Further, Jozwiak spoke about being frugal, and making carefully-planned, wise, focused, and judicious decisions about its purchases and investments:
We do very few things at Apple. We are $100bn in revenue with very few products. There are only so many grade A players. If you spread yourself out over too many things, none of them will be great.
Defying typical thought on the topic of simplicity, Jozwiak explained that focusing on the “big picture” of consumer experience rather than worrying about specs, or being on the “cutting edge” by constantly one-upping other companies, has also contributed greatly to Apple’s success.
By keeping the user experience simple, focused, and direct, Apple is able to avoid issues such as platform fragmentation and overly complicated interfaces. He also mentioned that developing hardware and software “in unison” allows Apple to achieve a greater level of simplicity than most companies are able to.
When you start to build something, it quickly becomes really complex. But that is when a lot of people stop. If you really know your product and the problems, then you can take something that is complex and then make it simple.
In discussing courage, Joswiak’s main points are to be outgoing, and to develop strong perseverance – Being bold enough to try new ideas instead of hanging on to what has worked in the past. and to boldly keep trying until your product is just right, rather than giving up and taking shortcuts that are “good enough.”
Courage drives a lot of decisions in business. Don’t hang on to ideas from the past even if they have been successful for you. You don’t build a product just because everyone else has one.
Finally, the fourth principle, which Joswiak simply called “Best,” is to simply work hard to not just keep up with the industry, but to be the very best, and not settle for anything lower than you first aim to shoot for.
If you can’t enter the market and try and be the best in it, don’t enter it. You need that differentiation. At Apple if we can’t be the best then we are not interested in it.
Indeed, these four principles do seem to be reflected through Apple’s corporate attitude today, but also in the past, and can certainly be counted as good advice, especially considering the source!