Global CIO: Steve Jobs' Legacy: 10 Ways He's Rocked Our World - InformationWeek

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Government // Mobile & Wireless
05:39 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans

Global CIO: Steve Jobs' Legacy: 10 Ways He's Rocked Our World

The profound influence of Apple's brilliant founder and CEO has changed how corporations of all kinds approach strategy, design, and customer engagement.

#10) Apple Fanboy Syndrome. All great movements must have zealous and frothing foot soldiers, and for Apple it's their legions of fanboys. Often derided for their singular devotion, the fanboys epitomize a deeply passionate commitment to Apple's products and philosophies that extends far beyond the fanboy cult: on a tour through the Bay Area last week, three separate CEOs of enterprise software companies admitted to being fanboys themselves. What value can you assign to that type of customer loyalty and advocacy—and, for all the abuse ascribed to the fanboys, what company in what industry wouldn't love to have such wild-eyed followers? And, if you want to get technical about it, here's a definition from "4. One who waits in line for days in some instances, for Apple keynote speeches."

#9) Taking The Road Less Travelled. For the past 25 years, various know-it-alls have forecast Apple's doom because it would not allow other hardware companies to build devices for its software. And for periods in the 1990's, it looked at times like those predictions of Apple's demise were not at all premature. But Jobs remained unwavering in his belief that Apple's unique advantage would lie in its refusal to march to the beat of everyone else in the PC industry: following the Wintel standard and surrendering control of your most valuable and strategic asset: software. In these days when consumers want more choices and increasing levels of customization, many more companies are taking a long hard look at Apple's strategy of avoiding the pack.

#8) The Power Of Optimized Systems. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who in the past 18 months has been the most-vocal advocate for highly engineered enterprise systems that optimize the interplay of purpose-built software and hardware, has cited the iPod, iPhone, and iPad as perfect examples of what such engineering can deliver. Jobs himself put it this way in mid-October: "And sixth and last, our potential competitors are having a tough time coming close to iPad's pricing, even with their far smaller, far less expensive screens. The iPad incorporates everything we have learnt about building high value products from iPhones, iPods and Macs. We create our own A4 chip, our own software, our own battery chemistry, our own enclosure, our own everything. And this results in an incredible product at a great price. The proof of this will be in the pricing of our competitor's products which will likely offer less for more." (To see this comment in full context, please check out Global CIO: Inside Steve Jobs' Head: The Supremacy Of Software.)

#7) Intense And Relentless Focus On Customers. I'm not saying other tech companies don't care about their customers—just that Jobs and Apple took it beyond the traditional level and have made it an obsession. A few years ago, when Apple began using some Intel chips inside some of its products, Jobs was asked why those Apple products didn't sport the "Intel Inside" logo. He replied that he had never heard of a customer asking Apple to put the Intel logo on its products, so why, Jobs asked in return, would we even think about doing that? And here's Jobs on why Apple's approach to mobile devices will ultimately trump Google's: "In reality, we think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is, what's best for the customer, fragmented versus integrated. We think Android is very, very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day. And as you know, Apple's strives for the integrated model so that the user isn't forced to be the systems integrator." (For full analysis of the Apple-Google spat, please see Global CIO: Steve Jobs Declares War On Google.)

#6) Elegant And Functional Design. Look again at Jobs' sarcastic but insightful comment about sandpaper:

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