“And that’s what we’re about”

Steve Jobs MWSF 2000  The Big Picture

I was watching Steve Jobs’s keynote at Macworld Expo in San Francisco in 2000, important because it’s when Jobs introduced Mac OS X, its architecture and Aqua interface, when he introduced iTools (basically iCloud’s great-grandfather), and when he announced as a ‘one more thing’ that he wouldn’t be ‘interim’ CEO anymore at Apple but would take the CEO role in a more permanent capacity.

There’s a bit of this keynote I’d forgotten about, though, and I think it’s just as important. At the end of the event, before the ‘one more thing’, when Steve is wrapping things up, he talks about ‘The big picture’ and about what makes Apple Apple. I have transcribed that bit and decided to publish it here because I think it’s still relevant:

I want to zoom out and talk about the big picture of how we see all of these things play together. You know, I remember two and a half years ago when I got back to Apple, there were people throwing spears saying “Apple is the last vertically integrated personal computer manufacturer, it should be broken up into a hardware company, a software company, what have you,” and— it’s true, that Apple is the last company in our industry that makes the whole widget, but what that also means [is that] if managed properly, it’s the last company in our industry that can take responsibility for customer experience. There’s nobody left!

And it also means that we don’t have to get ten companies in a room to agree on everything to innovate. We can decide ourselves to place our bets like we did for USB on the original iMac; hardware — let’s build it in; software — let’s build it in; marketing — let’s go evangelise it to the developers and tell our customers why it’s better. And let’s not wait three years for an agreement — and now Apple is leading in USB. Desktop movies — let’s take our hardware and put FireWire ports in iMac, let’s write applications called iMovie that take advantage of QuickTime and allow us to do these things, and let’s go market it, so people can understand this and see how easy it is to use. There’s no other company left in this industry that can bring innovation to the marketplace like Apple can.

So, we really care deeply about the hardware, we think this is where everything starts, and we got again the finest hardware lineup in Apple’s history. We’re so proud of these products. But we also do software at Apple. Again, we own the second-highest-volume operating system in the world and one of only two high-volume operating systems in the world. We make a lot of other software: Mac OS X coming, iMovie, et cetera. And the greatest thing is when we put them together, and we integrate them, like the examples I just gave you, like iMovie and the new iMacs, seamlessly integrated into desktop movies. Another example is AirPort, where we could seamlessly integrate this whole new wireless networking technology into our OS, so when you plug in an AirPort card in your iBook you don’t have to spend half an hour flipping settings. It just — boom! — pops to life and works.

This is the kind of innovation we can bring through this integration. And now we’re adding Internet stuff. We got our first four iTools today, that wouldn’t be possible if we couldn’t take unfair advantage of the fact that we supplied OS 9, the client operating system, and so that our servers and our clients could work together in a more intimate way than anyone else can do. And so we’re gonna integrate these things together in ways that no one else in this industry can do, to provide a seamless user experience where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And we’re the last guys left in this industry that can do it. And that’s what we’re about.

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About Riccardo Mori

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!