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How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the this-dept-line-for-rent dept.

Apple 413

An anonymous reader writes "Wired has a look at how the good and bad of Apple, their Yin and Yang, have come together to form a company that actually works. The piece looks at Steve Jobs' unusual and abrasive management style, otherwise known as 'Management Techniques From the Dark Side'. It's essentially a list of counterintuitive, suspicious-seeming and downright evil management techniques that work - for them."

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What a silly article (5, Insightful)

wass (72082) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796086)

I read the first of five pages of the article, and decided it's not worth further click-throughs.

The author tries to come up with ways that Apple is evil, but really winds up taking jabs primarily at Steve Jobs. As a newfound mac user, I don't give a crap about Jobs, I care about using a computer that matches my needs and does what I want. For me that's Mac. And for most of the other 6-7% of the Mac marketshare it's a pretty similar situation.

Re:What a silly article (4, Interesting)

podperson (592944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796198)

Agreed.

My favorite bit from skimming it: "even WIRED got it wrong" (referring to telling Apple to get out of the hardware business).

This from the magazine whose cover story was "The Long Boom" the month that the internet bubble burst.

Wired hardly ever gets anything right (not entirely its fault, since it makes lots of predictions), but still.

Re:What a silly article - Mod Parent Up (5, Interesting)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796200)

No joke, I wish my mod points hadn't expired. This really is some twisted shit. This seems par for the course lately from Wired. They have been publishing absolute garbage lately. Air Force blocks blocks and other sites and suddenlty something that is an industry best practice for security becomes censorship?

I also noticed that the people bitching about Jobs were "former" employees. Well holy shit...someone who left or was fired is going to bitch about their former boss for some media facetime? This is a 5 page article?!

And maybe I didn't read enough, but "micromanaging" has nothing to do with demanding exacting detail from the output. Anyone who calls that micromanaging has NEVER been micromanaged and its an insult to anyone who has suffered through a real micromanaging boss.

well, it is silly, but not in the way you think (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796202)

The article says that Steve Job's evil ways are still useful in cranking out a product which people (like you) will buy. You as customer don't really care if people died during the process.
I think, that his way is successful as long as there are many similar bosses, but when his workforce tends to drift away, you will be left without your Mac.
And then, you might give a crap about Jobs, or just buy something else.

Re:well, it is silly, but not in the way you think (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796296)

The main difference between Apple and other companies is who they design products for. Most companies try to identify a market segment, work out what people in that segment want to buy, and then produce a product for that market. Apple tries to produce products for Steve Jobs. He has fairly good taste and so often those are also products that other people want to buy. Sometimes, they are not. A classic example is the Cube - a computer everyone wanted but no one thought was worth the price (the down side of designing products for a multibillionaire). It remains to be seen whether the MacBook Air will fall into that category.

Another company that used to work that way was Palm. Their flagship pilot was built to be something that the CEO would to carry around with him. There is a well-known story about him getting a block of wood cut which would fit in his jacket pocket and giving it to the designers as a maximum size for the device.

Re:well, it is silly, but not in the way you think (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796620)

Most companies try to identify a market segment, work out what people in that segment want to buy, and then produce a product for that market. Apple tries to produce products for Steve Jobs.

*nod* Most good software I've ever seen was designed to solve the specific needs of a very few people, often needs the software author h(im/er)self had. I think the focus group method is practically guaranteed to lead to mediocre or poor designs. There is nothing specific it's really trying to do, and it's hard to get enthusiastic over something and do a really good job on it when no individual seems all that excited over it.

completely ignorant (5, Interesting)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796208)

The author seems blissfully unaware of Apple's free software use. GCC, Darwin, Khtml and what not punch a few large holes in their central thesis.

Re:completely ignorant (4, Informative)

abigor (540274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796318)

Not to mention original efforts like launchd, which Apple has released under the Apache license. There's also Bonjour, Darwin, etc. - see here: http://developer.apple.com/opensource/index.html [apple.com]

Re:completely ignorant (4, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796380)

apple only uses free software to assist in rapid building of large software projects. Why build a custom MSFT SMB/CIF/what ever it's called this year Interface when Samba is free, works well with your base system, and only needs a custom GUI interface?

KHTML, Cups, etc all fall into that category. While Apple routinely publishes it's open source code back as it is required under the GPL, the software that is BSD based doesn't get published as often. Where is the Darwin version for the iPhone? If it really is running a custom version of OSX then it exists, but you will never see it.

Re:completely ignorant (4, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796814)

Why do you think they won't release Darwin for the iPhone? The Darwin page has entries for the iPhone's webkit and java engine. I mean, the iPhone isn't even a year old and only has a beta SDK!

People said the exact same thing about the Intel version of Darwin, yet they did release the Intel versions of Darwin!

Re:completely ignorant (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796432)

How is free software at all relevant to the article? Did you even read it?

(Silly question around here, I know.)

Actually... (2, Informative)

techwizrd (1164023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796658)

Darwin is not very open-source, and they use WebKit which was developed off of KHTML.

Meh. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796214)

Where modern management philosophies are mainly about touchy-feelie crap and corporate culture is trending toward openness, Apple stands out as a company where management is aggressive and dictatorial and corporate culture is supremely secretive.

If you want to call that "Evil" I suppose you can. I think, however, that design by committee only produces piles of steaming crap. There is definitely something to be said for a guy who has vision, and the force of personality to see it through.

Re:Meh. (3, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796448)

You can have vision and have the force of personality to see it through without being aggressive and dictatorial. Anyway, this is really a Post hoc ergo propter hoc argument anyway. It's quite possible that Jobs and Apple have been successful in spite of Jobs abrasive personality rather than because of it.

Re:Meh. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796570)

Well, that theory holds less weight given that we have a period of Apple prosperity under Jobs, followed by a period of decline after Jobs, and then another period of prosperity after Jobs' return. Say what you will about him, he does have a measurable effect.

Re:Meh. (4, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796772)

Actually the time between the introduction of the Mac and Jobs departure, Apple wasn't all that successful. It was his second coming that led to Apple's first big financial success following the Apple II. In any case, I wasn't talking about Apple's success as a function of Jobs overall performance, but rather about the claim that his being a jerk was the cause for Apple's success. What about Next? Wasn't he enough of a jerk there to be successful?

Re:Meh. (4, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796586)

As far as I'm concerned, Apple is successful for one reason, and one reason only: they have hired some of the greatest designers in history to work for them, just like Google has hired some of the greatest programmers.

I love Apple design. But that delicious, creamy center is wrapped up in all the corporate avarice, control-mongering (DRM, lawsuits etc), and nastiness that the contemporary corporation is capable of. I think that they are actually worse than Microsoft in this regard.

Re:What a silly article (0, Troll)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796232)

by Google's definition, Apple is irredeemably evil, behaving more like an old-fashioned industrial titan than a different-thinking business of the future. Apple operates with a level of secrecy that makes Thomas Pynchon look like Paris Hilton. It locks consumers into a proprietary ecosystem. ... But by deliberately flouting the Google mantra, Apple has thrived.
Only because consumers are stupid. I completely agree- Apple is irredeemably evil, more obsessed with proprietary secrets than even Microsoft. And I would never put a single dollar in Apple's pocket.

Re:What a silly article (5, Funny)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796458)

Apple is irredeemably evil, and more obsessed with proprietary secrets than Microsoft, however, Apple doesn't practice 1/2 of the dirty business games that Microsoft plays.

Partnering with Microsoft is the kiss of death. Period. Microsoft will do legal & illegal things to fuck you, and then worry about the consequences later.

Apple doesn't do this; so even though Apple is a brutish sort of company, they're easier to do business with. Lawful Evil > Chaotic Evil ;-)

Re:What a silly article (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796274)

Well Steve Jobs pretty much represents Apple so that's where the tie-in is. The rest of the article goes on to describe the management design he has within Apple as it is full of secrecy and how Jobs tied the software to the hardware, although I thought OSX will run on any hardware (someone correct me if I'm wrong). There were naysayers who said that idea would fail, but somehow it flourished. I won't spoon feed you the rest of the article, but it basically says he's responsible for the past 10 years of what Apple has done.

Re:What a silly article (1)

oledoody (794438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796556)

completely agree here, just a silly silly article. Steve isn't nice? I can live with that. :)

Its not hard - most managers are tools (5, Interesting)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796094)

Given that most managerial types are ignorant tools whose rise to power is typically fuelled by a mediocre knowledge of PowerPoint and Project, its a no brainer that to succeed, be agile, and come up with good products, you simply do everything that 'traditional' techniques says to avoid.

Re:Its not hard - most managers are tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796314)

Which just proves that the geeks are the real tools. WTF should you spend years mastering C and C++ when you can do better with PowerPoint and Project?

Re:Its not hard - most managers are tools (4, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796320)

>fuelled by a mediocre knowledge of PowerPoint

Hey! I resent that. And I can prove it's not true. I've got a 70-page presentation that I'd like to share. I'll read through every single slide and, to keep you interested, it's got all kinds of text that flies in from the left and fades out and ... ;)

Handicapped (3, Insightful)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796098)

If there's no easy-to-find spot and he's in a hurry, Jobs has been known to pull up to Apple's front entrance and park in a handicapped space. (Sometimes he takes up two spaces.)
At the risk of being modded into oblivion, what a dick move. But then again how many handicapped people frequent their office?

Re:Handicapped (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796178)

If there's no easy-to-find spot and he's in a hurry, Jobs has been known to pull up to Apple's front entrance and park in a handicapped space. (Sometimes he takes up two spaces.)
At the risk of being modded into oblivion, what a dick move. But then again how many handicapped people frequent their office?
What if his WiFi was out and he had to run a cable from his parking space to his office? So that he could still work from his car like some sort of homeless roving guy? Try working like that for a week and you won't be able to walk either. No wireless, less space than a Nomad. Lame!

Re:Handicapped (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796188)

It's possible those spaces are for the emotionally handicapped [folklore.org] .

Re:Handicapped (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796196)

I don't know, but I bet they were all making handicapped faces when he did that.

Re:Handicapped (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796302)

+1 aswsome refrence..

if only we could make our own mod options..

Re:Handicapped (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796440)

Ah, the all-to-rare Dennis Leary reference. If you were a girl, I would propose to you right now for that one.

Re:Handicapped (1)

thousandinone (918319) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796764)

You're an asshole

Re:Handicapped (-1, Troll)

Scaba (183684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796210)

Speaking of handicapped drivers, if you don't have enough control of your body to park where everyone else does, should you really be controlling a 3000 lbs./1360.77711 kg. death machine?

Yea, I'm trolling...

Re:Handicapped (2, Funny)

ajcham (1179959) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796554)

It seems strange to me that you would loosely estimate the weight of a car to the nearest 1000 pounds, yet provide accuracy of 5 decimal places in the metric conversion.

Re:Handicapped (1)

Scaba (183684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796584)

It seemed funny to me, which is why I did it. Which is pretty much why I do anything.

Re:Handicapped (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796618)

If you're a quadriplegic, then I'd say not yet, because the tech isn't yet here to compensate. It will be though.
If you're a paraplegic, then sure, why not? The tech to compensate works just fine. Switches for brakes and accel on steering wheel.
If you've got correctable vision problems, again, sure, why not? The tech to compensate works here too. Glasses, contacts, electronic eyes in 30-40 years maybe.
If you're not omnipotent and thus can't avoid causing accidents, why not? The tech to compensate for that handicap works reasonably well. Crumple zones, roll cages, ALB, air bags, seat belts...

Re:Handicapped (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796834)

The wide bays aren't to make parking easier dipshit. They're like that so you can fit your chair in between your car and the next one.

Re:Handicapped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796226)

If I owned a company that size i would have my own marked out space by the entrance :)

Apple only exist (-1, Troll)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796102)

because Microsoft need them so they can claim they're not a monopoly...

He needs to get towed a few times. (5, Insightful)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796120)

Unauthorized parking in a handicapped spot is a violation of state law. In this case, the rules do apply to Jobs, regardless of the high opinion he has of himself.

Jobs needs to make a few trips to the impound lot to bail out his car. He would probably create his own reserved parking place, but at least that would put an end to the myth of the egalitarian parking lot policy.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (0)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796142)

Seeing as how it's private property, he can park anywhere he wants. He can park in the front entrance if he wants.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (4, Informative)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796276)

Seeing as how it's private property, he can park anywhere he wants. He can park in the front entrance if he wants.

He can indeed park in the front entrance, on the sidewalk, or on the front lawn. But, he can't park in a handicapped space unless he is handicapped. That's the law.

The law also requires a certain number of handicapped spaces. The formula varies by state -- maybe someone knows the details of CA law, as it would apply to Apple. So, Jobs couldn't just convert a handicapped space to his personal parking space, unless they are currently exceeding the requirements of the law.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796692)

The problem is that meter maids can't patrol private property. Someone from Apple has to call the police on the violator. No one is going to do that to Jobs unless they're planning on leaving the company soon.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (5, Insightful)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796282)

Seeing as how it's private property, he can park anywhere he wants. He can park in the front entrance if he wants.
Yes it is private property but it is required to follow city laws and codes. That is why businesses must have handicap spots in the first place. City regulations require that a business have those spots. So no he can not park in the handicap spot. He could park in the front entrance however, but he would probably be breaking fire code. So just because someone owns the business does not mean they can do whatever. For example a chemical company can not just dump chemical waste on their back lot. If only life were as simple as your mind :)

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (1)

Akita24 (1080779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796608)

"If only life were as simple as your mind" Thank you. I haven't laughed that hard in days.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796414)

I'm sure there are state laws which specify X number of handicapped spaces at workplaces and retail businesses, whether their property is "private" or not. Just try that "this is private property, we can do what we want here" crap with OSHA sometime and see what happens.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (5, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796186)

Unauthorized parking in a handicapped spot is a violation of state law. In this case, the rules do apply to Jobs, regardless of the high opinion he has of himself.

To Steve Jobs, the hundred dollar fine he'd pay here for parking in a handicapped spot is akin to my putting a quarter in a parking meter. Chump change not worth worrying about.

Fines should be based on net worth, or at least income. Since they're not, the richer you are the less the law applies to you.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (0, Troll)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796344)

To Steve Jobs, the hundred dollar fine he'd pay here for parking in a handicapped spot is akin to my putting a quarter in a parking meter
For this to be true, your net worth would be $11,250,000.

Of course, since the parking space at Apple are private property, the only rules that apply to parking restrictions are corporate one and they are unlikely to tow the CEO's car. If he tried that elsewhere, I suspect the results would be different.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796704)

For this to be true, your net worth would be $11,250,000.

OK, I didn't bother looking up his net worth, but my net worth is negative. I owe a mortgage company, a car loan, and a couple of credit cards like just about every other working American. The point stands; a hundred bucks to someone having his wealth and income is chump change, and being late to a meeting with an important client may cost his company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Link:

Steven Paul Jobs (born February 24, 1955) is the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc, and is the founder of Pixar Animation Studios and was its CEO until it was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in 2006.[2] Jobs is currently the Walt Disney Company's largest individual shareholder[7] and a member of its Board of Directors. He is considered a leading figure in both the computer and entertainment industries. Steve Jobs is listed as Fortune Magazine's most powerful Businessman of 2007 out of twenty-five other top businessmen.[8]



His current salary at Apple officially remains US$1 per year, although he has traditionally been the recipient of a number of lucrative "executive gifts" from the board, including a US$46 million jet in 1999 and just under 30 million shares of restricted stock in 2000-2002[30].

Don't take that one dollar per year income too seriously, dude. That airplane he was paid in 1999 is a thousand times my annual salary. So I was indeed incorrect; his hundred dollar fine is akin to less than a penny fine to me!

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796550)

Having the car towed, crushed and cubed would take care of this for the moderately rich. We buy cars of price proportional to our wealth, after all.

The superrich like Jobs are another matter. Perhaps it would be more fair to remove his legs such that he would then qualify for the space in which he parked.

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796634)

Fines should be based on net worth, or at least income.


Doesn't Steve Jobs only get a $1 salary, technically?

Re:He needs to get towed a few times. (1)

smurfsurf (892933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796564)

Actually, making Jobs driving around in search of a parking lot is quite an uneffective use of the CEO's time. This is wasteful.

just like a cult (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796126)

"look at how Steve Jobs' unusual and abrasive management style works. ... Wired.com compiles a list of counterintuitive, suspicious-seeming and downright evil management techniques that actually work."

So in other words, it works just like a cult.

They Be The Opposite (4, Insightful)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796138)

Much of the success of Apple has nothing to do with Apple itself or Steve Jobs. Instead, Apple allows people to directly reject Microsoft. Linux satisfies this anti-Microsoft position as well, but Apple actually markets itself and has the financial backing to push this branding.

With that said, Apple helps keep Microsoft out of even more legal hot water, for example, by directly backing Apple. It's a CYA tactic on the legal front.

Bottom line: Don't just drink the Kool-Aid on the Apple story without taking 1-2 steps back to look at the marketplace, cultures, and end users.

Re:They Be The Opposite (4, Funny)

Life2Short (593815) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796418)

It's like the joke about the two lawyers in the woods who stumble across a bear. The first lawyer begins to run, and the second says, "Hey, forget it, you can't outrun a bear." The first lawyer yells over his shoulder, "I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you."

Apple has pulled their share of disasters as well, but when you look at Apple's competition, their products are often mind-numbingly BAD. VISTA? Earlier online music purchasing systems? Dell and Gateway computers?

Apple isn't all that great, it's just that the competition sucks. I mean when the Asus eee-pc is the most encouraging thing you've seen come to the tech table in awhile...

They don't understand because they are wrong. (0, Troll)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796140)

It's hard to see the Mac OS and the iPhone coming out of the same design-by-committee process that produced Microsoft Vista or Dell's Pocket DJ music player. Likewise, had Apple opened its iTunes-iPod juggernaut to outside developers, the company would have risked turning its uniquely integrated service into a hodgepodge of independent applications kind of like the rest of the Internet, come to think of it.

They don't understand the problems because they are completely wrong. Microsoft Vista and Dell's Pocket DJ and the Zune may have been designed by comittee but the parts that suck were pushed from on high. Apple is only the king of cool because the commercial alternatives suck so badly.

Free software designs consistently trounce commercial offerings. Package management on free systems is nearly flawless and free systems come with everything needed. People on Mac are insulted with popups that ask for money when they run into what should be common features. Windows victims walk on eggshells around their OS, backing up binary files and terrified of installing or removing programs. Then there are things like Amarok and MythTV which simply kill iTunes and Tivo respectively. Where free software developers successfully reverse engineer hardware drivers, the result is rock solid stability that commercial makers can only achieve with drastic hardware choice limitations.

In a less evil world every hardware company would join the free software community and leave both Microsoft and Apple chains in the trash.

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796306)

Free software design may trounce commercial offerings, but only if you are talking about some of the back-end code and theoretical features. When it comes to UI and usability there are few complex applications where it comes close. With a couple exceptions, most Free projects effectively create their own walled garden simply because they don't adhere to any form of universal standard or target interface.

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796796)

Universal standards are overrated.

Most commercial software suffers from the artifical need to
create changes. Selling the same app year after year leads
to the need to make the product unecessarily complicate by
adding meaningless features or by changing the UI entirely.

Apple doesn't tend to get sucked into this BS.

They actually live by the so called "unversal standards"
that Windows users like to crow about. At Apple, such ideas
aren't just empty marketing rhetoric.

A simple interface is far more useful and far more accessable.
A lot of Apple's products follow this idea. They comply with
the HID minutia as well. However avoiding unecessary cruft
and complexity is where Apple draws it's real strength from.

True believers (apple) versus televangelists (windows).

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (1, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796340)

No Apple is only the "king of cool" because they've *convinced* a bunch of people that they're the "king of cool." They're masters of style, flash, and smug hipness. But to the uninitiated (i.e., us Windows and Linux-using non-hipster heathens); their computers and devices are just proprietary, difficult to repair and upgrade, significantly overpriced for their specs, a pain-in-the-ass to develop for, and locked-down tighter than a ugly nun in Salt Lake City.

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796352)

The thing about free designs is that they're generally the product of a small group of like-minded individuals who are setting out to fill a concrete need. It's a good design philosophy; concrete goal, tight group of knowledgeable, motivated people. The resulting products are usually solid.

They also tend to look like crap. OSS projects with really good interfaces are rare.

Apple doesn't actually tend to break much new ground. What they do is recognize a need that's being filled by an inferior product, and make a slick product to fill that niche. They have some of the best front-end designers in the business.

I know having something be pretty and functional is something that is often derided by the ubergeeks, but the real reason that we don't see huge gains as far as "Linux on the Desktop" is because the interface just isn't there. Even Ubuntu is lacking, though it's a much better attempt than any that have gone before.

With OSX Mac proved that you can take a BSD based system, throw a slick interface on it, and have an OS that, even when completely locked to proprietary hardware, is capable of agressively increasing market share.

This is something we should learn from, not something that we should dismiss as them being wrong.

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (4, Insightful)

Scaba (183684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796454)

Microsoft Vista and Dell's Pocket DJ and the Zune may have been designed by comittee but the parts that suck were pushed from on high.

Right. Pushed from on high. In other words, designed by committee.

Apple is only the king of cool because the commercial alternatives suck so badly.

No, it's because they actually make cool stuff. The lightest girl in a roomful of fat chicks is still a fat chick.

Free software designs consistently trounce commercial offerings.

If by "consistently" you meant "rarely," then I totally agree.

Package management on free systems is nearly flawless and free systems come with everything needed. People on Mac are insulted with popups that ask for money when they run into what should be common features. Windows victims walk on eggshells around their OS, backing up binary files and terrified of installing or removing programs. Then there are things like Amarok and MythTV which simply kill iTunes and Tivo respectively. Where free software developers successfully reverse engineer hardware drivers, the result is rock solid stability that commercial makers can only achieve with drastic hardware choice limitations.

Hahaha. OK, I just got you were being satirical. Well done!

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (1)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796734)

No, I mean what I say. Another portion of my rant, is that much of what's good in Apple comes from free software as people on this thread [slashdot.org] are pointing out. The author is ignorant and wrong. Tyranny leads to failure in any company but more so in software than elsewhere.

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796746)

Pushed from on high. In other words, designed by committee.

No. Those don't mean the same thing at all.

The article gives several examples of Steve Jobs exemplifying the "pushed from on high" approach; it's the CEO of the company, not a committee of "stakeholders" with little actual stake in the outcome of the project, determining how big the product should be and what features it should have and how much to sell it for.

The reason this works is because when Jobs demands something, it's usually the right thing. If he made a habit of insisting on things nobody wanted or liked, he wouldn't be able to get away with being an asshole.

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796548)

"Free software designs consistently trounce commercial offerings" ?? Ever actually used MS Office for something non-trivial. It beats the pants off Openoffice. Or maybe you think Gimp is even remotely close to being competitive with Photoshop. Not by a long shot if you're doing anything even half-way serious.

"Package management on free systems is nearly flawless" Gee, the last several times I've tried to install an RPM I've been crushed by bugs (can only install a user package as root) or dependencies that were in no way automatically resolved. Maybe I'm just out of date, but the click-and drag program installation on my mac sure doesn't have those problems.

Re:They don't understand because they are wrong. (1)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796800)

I hereby donate my sig-line to you. You are one high motherfucker.

In case I should change it:
I don't know what kind of crack I was on, but I suspect it was decaf.

Wow, guess it's not just me (1, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796152)

After reading that I felt the way people looked after watching the movie 'swordfish' in the theaters. A profound WTF? look on their faces as they left the theater. Like him or not, Steve has managed to do what others have not. In business, if you're making money they call that 'doing it right'.

Dr Spok told millions of Americans the 'right' way to raise their kids. Turns out he got rich doing it wrong too. According to the investors, Apple is doing it right, management style be damned. I don't even like Apple products but they appeal to a certain percentage of the world in a way that makes them popular. I fail to see how that is doing it wrong.

Ms Spears is doing it wrong but Steve seems to have a pretty firm grip on the clue bat.

Evil Works (4, Insightful)

thomas.galvin (551471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796154)

I think the point of the article is that evil works, if evil is also very good at what it does.

The whole point in allowing many different people to tackle a problem is to eliminate single-point-of-failure. If one company's product blows, we can choose another's. This is very important, both to the consumer, and to the market as a whole.

But when one company is the best at what they do, people stop thinking about choice. If apple makes the best mp3player/music store, why go anywhere else? If their operating system is so good, who cares if it only runs on their hardware... as long as their hardware is great, too?

Unfortunately, even evil geniuses sometimes fail. For instance, the iPhone SDK... I honestly don't see that going anywhere, unless the current license agreement is modified to something less draconian.

Re:Evil Works (3, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796206)

The problem with the article, of course, is that there is nothing evil about any of it. It's just another terrible exaggeration, diluting the word until it becomes meaningless.

And if you don't see the iPhone SDK going anywhere, you don't have much vision. Just sayin.

Re:Evil Works (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796268)

Jobs is good enough to pull off his "asshole" routine. This doesn't mean
that it can work for anyone else. It also may not work for any other
company. It happens to work for Jobs and Apple (apparently).

On a similar note, there are plenty of people that are "google wannabes".
They will pick up on something they've heard about Google's management
style. They will try to implement it and be full of themselves. It ends
up being a big fiasco of course because such people are just kidding
themselves. They don't have the talent to be managers at Google or
Apple.

Re:Evil Works (5, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796492)

Thank you. I was wondering if I was the only one who thought that. I have a friend who worked at Apple, and quit because upper management was evil and insane. From the stories I heard about her particular project, I can only wonder how anything gets accomplished there. What Apple's success tells me is that Apple's management methods of screaming at employees and "hero-shithead rollercoasters" (to quote the article) yield results not because the management methods themselves are working, but because there is a bona-fide genius at the helm whose micromanagement is genuinely better than whatever else a group of people could come up with. I also think that this works only because Apple produces Steve Jobs products. Jobs at the helm of IBM would be a complete disaster.

In short, Wired is trying to make Steve Jobs' business management methods into something that can work for everybody, which is complete and utter idiocy. If they'd have any experience with business management, they'd know that. What we have here is a person who is good enough with product development, deal making and personal leadership that he can overcome his absolutely craptastic management skills. Jobs is not a manager, he is a dictator. Just because he is a good one doesn't mean that you become good by emulating him. You need the rest of his skills as well.

I also agree that what works for Google is unlikely to work across the board for others. You create management strategies around the people you have. If you can't do that, you need to hire people who fit your management style. But you cannot impose management strategies on people who don't respond to those strategies. That's just a disaster in the making.

Re:Evil Works (1)

oobi (620065) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796770)

IMO, his "asshole routine" may be a product of thorough study of group dynamics, sociometry, behavioral profiling, datamining and the like. When Apple employees get subjected to certain types of managerial behavior, it's possible that it's part of a larger plan to study reactions and adjust accordingly.

Re:Evil Works (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796422)

Another way to say:

Ends do justify the means if the result is good enough.

Better Link (IMHO) (4, Informative)

webword (82711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796176)

Read the entire article on one page... *

http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-04/bz_apple?currentPage=all [wired.com]

So much better than flipping, flipping, flipping through pages and waiting for reloads. It's the print version, so you can use it that way too -- long article so print and read offline.

* = Assumes you plan on actually reading the article. ;-)
 

I should think so.... (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796192)

I'd imagine that there are of course some grade-a asshole management techniques that work, I don't think there has ever been a question as to whether or not they do work. I think the real question is whether or not they work better than management techniques that don't involve the boss being a total douchebag.

Differences with Google are oversold (4, Insightful)

snowwrestler (896305) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796212)

Google runs its servers on Linux, but with propietary tweaks. The Google search ranking algorithm is at least as secret at Apple's product roadmap, and they are no more forthcoming with their product roadmap than Apple is (remember all the random answers and stonewalling that met questions about Google's plans on a mobile phone prior to the Android announcement).

To be a large, public, consumer company you have to keep some things secret for a variety of reasons. You don't want to telegraph strategy to your competitors. You want to release things with a splash to earn unpaid media coverage. You don't want to be held legally liable for stock price movements based on R&D projects that might never get released. etc.

Apple is very closed and secretive about some things, but quite open about others. Like Google their core OS kernel is open source. Like Google they employ commonly available technologies--http, MP3, H264, AAC, Unix, USB, ATA, 802.11, etc.--but put them together in unique ways to create new products.

Re:Differences with Google are oversold (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796502)

Apple is open enough up to a point. At least you can accomodate yourself to them.
OTOH, the process of doing this can be rather annoying. Ensuring that all of your
video data will "play nice" with Apple can be a considerable chore rather than
just having Apple be accomodating enough to handle whatever you throw at it.

Err (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796242)

Microsoft is evil. Apple is just different. And it works really well, for both of them. Google, for its part, is mostly not evil. Then there is Yahoo and any other business doing things involving the free flow of information in China. All of them become evil in ways Microsoft* would blush about.

--
* at least, their non-China divisions

Homage disguised as a Story (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796252)

Homage in this usage means, "allegiance or respect for one's feudal lord."

I want the minutes back I wasted on that story.
 

Success isn't deterministic (1, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796256)

Luck plays a role. If Apple hadn't come up with the iPod and used its' UI skills to make it very attractive, the company would be dead.

I don't think you can call the iPod a reliable result of make'em bleed management style. Yes, it can and did happen. But I doubt as likely as under a more open system.

Re:Success isn't deterministic (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796794)

Not really.

the iPod is not their saviour product. The problem is very few people get exposed to the Apple line. I recently let a big customer borrow my apple TV for a week. He's a huge Microsoft fan and has Media center PC's in every room.

When I went to his house yesterday to install a new 58" set in his bedroom and asked if I can pick up my apple Tv he said. "How many of those do you have in stock?" He is buying 12 of them for his home replacing the media center PC's as the appleTv product kicks the ever living crap out of windows Media center.

The fact you can "rent" a HD movie for $4.99 was his biggest love of the device. His wife loves that she can "buy" lost right away as well.

If Apple had more exposure to people so they can actually TRY their stuff, they would kill Microsoft and everyone else overnight.

Problem is, Apple doesnt have a "try it for a week for free" program, and your experience at the apple store is sanitized at best.

Drink the Kool-Aid (2, Interesting)

Silentknyght (1042778) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796312)

They may produce products that people want, but that doesn't mean working there is a good experience. I'm guessing that there's alot of voluntary Kool-Aid drinking done by the employees to coninve themselves that the hostile working environment is what it takes to succeed. Also, see "stockholm syndrome" for the workplace.

Re:Drink the Kool-Aid (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796428)

Man, I'm glad I'm not the only one to make a "Guyana Punch" reference in this thread!

At least, I HOPE you know where "Drink the Kool-Ade" comes from...

Leadership, not totalitarianism (4, Insightful)

boristdog (133725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796374)

Jobs may be a dick, but he's also a natural leader, which is always more important.

I'm not a fan of Apple, nor of Mr. Jobs, but he has some serious leadership skills. The fact that he's also a dick is not a factor in his success. Apparently his leadership can outshine his dickishness.

Fortunately Mr. Jobs decided to start a computer company instead of a religious cult in Guyana. Who knows what Jim Jones' "Kool-Ade OS" might have been like had he chosen a different path.

Been there (4, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796376)

I've worked for an Apple supplier, and it's a bit creepy to have someone take mug shot of you because "Mr. Jobs wants to know what you look like." Not as creepy as getting a phone call at home late at night because they want hand-holding, but creepy.

"Management" is not "Evil" (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796392)

It's hard to see how any of this would have happened had Jobs hewed to the standard touchy-feely philosophies of Silicon Valley. Apple creates must-have products the old-fashioned way: by locking the doors and sweating and bleeding until something emerges perfectly formed. It's hard to see the Mac OS and the iPhone coming out of the same design-by-committee process that produced Microsoft Vista or Dell's Pocket DJ music player. Likewise, had Apple opened its iTunes-iPod juggernaut to outside developers, the company would have risked turning its uniquely integrated service into a hodgepodge of independent applications -- kind of like the rest of the Internet, come to think of it.


None of that stuff Apple does is "evil". And it's not at all unusual among Silicon Valley companies. In fact, the two corporate giants Kahney measures Apple against, Intel and Dell, are neither Silicon Valley corporations. They're both Texan. And of course they design their leading products by strict management of extremely creative individuals, not "design by committee".

None of that is "evil". And it's not really "old fashioned", or "Industrial Revolution". It's how successful corporations manage invention.

But why should someone writing for _Wired_ magazine know that? _Wired_, since its inception, has always been wrong about everything. Its analysis is always totally wrong, and even inconsistent. All _Wired_ has ever gotten right is knowing where the cool action is happening, but never able to do anything like that itself.

That's why its reporters will whine about how hard it is to find parking at Apple after 10AM, and manifest their jealousy of Steve Jobs in whining about how Jobs will park his Mercedes wherever he wants.

And it's why those reporters can't get jobs at Apple: they're neither creative, hardworking nor right enough to do anything but write technoporn. Which, while pretending to have standing to arbitrate about Apple's management "morality", actually approaches the kind of watered-down evil that is jealousy, conceit and stubborn wrongness.

Re:"Management" is not "Evil" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796504)

And it's why DocRuby doesn't matter: he's neither creative, hardworking nor right enough to do anything but write snarky comments on SlashDot. Which, while pretending to have standing to arbitrate about the other's "morality", actually approaches the kind of watered-down evil that is jealousy, conceit and stubborn wrongness.

There - fixed that for you.

Mod -1: disinformative (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796604)

In fact, the two corporate giants Kahney measures Apple against, Intel and Dell, are neither Silicon Valley corporations.
Smooth move, Sherlock. Intel was founded in 1968 in Silicon Valley (Santa Clara, in particular) as a spinoff from Fairchild.

Corporate HQ is still there. Maybe you were thinking of AMD?

Re:"Management" is not "Evil" (3, Informative)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796664)

Dell is Texan, but Intel was created in and is still HQ'ed in Silicon Valley, with origins in Fairchild Semiconductor, a seminal Silicon Valley firm. It's about as Silicon Valley as you can get.

Didn't make it past the first page (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796406)

After this little gem:

Likewise, had Apple opened its iTunes-iPod juggernaut to outside developers, the company would have risked turning its uniquely integrated service into a hodgepodge of independent applications -- kind of like the rest of the Internet, come to think of it.
Yeah, and who the hell's ever heard of this "rest of the Internet" thing.

The real difference (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796412)

Say what you like about Steve Jobs. But he has _taste_.

If CxOs are thinking of being the "the red-faced, tyrannical boss" they better not forget that important point. They're not going to do much good if they do the tyrannical part without the taste part. In fact to emulate Apple I bet the tyrannical part is optional, the taste part isn't[1]. And the taste part is _hard_ to emulate.

Jobs knows the difference between good and great. Whereas most CxOs (or people in general) can't even seem to tell the difference between good and bad :).

The typical committee might take weeks to tell you whether a piece of chocolate tastes good or not, much less even get around to the way it _looks_.

The Techs? Many of the good ones might come with great _technical_ architectures and designs - but when the customer looks at it and tries to use it, it IS a piece of crap from their PoV.

So even if the Techs at Apple don't like his abusive micromanagement, I bet they _respect_ it because Steve Jobs has taste.

They can be confident that even if he's deciding on the "curve of a monitor's corners":
1) The decision is based on making an "insanely great"[2] product (not a crony richer, or more powerful)
2) He is 90% likely to be right about what the market will like.
3) If he yells at you, it's not _just_ because he's an asshole, deep down you know know he is right - that what you just showed him is only suitable as "blah stuff" from Dell...

Many (not all) techs can accept assholes who are right most of the time.

Thing is I wonder whether it's a bit like abused spouse syndrome for them ;).

[1] That said, I think a lot of people with taste AND an obsessive eye for detail tend to get very upset when stuff misses the mark.
[2] Yes I know their products aren't really insanely great.

Re:The real difference (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796568)

I think that's the key point here. Most of the people who work for Jobs are
themselves blunt assholes with strong technical skills. Jobs isn't just some
suit with a big ego. He's very much like the people he's leading. He's his
own sort of geek.

He's an alpha geek. So it probably doesn't bother the rest of the geeks
that work for him that he does the alpha male thing.

I worked for a guy that was a pretender in this regard. He tried to play
the role of alpha male and really wasn't. I found it grating and had and
odd instinctive urge to violently depose him for the good of the rest of
the pack. I found it all highly bizarre.

charlie and the chocolate factory (5, Funny)

varmint jerky (810306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796486)

For years I've felt that Steve Jobs is kind of like Willy Wonka. You remember what happens when you cross Willy Wonka? Next thing you know, you're a freakin' snozzberry.

The simple summary (1)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796520)

In essence, this article can be summarized in a simple sentence: Steve Jobs knows what you want better than you do.

It sounds negative at first, almost damning, but it's the simple, honest truth. Apple has ignored focus groups and analysts and tech media and pressed ahead with what Jobs thinks is best. With the exception of a few minor blunders here and there (the cube is the only one readily springing to mind, but I'm sure others could provide their own examples), Apple's strategy has been paying off handsomely since 1997.

Hell, it's so well known that Slashdot even has its own recurring joke regarding our own inability to predict what we wanted in an mp3 player better than Apple.

It's a lesson that the rest of the business world might want to take to heart, but then they'd have to find their own Steve.

Re:The simple summary (3, Insightful)

oobi (620065) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796624)

i respectfully disagree, IMO Apple utilizes all the tools at their disposal, and that includes focus groups, sociometrics, psychodrama, datamining. It's too important to leave to chance, there is too much at stake ($$) alot is riding on these secretive decisions. The competition is doing this.

Slashdot editors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22796532)

An anonymous reader submitted Wired's

"look at how Steve Jobs' unusual and abrasive management style works. Included is also two cool added stories around this one.Management Techniques From the Dark Side; Wired.com compiles a list of counterintuitive, suspicious-seeming and downright evil management techniques that actually work."
Seriously the editing here is unbelievable. I'm not being fussy. It took three or four reads to understand that article summary.
  • You can't finish a sentence with a quote which spans multiple lines. It took me a while to realise that the first sentence of the article and the first sentence of the quote were supposed to run together.
  • "Included is also two cool added stories.." really doesn't make sense. Try "Also included are two cool stories...".
  • I interpreted "one.Management" as a company trademark. Try inserting spaces between your sentences.
  • "Management Techniques From the Dark Side; Wired.com...". That's an interesting way to start a sentence. It's also quite confusing. Try using a long dash or colon instead of a semicolon. Putting the article name in quotes might help.

TLDR version (1)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796538)

"The beatings will continue until morale improves."

Sociometrics, focus groups and datamining (1)

oobi (620065) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796552)

Lots of tools at Steve Job's disposal these days which assist him in arriving at decisions. For example, during Apple Retail Store training, you might plant scripted actors amongst the employee-trainees to better access their authentic feelings and reactions to certain types of management styles. This goes on every where, everyday: whether joining a large church group or volunteering for jury duty.

How? (1, Interesting)

eepok (545733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796572)

They made it pretty. They made it look clean. They made it look like a decoration, not a tool.

PC enthusiasts see their PCs as classic muscle cars. They like to work on them themselves, show power (for less cost), and use it for utility and entertainment.

Apple enthusiasts see their PCs as cute little pets. They like to show them off. They can do tasks for which the Apple was bred, but not much else-- but that's OK because Apple enthusiasts by their computers to serve specific purposes.

I guess (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796668)


If thats really your thing, I mean, if you want to work for a maniacal tyrant who micromanages every product you work on, who uses you and spits you out, and insists that you should feel "lucky" to work for his company. I mean, really, if thats your thing, go for it. You probably like to be whipped in bed too.

As for me, I'm not the company I work for, and I'm not the building I work in. I demand higher standards from my employer, and, I get them. Its a two-way street, zealots.

Not everything right, just what matters (1, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796722)

Apple has succeeded primarily because they have some brilliant marketing folks working for them. While I personally cannot STAND Apple ads (and any ad targeted towards my age group in general, the 18-34s) they obviously have done something right.

In just a few short years, Apple has built a tremendous following of rabid fanboys/girls. While I don't subscribe to the fanboy-ish attitude, and while Apple fanboys seem to be the worst of the kind, there is no denying what the company has achieved. They have created a product line seen as being "on the cutting edge of trends", and doing so means big sales and big money.

The question I wonder about is, how long can Apple keep this up? What will they do to keep adding to their empire? They have been hugely successful with the "trendy" types, but what about people like me, the so called "social outcasts"? What about the folks that choose to be anti-trend not because they want to be different, but because they don't like the stigma that goes along with it? What about those for who advertising like what Apple does makes them want to use the products even LESS?

If Apple wants to truly expand their size and market penetration, they need to figure out how to convince folks like myself to move over to them. I hate the image that goes along with pulling a MacBook Air out of a manila folder...and I hate that being a part of the Apple community means sharing space with people who go apeshit when you make a single observation about the negative aspects that Apple's products sometimes have.

For those that wish to moderate me troll or flamebait, go right ahead. You are the exact reason why I refuse to stand next to you and instead choose to stand with my back to Apple and to it's users.

Apple is in the console business (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22796732)

Don't compare Apple with Dell. Compare it with Sony or Nintendo. Those companies are equally closed and secretive. Akio Morita (1921-1999) was Sony's founder and the equivalent of Steve Jobs. Sony hasn't been doing too well since Morita died.

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