"Good marketer"? "HYPE"??
Gentlemen, the changes that Apple underwent when Jobs took over went FAR deeper than just the superficials of marketing and hype. Take a good look at that keynote again. He addresses all of the problems, as well as the strong criticisms of Apple, and there are several moments of sober reality and tough love:
"Get Apple healthy again"
"Apple is executing wonderfully on many of the wrong things"
"The plan has been wrong"
"There just hasn't been a strategy"
Illustrates a loss of revenues over two years of FOUR BILLION DOLLARS.
"Time for a change"
... and then announces that all but two of the Board of Directors have (been forced to?) resigned.
"Very critical time for Apple"
Responds to BOOS and catcalls from the crowd (several times).
"I can't get anybody to give me a definitive market-share of Apple."
It's interesting to note that he points out Apple's dominance in the creative market -- but only specifies graphics and pre-press. But from the commencement of Jobs' new tenure onwards, we all know full well how Apple nurtured -- not invented, mind you -- the maturing of digital video and media integration, both for pros and consumers
. That aint hype; that's making the platform more productive and diversified -- AND making such one-time difficult, esoteric processes accessible to all.
"When is the last time Apple went to Adobe (a crucial third party industry leader of Mac software) and asked them, "What can we do to make a computer that will run Photoshop faster?"
"Who is the largest education company (supplier) in the world?" Only two employees at Apple answered "Apple"
(which he says is indeed the case).
And then... he starts talking about the Microsoft partnership. Man, that was A TOUGH part of the keynote. Check out the reaction to Explorer being the default browser. LOL! And then, the crowd figuratively faints en masse at the news of MS's $150,000,000.00 purchase of Apple stock... until Jobs tells them it is NON-VOTING stock. THEN
, everybody's HAPPY! FREE MONEY RIGHT OUT OF UNCLE BILL'S POCKET!!
Now, some people like
to think that this money from Microsoft saved Apple. Not in the least. Yes, it was a major endorsement by MS of Apple, but had Apple not gotten their act together on all of the fronts that they did that money would have been bled away inside of six months given the losses Apple was reporting every quarter for the two years prior to these changes. And, given MS's major investment in Apple, it was (and always has been) in their best interest to see Apple succeed. Microsoft makes A LOT OF MONEY off of Office/Mac sales.
And more tough love as Jobs neared the end:
"We have to let go that for Apple to win Microsoft has to lose"
That's not hype; that's BLASPHEMY! That's also seemingly uncharacteristic of Jobs. But ya know what? He was right.
"For Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job."
And, let's face it, they were NOT doing a really good job in the early nineties (even the late 1980s, too).
"We need all the help we can get."
Ouuu... feel the hype burnin' on THAT line... NOT!
And if we screw up and don't do a good job, it's not somebody else's fault; it's OUR FAULT.
I'll let that statement speak for itself.
"The era of setting this up as a competition between Microsoft and Apple is over a far as I'm concerned. Apple plus Microsoft equals 100% of the market. Apple and Microsoft are the only players in the desktop market."
Gee. No RDF in effect here...
So... I say that there has been a significant amount of other things
beside just hype that has brought Apple to where it is, today. As you can probably surmise, it irks me to hear people simply leave it at hype. Yes, Jobs is a master at it, but the enthusiasm of the return of the prodigal son would have soon deflated had he not actually made some very difficult decisions, PULLED APPLE TOGETHER and pushed it towards new paradigms. Frankly, Apple probably would not have survived the millennium were it not for Jobs.
Just for interest's sake, go to http://apple-history.com/
and, on the right side of the page, make sure that the product list is sorted by date. Now, reel in horror at the bloated, confusing product lines Apple was saddling themselves from 1993 to 1997.
That's not insanely great; that's just insane!
Too many products. Too many BAD products (Performas, anybody?). Too much of it clogging up their channel inventories. It was A MESS. Within two years of taking over, Jobs totally turned Apple's product line over, not only slashing it down in size but (as we all know) turning the world on its head with new, radical designs -- even pushing out archaic standards (no floppy on iMac, SCSI phased out) and burying almost every proprietary standard Apple had (ADB, AAUI, NuBus) in favour of industry-wide standards. And also, within two years, Apple got their channel inventory down to something like four days worth, which reduced the fiscal drag on the company, significantly.
Personally, I'm surely not alone in saying that I was getting very concerned about Apple before Jobs' return. I bought my first Mac (a ridiculously expensive Powerbook 520) in May of 1995... and then watched in horror as Apple plunged into more than two years of hell. In fact, it was such a hellish experience that seeing a particular Wired Magazine cover on the news stand one day literally made my stomach fall. And, from a Google cache, here it is:
Inside this edition was a major article titled "101 Ways To Save Apple
". i tell ya, it was tough slogging through that article as a newbie Mac fan... but it's a good read, especially through the rear-view mirror that we have, today. Check it out.