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Jobs and Apple

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BITS & BYTES / SURIT DOSS   |     |   Published 29.08.11, 12:00 AM

I have never met Steve Jobs. I watched in awe whenever he spoke. To me he is a cool guy, daring to leave college and inventing great products.

I still want to meet him. I was twice invited by Apple to London and watch him speak live on a giant screen, but I could not get a visa at such short notice.

A lot has already been reported on Apple and Tim Cook, his successor. Apple will survive and even become better as long as Steve Jobs remains chairman of the board. The team he has built is solid.

Scott Forstall, senior VP, iOS software, leads the team responsible for delivering the software at the heart of Apple’s revolutionary iPhone, including user interface, applications, frameworks and operating system.

Jonathan Ives, senior VP, leads one of the world’s best industrial design teams. The others on Job’s team are Ron Johnson, senior VP of retail; Bob Mansfield of Mac hardware engineering; Peter Oppenheimer, chief financial officer; Philip W. Schiller, senior VP worldwide product marketing; Bruce Sewell, senior VP and chief counsel; and Jeff Williams, senior VP, operations. Each of them is one of the best in their profession.

But still keen Apple watcher Sanjay Chordia, Apple’s Premium Reseller with retail store Imagine at Salt Lake and Rajarhat, is really upset that Jobs has stepped down. “Tim Cook, the new CEO looks good, but we will know for sure only after 2013 how good he truly is.” Because Jobs will have charted the course for Apple for at least the next two years.

Who is Tim Cook?

Apple’s Indian fans probably have nothing to worry about. Every indication is that Cook will be a successful CEO. For starters, Jobs handpicked him and Cook has been running the day-to-day operations of the company since January, when his boss took a leave of absence for health reasons.

He also steered the company for several months in 2004 and in 2009 while Jobs underwent surgery. He was so successful that he was awarded a $5 million bonus following Jobs’ return in March 2009. It was during Cook’s term that Apple was outsourced to Asia. He is looked on as a guy that gets things done and this may be good news for India.

Cook has been with Apple since 1998, just two years after Jobs returned to rescue Apple from the abyss it had fallen into. Cook started as senior vice-president of operations; before joining Apple, he worked in operations at Compaq, had a brief stint at Intelligent Electronics, and spent 12 years in several positions at IBM, including heading the company’s manufacturing and distribution division.

Cook is a supply chain specialist. Indians were livid that after the release of iPhone 3G there was no sign of iPhone 4. Even the iPhone 3G S made its India debut pretty late. It is no coincidence that it was under Cook’s temporary stewardship that the iPad 1 and iPad 2 came to India soon after their release in the West and at affordable prices too.

Why are Apple products so well designed? In 2005, I read a report on a speech Jobs gave at Stanford University. I believe every one should read it. It’s the story of a young man who chased his dreams against all odds. He revealed that though he had dropped out of college after six months, he attended classes that interested him for another 18 months.

Reed College, which Jobs attended, at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the US. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed.

Because he had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, Jobs decided to take a calligraphy class. He learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great.

“...Ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac... If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them.”

What really helped Jobs through his ups and downs was his passion for what he did. His advice to the students? “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary. Stay hungry, stay foolish, I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.” Can Tim Cook, can anyone, match the brilliance, the creative genius of this man? I wonder.

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