Jean-Louis Gassée: Steve Jobs remade Apple into the best-managed high-tech giant – and an arbiter of taste

“Until the last sinew, the last synapse gives up, Steve will continue to influence the company he co-founded and later recreated,” Jean-Louis Gassée writes for The Guardian.

“Seeing he could no longer ‘meet [his] duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO,’ Jobs kicks himself upstairs and becomes chairman, director, and ‘mere’ Apple employee,” Gassée writes. “In a distant future, I see him haunting the circular hallways of Apple’s Cupertino spaceship, the Commendatore hunting the clock punchers and damning the linear thinkers straight to hell.”

“For a long time, I’ve seen him as having an animal inside him, the one with the desires, the instinct, the drive. In 1985, that animal threw Steve to the ground. He picked himself up at Pixar – you’d be a captain of industry for doing no more – and NeXT. Then, in 1997, armed with Pixar’s success and Next’s technical prowess, he came back to run Apple and make it really his,” Gassée writes. “He had learned to ride the animal.”

Gassée writes, “Spanning an amazing arc of 30 years, the company with the anti-establishment image has become the most disciplined, best-managed high-tech giant – and arbiter of taste.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Gassee was an important mentor to Jobs – there is a story about how he gave Steve a disassembled Sony CD Walkman, afixed to a plaque, to help him appreciate the engineering necessary to make things small and portable. I think it is possible that Gassee could yet again play a role at Apple.

      1. Gruber’s a leftist idiot and a good example of the mindless ideological adoration of Apple that we see so often from Apple haters, only with the polarity reversed.

        It is important to be abel to stick to the rational, the facts, the arguments, and these are presented by Gassee and Dideu (the asymco guy, sorry for getting the name wrong.)

        Gruber couldn’t argue his way out of a paper bag.

        It is not enough that he’s an apple fan.

        1. Mr. Gruber has a certain political leaning, which he likes to express in his own blog with his own dime and time as he sees fit. Idiot, he is hardly that, on any count anyway.

          You, OTOH, judging solely from this comment of yours (calling someone an “idiot” and suffering from “mindless ideological adoration of Apple,” without offering any particular facts to justify these views of yours), would need to come up with some strong evidence for yourself, hereon, to convince others of your particular state of intelligence.

          “It is important to be abel [sic] to stick to the rational, the facts, the arguments, and [sic] these are presented by Gassee [sic] and Dideu [sic] (the asymco guy, sorry for getting the name wrong.)”

          You not only got the names wrong, but also stumbled on the grammar, spelling and cohesive flow of that sentence structure.

          I’m an engineer myself; articulating the logical progressions of our arguments and thoughts in plain language doesn’t often seem to be one of our core strengths (I goof up everyday). But you can’t just call someone an idiot, while exposing yourself as a suspect on that very count, and expect to get away with it on a public forum.

          Would it be presumptuous and/or disrespectful of me to suggest that you might make a great Google/MS fan? Just a friendly suggestion, do consider it at least.

  2. Let’s hope not. As I remember, JLG is the one who approved the badly-written contract that basically gave Apple’s crown jewels to Microsoft and fueled the expansion of Windows. Monumental bad judgment is not something I’D like to see at Apple.

    1. One of the great things about Apple and Steve Jobs is that they learned from the many mistakes they made over the years. Possibly JLG did as well; he offers great insight into all things tech.

    2. No- he did not sign away the crown jewels, but I did hear him speak once and his idea was that the Macintosh should be the “Maglite” of computers. That is, high quality and high price. Sell a few, but make lots of money off it. They don’t sell nearly as many Maglites and regular flashlights and, eventually, that’s what happened to the Mac. It became a niche 2% of the market for DTP. I MUCH prefer Jobs’ “consumer appliance” approach (while maintaining the high quality).

  3. Gassee also screwed up the BeOS deal to Apple (when they were looking for a new OS) getting too greedy paving the way for Steve Jobs and NeXT (the future OS X) to save the day. Thanks to Gassee’ greed Apple is where it is today. Way to fail JLG!

    1. Not necessarily true.
      Jobs wasn’t sure he wanted to get back to Apple even a few months prior, as recently surfaced that he was asking for advice from Larry d’Oracle.

      I remember many of us were all salivating at the look and feel of the BeOS, from what we saw at the MacWorld magazine. It didn’t have printer support yet, but looked more like the next evolutionary step up from the Mac OS 7 or 8.

      However, when Steve pitched NeXTSTEP, most of us were all sold on Steve. I was shocked at the time on that $400M sticker price; but as Mr. Gassée has responded on the comments section in this post of his: Apple basically paid to get Steve. Makes perfect sense. How do you compete against that.

      Mr. Gassée doesn’t seem to harbour any ill feelings towards the deal, and he certainly brings a lot of valuable insights into Apple and technology in general. His Monday notes don’t feature any advertisements and he is not a shill (don’t think he owns any Apple stocks either). It appears, he offers his views mostly because he genuine enjoys technology and business; and I find his views as great charitable contributions to my greater understanding of things that matters to me.

      I’ve lived in France for quite a while, and they can be quite logical in their approach to most things from very young age. I consider Mr. Gassée to have one of the sharpest, logical minds around, even for a high french standard.

  4. Good thing Apple didn’t buy BeOS from Gasse and went with NextStep/OpenStep instead. BeOS was a great operating system – it just wasn’t ready to scale the way that NextStep was.

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