Apple’s Phil Schiller: Steve Jobs’ onstage clown and backstage confidant

“Steve Jobs always oversaw Apple’s blockbuster product launches, but he was never a one-man show,” Peter Burrows and Adam Satariano report for Businessweek. “Phil Schiller, the company’s longtime senior vice president of product marketing, often hammed it up onstage as the lower-brow counterweight to Apple’s cool, polished chief executive officer. In 1999, Schiller jumped off a 15-foot platform to show off Apple’s new iBook. In 2007, he demoed new videoconferencing features by superimposing his mouth on a photo of Steve Ballmer. ‘I love my Mac!’ Schiller had the Microsoft chief declare.”

“Offstage, Schiller wasn’t a clown but one of Jobs’s most trusted, influential lieutenants. He helped Apple’s late CEO work through the meat-and-potatoes of creating new products: Defining target markets, determining technical specs, setting prices,” Burrows and Satariano report. “It was Schiller who came up with the spin-wheel interface on the original iPod, and he was a champion of the iPad when other executives questioned its potential. ‘Because Phil’s title is marketing, people believe he’s focused on what’s on the billboards,’ says Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray. ‘He’s much more important than people give him credit for.’ Since Jobs’s death in October, perhaps no Apple executive other than CEO Tim Cook is under more pressure to fill the void.”

Burrows and Satariano report, “Schiller channeled Jobs’s perspective so consistently that he was known within Apple as Mini-Me. He found the nickname flattering and kept a cutout of the Austin Powers character in his office. Like Jobs, he is ruthlessly disciplined when it comes to choosing new products or features, which has yielded another nickname: Dr. No, for his penchant to shoot down ideas, according to one former manager.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Attribution: Macworld UK. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

13 Comments

    1. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer likes to clown it up on stage, shooting folding chairs out of a cannon, tripping over his size 18 neon wingtips, gesticulating and wobbling, fat fingers pointing menacingly, ejecting spittle and babbling like a cretin with his painted-on leer.

      1. Ballmer is an embarrassment to Humanity. Schiller is a competent, intelligent, and a pillar of support for Apple’s corporate structure. Comparing the two is an insult to Schiller.

        1. Anyone who has to encourage an audience to begrudgingly “get up” while they half-heartedly cheer for him on stage, has gotten no respect.

          And then at the 0:55 mark, they applaud out of embarrassment just to cover up his awful panting.

          Sad.

    2. Phil Schiller is merely a kid at heart and enjoys goofing around, yet he is a balanced individual uniquely dedicated. Apple has a great team.

  1. “It was Schiller who came up with the spin-wheel interface on the original iPod,…”
    I’m sure he had a B&O Beocom1/2/3/4/5 or 6000 from 10+ years ago that already had a spin wheel interface. I’ve never understood how B&O has never had any recognition for having this function years before the iPod. I’m guessing that Steve arranged it with them. Interestingly, I just got a mailer from B&O that was effectively a 6 page ad for Apple products.

    1. Uh, yeah, but isn’t it just a dial? Like on 1950’s tv’s? Turn it to change the preference, and when you get to the end it goes around again. Like a volume dial on a car, like a dial on most anything.

      So no need tomreference the maloola 2000 from 12 years ago or whatever. It’s a dial used to great effect. No?

  2. — I’ve said it before:
    because Jobs was smart, competent and self confident he surrounded himself with great people.

    STUPID, incompetent CEO’s never dare to hire great people because they are worried smart people will threaten their (shaky) positions. The Board might decide to get rid of the lousy CEO and replace him/her with a SVP! A moron will surround himself with morons.

    — it’s interesting that articles come out saying how each senior exec is so close to Jobs:

    — Cook is the ‘other side of Steve’
    — Ive is ‘as close as ‘lovers’ , sharing ‘the same mind’ as Steve
    — Forstall is the ‘sorcerer’s Apprentice’ ( even drives the same car as Steve).
    — now Shiller is the Steve ‘mini me’!

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