The myth of Steve Jobs’ constant breakthroughs

“Steve Jobs didn’t change the world every two years like clockwork, and he was incrementalism’s grand master,” Harry McCracken writes for TIME Magazine. “”Just how many times did Jobs rock the consumer electronics world with a product so innovative that it changed industries forever? In Apple’s first nine years, from 1976-1985, there were two of them: the Apple II and the Macintosh. Maybe three, if you count the LaserWriter laser printer.”

“Just about everybody, I suspect, will agree that the original iPod (2001), iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010) changed industries forever. The original iMac (1998) did, too; you could make the case that it was a triumph of packaging and marketing rather than technology, but its influence is still felt today,” McCracken writes. “Two Apple services also had impact of historic proportions: the iTunes Music Store (2003) and App Store (2008). Let’s add them to the list, too. By my standards, at least, we’ve now covered all of Apple’s seismic shifts that rattled the entire industry forever — the sort of stuff that hasn’t yet happened under Tim Cook’s stewardship.”

McCracken writes, “That’s a total of six industry-changing items, or one every 860 days on average, though the gap was sometimes substantially longer. Now, that’s a remarkable streak. But it’s not a revolution every other year. And Tim Cook has been CEO of Apple for only a little over two years, so there’s nothing deeply troubling about the fact that he hasn’t boiled any oceans yet.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What is this, Recycle MacDailyNews Takes Day?

As we’ve been saying repeatedly since last May:

iPhone was released 5 years, 7 months, and 19 days after iPod.

iPad was released 2 years, 9 months, and 5 days after iPhone.

Tim Cook has been Apple CEO for 2 years, 1 month, and 1 day.


  1. Today is GREEN DAY!
    Green because you recycle or green because of envy or green because you have gone moldy waiting for the next iPhone that will definitely be a paradigm shift of a phone.
    But why would anyone want to boil an ocean?

      1. “AppleInsider” News
        Apple’s iOS 7 now on over 52 percent of devices one week after launch
        The newest version of iOS is off to a roaring start, with iOS 7 now installed on more than half of the tens of millions of iPhones and iPads across North America, according to one study.

        What a nitwit BLN is!

  2. The Apple Store retail brick and mortar facilities, along with the Genius Bar should probably get a mention… Along with the first laptop – the Power Book – since it was the beginning of the move to mobile. I would also probably add the Newton, though Jobs killed it 🙂

  3. Don’t kid yourself: the thinking behind the A7 and M7 is pretty revolutionary. In addition, the use of the speed of the A7 and the “fenced off area” implementing “TouchID” is a stroke of genius.

    TouchID taught me that “security” doesn’t have to be a pain in the a**. If I hadn’t known about the “fenced off area” or if it was first done by anyone other then Apple, I would have had none of it. Apple has previously earned my trust. With their TouchID implementation, they have earned it once again.

  4. To me, the most revolutionary thing Steve Jobs came up with was the idea that technology should be effortless and just work. Lots of DIY types who like to tinker under the hood might disagree with that philosophy. More power to them, but for the rest of us, Apple’s concepts of simplicity and elegance have been helping us get a lot of work done.

  5. Not in the tech field but a few to remember:
    Edwin Land of Polaroid
    Oskar Barnack/Ernst Leitz of Leica
    Charles and Ray Eames of the famous chair, among other things.
    Kelly Johnson of Lockheed
    Igor Sikorsky of helicopter fame
    King Gillette of razors
    Buckmister Fuller
    Frank Lloyd Wright
    Harly Earl, designer of the Corvette and many others.

  6. Harry my boy, you forgot about the NeXT operating system and Pixar CGA films which were brought forth between his two tenures at Apple. Nope, everything he touched was turned to gold. Next you’ll be saying Bill Gates was the real innovator of the computer age.

      1. Steve Jobs had the luxury of heading Apple but what he did not have is “extraordinary” vision of what the future of computers was. Alan Kay described the iPad and what you could do with it in 1972. I described the same thing in 1982.

        The difference between Steve and me is Jobs headed Apple so he could put his vision into practice.

  7. Those apple-can-not-innovate-anymore-or-whatever people do not miss breakthroughs, just the great storyteller, one of the kind guy presenting them, when they are delivered every year (or every few months, if preferred).

    1. Your point about story telling is a good one.

      Steve had a rich narrative of “future think” motivated by an intense desire to improve the lot of all people, by making technological wonders accessible to all, not just special interest groups.

      At every turn, he explained each new advance in simple terms, not specs; showed how ordinary people would benefit; and turned the spotlight on consumers, making them the heroes of this emerging fairy tale come true.

  8. The mistake that Wall Street anal-ists make is believing that Apple should make products for those who ‘invest’ via stock purchases, i.e., fund managers. Apple makes products for those that are ‘invested’ in Apple through purchase and use of Apple products. By the way all the ‘-ists’ practice ‘TAO,’ Talking Out Ass. 🙂

    1. EXACTLY!

      Apple realizes that the customers are not the stockholders, the customers are the people who buy their products.

      Look at Krispy Kreme. The stupid MBAs convinced them to “leverage their brand,” and sell cold, stale donuts at 7-11. Well, they were known for hot, fresh donuts. People who had heard how wonderful Krispy-Kreme donuts were saw some at 7-11, bought them, took one bite, and wondered wtf all the fuss was about. They never bought them again. Krispy-Kreme’s brand was leveraged right down the toilet, and the stock boys made lots of money.

      That’s what the Wall Street assholes want for Apple. “Make a cheap iPhone…”

  9. Steve Jobs was about making technology easy to use.

    Even at that, one can see that it takes years to refine and advance a brand new product, like the iPhone from 2007 to where we are finally almost 7 years after its introduction, to get the near final refinements in place to allow widest possible use of a cell phone communication device.

    Technology evolves. Apple just does it faster than most companies.

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