Apple’s goal is not to make money, it’s to make the best possible personal computers in all shapes and sizes

“The quality of a user experience has no ceiling. As nearly every other consumer industry has shown, as long as there is a clear delineation between the top-of-the-line and everything else, some segment of the user base will pay a premium for the best,” Ben Thompson writes for Stratechery. “That’s the key to Apple’s future: they don’t need completely new products every other year (or half-decade); they just need to keep creating the best stuff in their categories. Easy, right?”

“The fundamental reason the company has thrived even with Jobs’ untimely death, is the total commitment to building the best possible personal computers (all of the iOS devices, including the Watch, fit here). Being competent at wildly disparate businesses just because you have the financial wherewithal to do so is in direct opposition to this ethos. It is a perfect example of trying to kill the goose laying golden eggs,” Thompson writes. “Low end disruption is real, and it is a threat, and Apple’s only defense is to be the best. And being the best at anything requires total dedication and yes, focus.”

Our goal isn’t to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth…Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal. – Jony Ive

Thompson writes, “what if you took Ive at his word? What if you realized that Apple, for its entire 38 year existence, has been focused on building the best possible personal computers?4 Sure, those computers have become ever more personal, but the drive to be the best is a constant. Would you really advocate something different [such as buying Tesla, Twitter, and/or Pinterest]? If so, then, I guess, and despite my reputation, you are a far greater skeptic of disruption than I.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Joe Architect” for the heads up.]


    1. Sure, and later in the article, the author does fault Apple for putting hardware and its schedules ahead of OS and services development. Ben Thompson is a hard-headed Apple critic.

      Unfortunately, the MDN summary garbles the real message:—HOW to explain Apple’s continuing success? Wall Street sure can’t, the analysts can’t, and even Clayton Christensen insists doom is right around the corner.

      Ben Thompson, however, improves Christensen’s disruption theory by adding a third postulate, that user satisfaction has no ceiling. And that’s why Apple can thrive indefinitely, provided it keeps its 38-year focus.

  1. ‘To me, Apple exists in the spirit of the people that work here, and the sort of philosophies and purpose by which they go about their business. If Apple just becomes a place where computers are a commodity item and where the romance is gone, and where people forget that computers are the most incredible invention that man has ever invented, then I’ll feel I have lost Apple. But if I’m a million miles away and all those people still feel those things and they’re still working to make the next great product, then I will feel that my genes are still in there.’

    ‘Steve Jobs Bio: The Unauthorized Autobiography.’

  2. Bull. If that was the case iTunes would be better every version instead of more disappointing. Same with the hardware. Soldered ram. Engineered short lifespans assure return sales to apple that are not really necessary. iOS code that makes a few year old machines worthless etc. Apple could do list better. They have the money to build much better software and hardware. To me they have always been just a step above the competition. I expect more from the most valuable company. But it’s the stock holders that control apples real product decisions especially since Steve is gone. Just like any public company it’s the major share holders that are the real customers. .

  3. oh, baloney,

    nobody goes into business not to make money. some do it just for the money, others make money because they make superior products and give superior service.

    you don’t find yourself on the way to becoming a trillion dollar company w/o being good businessmen and squeezing every possible cent out of your suppliers.

    by and large that is what apple has done, but if you go back to the early days of the mac, the mark-up and profits were very high.

    1. It’s not baloney. I was taught that money is a bad motivator at business school. Companies that focus on money often don’t make lots of money because they’ll always look for ways to cut corners and weaken their products for an extra buck. Those that focus on creating great products and services people want sell lots of products and services and thus make money. Hard for most people to wrap their minds around that, but it’s true. Steve Jobs’ created Apple to empower individuals through technology — not to get rich. Accomplish that, and Apple will always have plenty of money, but that’s not the main point.

  4. People are misinterpreting this quote just like the Steve Jobs’ Good artists copy, quote.

    Of course making a profit is a goal at Apple, but it’s an Indirect Goal. The direct goal is to make great products and as a byproduct profits are made. That’s what Steve said a long time ago was a revelation to him. By focusing on making great products, all the other things will come true.

    It’s the same as when Steve would talk about making a great product. Don’t focus on the end-product, and then try to fit all the functionality inside. Focus on the functionality and the end-product will evolve naturally.

    Of course I’m paraphrasing, but those were the things I would hear Steve mention constantly in his interviews.

    1. ‘What happened at Apple over the years was, the goal used to be to make the best computers in the world, that was goal one. Goal two we got from Hewlett-Packard actually, which was we had to make a profit. Because if we don’t make a profit we can’t do goal one. So yeah we enjoyed making a profit, but the purpose of making a profit was so we could make the best computers in the world.’

      ‘Steve Jobs Bio: The Unauthorized Autobiography.’

      1. That was true in the Jobs era, the current management team appears to have decided to coast on past greatness and refocused on the shareholder. This will ultimately push even the most loyal customer away. Make great products and have the best customer experience and your customers will take care of the companies future. Treat your customers like a cash cow and they will mooove along.

  5. @Bandit Bill: I was thinking the same thing. You could also apply this to the current Dustbin style Mac Pro. If either of these were the *best* they would blow the competition out of the water. The only way they do this is in respect of price…..

    Like I’ve said before, if MS got their act together and came up with a total rewrite of Windows on the lines of a Unix type OS with security and performance at its heart, there’s an awful lot of people would dump Macs.

    There comes a point where the price/performance ratio becomes way too great to ignore.

    1. I’m not sure people are understanding the new Mac Pro. If all you’re doing is single core work, you’re not going to get any benefit from it, buy the 5k iMac. If you are using all cores and the 2 GPUs (my pros are brilliant for C4D, maya, nuke, AE terminal render) then it’s more than worth the price. It’s tiny, it’s quiet, and the stuff they pack in there is *mostly* worth the price if you upgrade yourself. Get the base model with the 700 cards, upgrade the ram (32 gig $350) and the CPU (10 core $2000, 12 core $2500 at newegg) and you have a killer work machine that you can place on your desk next to you. Apple doesn’t make a striped down render machine, and they never have. There’s no profit in it for them. “Best” in this case is the total package, not the separate parts.

  6. Great! If Apple really desires to produce great products – How about Fixing:

    iWork – read the reviews on the App Store.

    Yosemite – Again read the reviews on the App Store. Over 50% of the most recent 500 reviews are negative!

    Soldered RAM where it is not necessary. Forcing users to pay nearly twice the price of Amazon for additional RAM.

    Charging twice the price Amazon charges for SSDs. Apple buys SSDs on a massive scale at a much lower cost than individuals can purchase an SSD. However, Amazon who also buys massive amounts of SSDs and retails them at half the cost of Apple.

    Deleting Songs purchased elsewhere.

    1. If only Apple was perfect. But then again, if only anything was perfect. The world is a lot more complicated than the simplicity of perfect, for better or worse.

      Around here, we praise Apple, AND we beat on Apple when they blunder. That’s what it’s about IMHO and is why I stick around.

  7. “…if MS got their act together and came up with a total rewrite of Windows on the lines of a Unix type OS with security and performance at its heart, there’s an awful lot of people would dump Macs.”

    MS has had nearly 15 years since the introduction of OS X. What, pray tell, is holding them up?

  8. I believe that is Apple’s goal. One does not always reach their goal, or more often Apple’s goal may not be everyone’s goal. What is the best for most may not be considered the best for others. Apple strives to make the best products for the “rest of us,” often eliminating what many don’t need, and providing things many don’t realize they want until they are there. This is not a safe approach, it often angers “power” users, and there are short term glitches. Overall, however, the results speak for themselves, that is why the world tries to emulate their products, if not outright steal their designs.

  9. Most of the Greats, no matter what their profession/expertise may be, their goals in life was to be or create the best. The fact that many, as a society, measure success(es) by how much they make/made, has little bearing on what their primary goals were. Now if we examine those that primarily focus their endeavours financially, most achieve nothing that we will or won’t want to remember them by.

    As for those who criticise Apple’s achievements because it is not backward compatible or it doesn’t live up to their expectations, I would love to hear what they have done that is so great, infallible and unsurpassed.

    And I’ll wager, that your mothers/spouses still have to remind you to take out the garbage every week. Unless of course, your mouths are so full of it, it goes out every time you leave the house.

  10. Apple indeed produced a great, outstanding product – the New Mac Pro ! It is a Masterpiece Machine…
    It earned the “The Best of The Best” award by Red Dot Design Awards!
    And also, recently, the Grand Award for innovation 2014 !!!

    1. Outstanding until one realizes its limitations. It’s a fine niche product but it doesn’t address whole swathes of the market that needs more customization, different packaging, or better value.

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