“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was one of the greatest disruptive innovators of all time. His innovations completely changed how all of us function on a daily basis. We think of Steve Jobs as a technology innovator, but think about his innovations beyond technology such as supply chain, business model and process innovation.
Apple has built an effective innovation system to harness creativity in its people, stimulate new ideas, streamline design process, and launch successful, profitable new innovations.
Apple has always shipped its own proprietary software. What Steve recognized earlier than any other computer make that the value of the computer comes from the software, not the case or power supply. Apple has always been a system integrator, a crucial approach to open innovation in component-based industries.
The Apple 1, II, Macintosh and other products were made out standardized components, including CPUs from MOS Technology and Motorola. With the rise of global supply chains during the 1990s we take that for granted that this is normal, but it was certainly not normal in the 1960s and 1970s for market leading computer companies like IBM and DEC.
Apple is not just beating its rivals through superiority in design; Steve Jobs’ deep experience in hardware mass has been brought to bear in creating an unrivaled exclusive supply chain of advanced technology literally years ahead of anyone else on the planet.
The supply chain model is changing. Everyone today wants to be like Apple. What’s the secret? There are a few reasons. First, Apple has remarkably few products. Apple is so focused on what it does best, it’s able to streamline its operations and specialize in doing what it does better than anyone else. Because it has such a small product lineup, Apple can also develop exclusive relationships with its suppliers. Material for their product comes from 3 countries: Taiwan, Singapore and USA, traveling to China to be assembled, inventoried, and then fulfilled to retailers and to customers via purchases from the Apple Store.
Today we are reading about Steve Job as an innovator. I don’t really see his product innovation prowess as the characteristic that sets him apart from the rest. It was his ability to pull it all together–design, manufacturing, cost, supply chain, marketing, financing, distribution–all of it. And he did it with genuine passion for creating a better quality of life.
The few individuals who have the ability to innovate and create things that we didn’t realize we needed–and then deliver them on a massive scale in a way that impacts millions of people’s lives–are those very rare people who will be admired for generations: Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford … Steve Jobs