Lessons from Apple: How to Innovate through Simplicity

The key thing that made the difference between success and failure at Apple versus Next, or say versus IBM, Dell, Intel and others was that at Apple, Jobs was able to deliver the simplicity principle – namely, the ability to deliver complex products or concepts in a simple to use, easy to understand and marketable way, making them stand out against competitors.  

“I’m an ad person so I know very little of what you do,” he told the audience, “but I do know that the strategy of keeping things simple works. It works because the world isn’t simple but when you make something simple it stand outs [and succeeds].”

Segall discussed how Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy when Jobs returned to the company he’d founded and how “14 years later it was the most valuable company on the face of the planet”, inviting the treasurers in the audience to draw the natural conclusion to strive for simplicity.

He also shared some amusing Jobs stories and invited the audience to participate in a call and response guessing game about alternative names that were considered for the revolutionary iPhone product. iTalk was the red herring entry alongside Mobi, TriPod, TelePod and the iPad. The latter iPad name was famously used elsewhere of course, but the preceding three names were also actively under consideration because Cisco actually had a product called the iPhone back in 2007 in a different area so there were some legal concerns about whether Apple could use the name. These were clearly resolved.  

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