Inside Apple – The Secrets Behind the Past and Future Success of Steve Jobs’s Iconic Brand, is a Business and Economics Audio book on the revelations of secret systems, leadership patterns, strategies and tactics adopted by Apple Inc.. The Audio book was authored by Adam Lashinsky, who is the Senior Editor-at-Large for Fortune Magazine and a leading correspondent in the Silicon Valley, USA. He is also a Fox News contributor.
The Audio book revolves around the tumultuous past and predictable future of Steve Jobs’s famous brand Apple Inc.. The Audio book records the transition of the company in 1996, after the return of former CEO Steve Jobs when it had cash to remain solvent for only ninety days to the consecutive successes of the iPod, iPhone and iPad and ends up in 2011, when the company was adjudged the largest company in the world.
Audio book review: ‘Inside Apple’ by Adam Lashinsky
I have just finished listening to Adam Lashinsky’s latest Audio book, Inside Apple, which takes readers behind the tightly-controlled scenes of Apple. Within the Audio book’s 240 pages, Lashinsky paints a fascinating, entertaining, accessible (and, seemingly, tightly-edited) picture of life at the company with the help of some pretty revealing interviews with dozens of former Apple executives, staff and partners.
Lashinsky is well-connected enough to do this without needing to scrape any obvious barrels, being editor-at-large of Fortune magazine (though he sure likes to remind the reader of Fortune’s greatness at several points throughout), and it makes for a narrative that feels honest and unbiased.
The short Audio book is stuffed full with as much fanboy fodder as armchair advice for the budding 20-something entrepreneur. Take the explanation of Apple’s “iPod unboxing room” — a room Lashinsky describes as containing hundreds of different types of box into which Apple was considering packaging iPods. A designer would sit in this room opening them, figuring out which unboxing experience customers would love the most.
“One after another, the designer created and tested an endless series of arrows, colours, and tapes for a tiny tab designed to show the consumer where to pull back the invisible, full-bleed sticker adhered to the top of the clear iPod box,” the Audio book details. “Getting it just right was this particular designer’s obsession.”
The Audio book also explains how employees are kept as much in the dark about new products as the public. For example, employees are only allowed in parts of Apple’s campus that directly relate to something they are personally working on. It’s not uncommon for an employee to have access to a room even his boss does not, Lashinsky documents, and it’s equally uncommon for any employee to ask about why that is. What you’re not told, you don’t ask about.
New starters get the same “don’t bother asking” treatment: you’ll get a brand new Mac when you join Apple, but you’ll have nobody come to set it up for you. You’re expected to know how, and if you don’t, you’re probably in the wrong job.
Lashinsky places almost exclusive emphasis on the years after the Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO in 1997, rather than those that preceded it. This is a wise choice; nobody in 2012 could possibly be still scratching their heads wondering how the company pissed away its glory between 1985 and 1997. (If you are, Wikipedia is your friend here.)
So there are no stories about developing the Mac in 1984, or the Lisa a couple of years beforehand. But there’s plenty about how the iPhone’s launch was choreographed, about the extent Apple will go in order to get the best possible press coverage (including demanding an engineer come back off holiday when one prominent US tech reviewer said his Apple TV wasn’t working), and the weeks Jobs and his team have worked to ensure public impressions of new products inspired desire.
The launch of iMovie HD in 2005 was a great example of this. As part of this product’s launch with iLife, Apple produced a one-minute film, shot at an Apple employee’s wedding. The intention was to show customers how iMovie could be used. But this expensive and tightly-produced film was scrapped just weeks before it was due to premiere at an Apple product launch. Steve Jobs decided it wasn’t giving the right image, and demanded a new one was shot immediately — and it had to feature another real wedding, and on a Hawaiian beach no less. The team responsible met the demand with just days to spare before it was scheduled to be shown to the world’s media.
Perhaps the most timely aspect of Lashinsky’s work is its focus on Apple’s senior executives: the likes of Scott Forstall (iOS lead), Jonathan Ive (design lead) and of course new CEO Tim Cook. This team has been responsible for much of Apple’s success in recent years, and many get a mini-biography within Inside Apple. For a reader keen to gather insight into how Apple may develop without Steve Jobs, these chapters are essential reading.
Overall, Inside Apple will please anyone craving candid tales of life within the Cupertino HQ. It’s short, carefully worded, and doesn’t carry a single dull sentence.
Listen Audio book “‘Inside Apple’ by Adam Lashinsky here:
Adam Lashinsky details the top 10 lessons he learned from Apple while writing Inside Apple, his new Audio book.
Steve Jobs was known as a rule-breaker. He didn’t want license plates on his car, for instance, so he didn’t have them. As I researched my Audio book, a theme emerged of how differently Apple does things than the rest of the business world. Just how he fashioned Apple into a rule-breaking company is a good story.
In instance after instance, Apple thumbs its nose at what MBA programs consider to be the best practices of modern business. Here are 10 lessons that any company might apply—with caution—to doing things the Apple way.
1. Design comes first
Every product manufacturer emphasizes design. Apple taught us, under the direction of Jonathan Ive, that design is paramount. Steve Jobs literally made the rest of the process subservient to design. That is revolutionary in a world where product-management and financial people conceive of products first and then tell the designers what to do. At Apple, it is the opposite.
Apple’s emphasis on design is what led to the beauty of Apple’s products, and, undeniably, its financial success.
2. Secrecy is paramount
Apple changed the rules of the game on how to clamp down on corporate secrets. My Audio book describes the sometimes creepy lengths Apple goes to keep its secrets from the outside world and from its own employees. Apple employees live in constant fear of termination if they divulge anything about the inner workings of their company.
The reign of terror works. Despite the increasing drumbeat of rumors about what to expect from Apple, the company keeps a lid on its plans better than any company its size. What’s more, its people are focused, freed from the temptation to gossip or play politics—because they don’t have enough information to do so.
3. Forget revenues
Apple never enters a new field with the idea of making money. It doesn’t ignore revenue, of course. In fact, it has a sophisticated approach to pricing its products globally. But the genesis of a new product segment at Apple never is about revenue optimization. It is always about what kick-ass gizmo or service Apple could make that its own executives would love to use.
It’s a variant of “Do what you love and the money will follow.” In Apple’s case, it’s “Make what you love, and the revenue will come rushing in.”
4. Tell customers, don’t ask
Because Apple makes products its executives want to use, it is able to skip the expensive and potentially distracting step of conducting focus groups. Apple delights customers by giving them products they didn’t know they wanted.
How could a customer possibly give feedback on a product they don’t know they want? Is this risky? Absolutely. Big risk, big reward.
5. Create one company, not many
Apple is revolutionary for its size in that there are no committees, no separate ad budgets, no fiefdoms. Jobs got the whole company pulling in one direction under his leadership. Just the way a startup would.
Think of the Apple brand: There’s just one. And Apple guards it zealously. So few big companies control their brand the way Apple does, and one of the ways Apple does it is by having the brand stand for everything that goes on at the company.
6. Say no
Over and over, Apple has chosen not to pursue new products or services. It’s a matter of focus. Common sense, obviously, but given the follies of so many big companies that chase new markets, it’s radical.
Saying no is much more difficult than saying yes. (Ask any parent.) Apple says no not only to products—it waited years to make a phone—but also to features within the products. The lack of a USB connection in the iPad is an example. These omissions annoy some customers. But the choices account for the overall excellence Apple achieves.
7. Value expertise
Apple laughs at the idea of general management. Why in the world would a company want to “broaden” its executives by exposing them to new things or different parts of the world when they already create tremendous value for shareholders by doing exactly what they’re doing?
There are limitations to this approach to be sure. But Apple hires the best in their fields and then focuses these people like lasers on their assigned tasks.
8. Own your message
Remember the phrase “1,000 songs in your pocket”? Of course you do. It’s because when Apple launched the iPod, the executives who were authorized to speak to the news media repeated the phrase over and over again.
It’s classic Apple: Craft, control and repeat the message.
9. Spend whatever it takes
Apple employees describe their teams as being resource-constrained. But when it comes to making or marketing products, Apple pulls out all the stops. Sure, you say, that’s easy for a company with nearly $100 billion in cash. But Apple has been behaving this way since it was tiny.
No expense can be spared in delighting customers. The return is obvious.
10. Be insanely great
Easier said than done, sure. But understand that Steve Jobs’ famous boast about Apple is aspirational. A company that believes its products will be insanely great has a shot at making insanely great products.
The company that hems itself in by thinking about next quarter’s numbers, well, you know some words to describe the products they’ll turn out.
Be sure to read Adam’s Audio book, Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired—and Secretive—Company Really Works, to learn more about Apple and Steve Jobs.