Steve Jobs: The Puppet Master

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Blue Velvet, Sep 9, 2007.

  1. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #1
    Here's a piece by Robert X. Cringely at pbs.org... enjoy. ;)


    http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070906_002891.html
     
  2. Jasonbot macrumors 68020

    Jasonbot

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    #2
    Oh no, SJ is a Master of Puppets!!!

    Relevant pic:
     

    Attached Files:

  3. Shorties macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I do think that the $499 and $599 were the real prices, but that was back in January by the time of the actual launch, it seemed overpriced compared to its specs, and I think thats where apple realized they could keep it at that higher price for a few months then drop it as the article suggests, I don't believe that back in macworld they planned to drop it to $399.
     
  4. jackc macrumors 65816

    jackc

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    #5
    Nice, some choice lyrics from Master of Puppets:

    "Taste me you will see
    More is all you need..."

    "Pain monopoly, ritual misery"
     
  5. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #6
    Hmmm...very interesting. However, it seems to me that all good leaders and people in positions of power need to be a little Jobs-ish. Without that attitude and ego combintion, there will insubordination and a loss of direction.

    As for the price cut, I think it really was more a matter of testing the waters. If 500,000 people (according to the article) wanted an iPhone at $600, then surely far more would want one at $400 (heck, even I'm thinking about it, what with my lack of income and all:p). Since it's been a success, Apple can afford to drop the price and sell more units to make up the profit. Had it gone badly, then it would have been less of a problem because the margins were quite good on the iPhone. I also feel that early adopters have nothing to complain about. They know that they're buying an expensive, untested product when they hand their credit card over. They have no legitimate complaint when the price drops at a later time.
     
  6. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    This just in: The Pope is still Catholic.

    Now, I like Cringely's stuff -- a lot. Even when he seems to be winging it, he knows far more than the average tech commentator and he's way more interesting. But really, isn't this just a whole lot of belaboring the obvious?

    I'd break into his vault to hear that tape, though.
     
  7. shecky Guest

    shecky

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    #8
    agreed - none of this is a surprise nor unexpected; i think cringley is right on. every great CEO is a little eccentric and thats what adds to them being so damn good at what they do (richard branson anyone?)
     
  8. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #9
    This is the first time I recall reading any of Cringely's work, and I must admit I'm not impressed.

    The diction and tone of his article portrays Steve Jobs as a cunning and manipulative jerk. Sure, it's well known that Steve Jobs has a very "strong" personality, but I think he was portrayed more negatively than deserved.

    I have no doubt that much of what Cringely said is right on, but I guess I just didn't like his tone. :D
     
  9. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #10
    Frankly, I think most leaders end up seeming like cunning and manipulative jerks. It's almost a job requirement. I doubt any CEO would be described as "honest, kind, and thoughtful." I think this writer would probably describe all the CEOs he interviews like that.
     
  10. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #11
    The thing that gets me in that article (and here in many posts at MR) is the concept that Apple reaped "Undeserved" profit.

    Excuse me, but this was a bargain that each and every buyer entered into willingly (and more, with lineups and all the attendant hype, enabled and amplified by the media, MR included).

    Apple "Deserves" every penny of what they made - they created the product, the demand, and the sales at that price point.

    I agree with Cringely in that the whole meal deal -- price, drop, reaction and rebate would have had to be anticipated and scripted from soup to nuts by Apple for maximum effect.

    The iPhone is a new product market for Apple, it is instructive to compare the marketing with the parallel situation of Microsoft selling XBlockses below cost and THEN having to spend a billion dollars to fix them after the fact. Apple starts to look brilliant, here.
     
  11. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #12
    Basically, what I'm saying is that the author of that article used words that carry very negative connotations, and I feel he went a bit overboard.

    I'll copy and paste a few key lines from the article quotes in italic, key words in red:
    • "Apple punished its most loyal users"
      Were they really punished?

    • "It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t a thoughtless mistake. It was a calculated and tightly scripted exercise in marketing and ego gratification."
      So, does Steve Jobs really drop prices and anger his customers for his own ego?

    • "Because he knew the news would be disruptive and might have obscured his presentation of the new products. He KNEW there was going to be controversy."
      It's interesting how the author contradicts himself. On one hand, Steve Jobs "KNEW" there would be controversy, and on the other hand, Apple had the money waiting "if needed."

    • "Apple introduced the iPhone at $599 to milk the early adopters"
      Did Apple really "milk" their customers, or were they innocently caught up in the economics of the situation?

    • "So Steve slapped his customers around a bit and what happened?"

    Perhaps the only manipulative one around here is Cringely. ;)
     
  12. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #13
    He's a writer. I'll cut him some slack to use colorful adjectives if I think he's not completely off base. I also have the benefit of knowing that Cringely is not an Apple basher.

    He does lay down one tantalizing bit, which I think he deliberately left hanging in the air: I wonder if Bill still thinks Steve "can't win."

    I'll bet he does. The essence of His Billness is that he believes that nobody but he should win, or even deserves to win.
     
  13. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #14
    I can see what you're saying, but I think this is just how writers approach things. It's just spice, nothing more. He's not as bad as some other writers out there.
     
  14. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

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    #15
    I think a lot of the article is crap. It reminds of all those 911 conspiracy theories, like it was all a plan by Bush, etc. I don't think Steve planned the price drop in advance. He just doesn't strike me as a that kind of deceiver. But I do agree with the end of the article that Steve was less focused on profit in the 80's then he is now. I think it is likely a reaction to being fired by Apple back then and to show that he can be a good manager.

    But the bulk of the article is just silly. Why do people always think successful people have this big master plot to deceive people? I get that sometimes at my job. It's stupid.
     
  15. redfirebird08 macrumors regular

    redfirebird08

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    #16
    No. Jobs is a manipulative guy, more manipulative than plenty of other CEO's out there. He's also a visionary and I am thankful he has helped with some technology revolutions. Bill Gates, though I really don't like his products, has been described as far more down to earth with his employees than Jobs. There's plenty of CEO's out there that are kind and thoughtful including Gates, but in general quite a few of them are more in the mold of Jobs as you mentioned. I'd say the ratio is 60/40 in favor of the manipulative types.
     
  16. papadopolis1024 macrumors 6502

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    #17
    You know I could help you with that... I REALLY want to hear that tape!!!!
     
  17. mcarnes macrumors 68000

    mcarnes

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    #18
    :rolleyes: The ratio is clearly closer to 65/35.
     
  18. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #19
    Well, I'm willing to cut CEOs some slack as long as they're good leaders and they don't falisfy records and documents. I think that in order to be a good CEO, manipulation and cleverness are essential. As long as the CEO delivers good results and makes shareholders, customers, and employees happy, I think that they're a good CEO. The only black mark on Jobs' record is the back-dating scandal. Whether or not he knew about it is what is critical. If he did in fact have knowledge and allowed it to happen, then he does deserve prison time. If not, then he can keep doing what he's doing, because he's damn good at it.

    Best response EVER!
     
  19. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #20
    Ah, a conspiracy... excellent!

    Another thing occurred to me. Cringely seems to view Jobs as the sole decider within Apple, as if every move the company makes, no matter how minute, is carefully choreographed by Steve himself. Now, I realize he's a control freak, but really -- he does have people for some of these things!
     
  20. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #21
    I think this view is popular because so much of Apple is Steve Jobs. His charisma seems to be the driving force behind Apple. Granted, he's not god or anything, but he does give off that impression.
     
  21. QuarterSwede macrumors G3

    QuarterSwede

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    #22
    Same here. The people under me think I control a lot more than I do. A lot of the magic just my experience and knowledge over theirs.

    I think people also forget that Jobs is very demanding. If the project isn't done on time or to his liking (ie. near perfection), heads will roll. Fear is a powerful persuader. Yet when a product is put out that you've worked on and the marketing is so good that it makes you willing to sell your mother for it, you feel proud and glad that he pushed you so hard.
     
  22. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #23
    The popular view, yes -- but I expect Cringely to know a lot more about the inner workings of Apple than the popular viewer. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Cringely isn't being a little too arch in his theories about Jobs and his machinations. For a reason, maybe.
     
  23. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

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    #24
    Maybe he did mean it to be a light-hearted peace. Perhaps it's the effects of these forums that creates the impressions some of us have.
     
  24. edesignuk Moderator emeritus

    edesignuk

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    #25
    Excellent piece, and I agree with all of it.

    No company just decides to give away millions of dollars unless it was planned for in the first place.

    Jobs brilliance is paralleled by his arrogance. He knows best, and he will do exactly what he wants to do, you (the customers) will do it to. Like it or not.
     

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