A mosaic of Apple leader Steve Jobs’ on-the-record opinions and musings

We ended up opting for these Miele appliances, made in Germany. … These guys really thought the process through. They did such a great job designing these washers and dryers. I got more thrill out of them than I have out of any piece of high tech in years. — Wired, February 1996

 

 

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On copyright and patents

If copyright dies, if patents die, if the protection of intellectual property is eroded, then people will stop investing. That hurts everyone. People need to have the incentive that if they invest and succeed, they can make a fair profit. Otherwise they’ll stop investing. — Rolling Stone, 2003
On television as the “most corrosive technology I’ve every seen”

Because the average American watches five hours a day of television, and television is a passive medium. Television doesn’t turn your brain on. Or, television can be used to turn your brain off, and that’s what it’s mostly used for. And that’s a wonderful thing sometimes — but not for five hours a day. — Rolling Stone, 2003
On music

I think we’re all happier when we have a little more music in our lives. … We were very lucky — we grew up in a generation where music was an incredibly intimate part of that generation. More intimate than it had been, and maybe more intimate than it is today, because today there’s a lot of other alternatives. We didn’t have video games to play. We didn’t have personal computers. There’s so many other things competing for kids’ time now. But, nonetheless, music is really being reinvented in this digital age, and that is bringing it back into people’s lives. It’s a wonderful thing. — Rolling Stone, 2003

On how the Web will “affect the way we live in the future”
I don’t think of the world that way. I’m a tool builder. That’s how I think of myself. I want to build really good tools that I know in my gut and my heart will be valuable. And then whatever happens is … you can’t really predict exactly what will happen, but you can feel the direction that we’re going. And that’s about as close as you can get. Then you just stand back and get out of the way, and these things take on a life of their own. — Rolling Stone, 1994
On the next great thing

If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth — and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago. — Fortune, Feb. 19, 1996, via Wired: “Steve Jobs’ Best Quotes Ever,” March 2006
On whether innovation can be “systematized”

The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.

But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or | Free MCTS TrainingMCTS Online Training . calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea. And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. — Businessweek, October 2004
On his involvement with Apple’s innovations

We go back and forth a lot as we work on our projects. And we’ve got such great people [in the top executive team] that I’ve been able to move about half of the day-to-day management of the company to them, so I can spend half my time on the new stuff, like the retail [store] effort. I spent and continue to spend a lot of time on that. And I meet weekly for two or three hours with my OS X team. And there’s the group doing our iLife applications.

So I get to spend my time on the forward-looking stuff. My top executives take half the other work off my plate. They love it, and I love it. — Businessweek, October 2004
On the nature of the Web

The best way to think of the Web is as a direct-to-customer distribution channel, whether it’s for information or commerce. It bypasses all middlemen. And, it turns out, there are a lot of middlepersons in this society. And they generally tend to slow things down, muck things up, and make things more expensive. The elimination of them is going to be profound. — Wired, 1996
On optimism

I’m an optimist in the sense that I believe humans are noble and honorable, and some of them are really smart. I have a very optimistic view of individuals. As individuals, people are inherently good. I have a somewhat more pessimistic view of people in groups. And I remain extremely concerned when I see what’s happening in our country, which is in many ways the luckiest place in the world. We don’t seem to be excited about making our country a better place for our kids. — Wired, 1996
On technology and its prospects for changing the world

The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t. … Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much — if at all.

These technologies can make life easier, can let us touch people we might not otherwise. … I’m not downplaying that. But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light — that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important. — Wired, 1996
On being fired from Apple

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life. — Commencement address, Stanford University, 2005
On death

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.