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Steve Jobs interview: One-on-one in 1995

Computerworld (US) staff | Oct. 7, 2011
In April of 1995, Steve Jobs, then head of NeXT Computer, was interviewed as part of the Computerworld Honors Program Oral History project. The wide-ranging interview was conducted by Daniel Morrow, executive director of the awards program.

What that cost them was the future. What they should have been doing was making reasonable profits and going for market share, which was what we always tried to do.

Macintosh would have had a 33% market share right now, maybe even higher, maybe it would have even been Microsoft, but we'll never know. Now it's got a single-digit market share and falling. There's no way to ever get that moment in time back. The Macintosh will die in another few years and it's really sad.

The problem is this: No one at Apple has a clue as to how to create the next Macintosh because no one running any part of Apple was there when the Macintosh was made -- or any other product at Apple. They've just been living off that one thing now for over a decade and the last attempt was the Newton and you know what happened to that.

It's kind of tragic, but as unemotionally as I can be, that's what's happening. Unless somebody pulls a rabbit out of a hat, companies tend to have long glide slopes because of the installed bases. But Apple is just gliding down this slope and they're losing market share every year. Things start to spiral down once you get under a certain threshold. And when developers no longer write applications for your computer, that's when it really starts to fall apart.

There's obviously a lot of emotional attachment to Apple. Oh sure. Apple could have lived forever and kept shipping great products forever. Apple was for awhile like Sony. It was the place that made the coolest stuff.

Apple customers

Is there a user of Apple or a story that you could tell that in your mind exemplifies what the company stood for and its values at its best? What customers were using the Apple when you were there? There were two kinds of customers. There were the educational aspects of Apple and then there were sort of the non-educational.

On the non-educational side, Apple was two things. One, it was the first "lifestyle" computer and, secondly, it's hard to remember how bad it was in the early 1980's. With IBM taking over the world with the PC, with DOS out there; it was far worse than the Apple II. They tried to copy the Apple II and they had done a pretty bad job.

You needed to know a lot. Things were kind of slipping backwards. You saw the 1984 commercial. Macintosh was basically this relatively small company in Cupertino, California, taking on the goliath, IBM, and saying "Wait a minute, your way is wrong. This is not the way we want computers to go. This is not the legacy we want to leave. This is not what we want our kids to be learning. This is wrong and we are going to show you the right way to do it and here it is. It's called Macintosh and it is so much better. It's going to beat you and you're going to do it."

 

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