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Entrepreneurs, be the opposite of Steve Jobs.

Stashed in: Founders, 106 Miles, Mission, APIs

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I find myself agreeing with this ReadWriteWeb piece:

Summary of how not to be like Steve Jobs:

1. Don't be secretIve. Go anti-stealth.

2. Don't be perfectionist. Release early and often.

3. Don't build in isolation. Work well with other services and swarm other communities.

4. Don't be closed. Have open APIs to make your application programmable.

That said, there's something I like about the Steve Jobs way:

What do I like? Make your mission a cause.

I believe that great missions can lead to great results.

See also: Steve Jobs' seven insights for founders.

The early Apple was much more like this list than the present Apple. Jobs and Wozniak showed their Apple I prototypes to hobbiest clubs. The Apple II was thoroughly documented down to commented source code for the OS and schematics for the hardware, and this openness inspired a huge following amongst amateur computer enthusiasts.

Now that Apple is a gigantic corporation with a huge brand and their own distribution channels, they can afford to take a different strategy.

It's eye opening to read the stories of how Apple culture transitioned from the Apple II to the Macintosh:

You're very right that this is a very different company but a lot of that DNA is still baked into everything they do three decades later.

For startups, I agree with everything. But let me play the devil's advocate. It's Sunday after all.

I postulate that from a position of market dominance, you have to be Steve Jobs.

1. Apple gets soooooooo much mainstream media attention. Mostly due to their secrecy. This isn't PR you can buy, but tremendously important things like the the cover of Time Magazine.

2. This did not work for any of the iPad competitors. Although this could be more of a symptom of the long cycle times of HW compared to SW.

3. The App store is the opposite of this. It's a tremendous walled garden. Contrast with the 4 or 5 different Android app stores.

4. Getting off Apple for a moment, Twitter had a great API when they were growing. Once they achieved a certain size, they started snapping up the best clients and limiting the API and firehouse access. Maybe you need a broad API to get big, but once you start to saturate, you need more first party (rather than 3rd party) control to exert your vision.

Twitter didn't HAVE to kill its ecosystem. That was a choice.

The main lesson for entrepreneurs from your other three points is: you're not Steve Jobs so don't try to behave like him.

When all you have is nothing, you have nothing to lose.

As my first contribution... I vow to disagree with one of these points. More precisely point 2:

You can release early and often. It's not a big deal: my writing style is close to that (I'm finishing my PhD thesis) and even my programming style is like this (works? no? solve works? yes? improve works? etc) but once I get to a certain threshold... Perfectionism has to kick in. Unless you polish the rough edges, not even you would like your own product! It's far better to release early and often, hit a plateau and polish than to release early and often and end up with a feature crammed product.

My first two cents, now I need to know if I can inline html (I'm guessing, yes) for formatting ;)

You can inline the less dangerous HTML tags: b, I, blockquote, a href, img, ul, ol, li, p ... We really need to add a help bubble that says this.

As far as your response goes, the best balance of perfectionism and "ship it now" culture is probably the best. It's bad to be too much in either direction, IMHO, because you gotta ship, but you also gotta make something people want.

Not to be an idiot, but isn't this difference somewhat a function of hardware vs software? Seems like hunkering down in secret to polish your user experience has worked well for Apple; but it's obvs not going to work as well for a web based business.

My big lesson from Steve Jobs is that his genius is about TAKING AWAY rather than adding. His greatest products were the most subtractive. Especially as an app developer, there is a constant temptation to add add add features... and Jobs is practically the only example of a top businessperson who consistently resisted that opportunity.

In hardware, the more you take away, the better.

So it should be with software, too.

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