Sign up FAST! Login

Steve Jobs on why the Web succeeded: Simplicity.

Stashed in: Steve Jobs, The Web, @timberners_lee

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

"One of the major reasons for the Web's proliferation so far is its simplicity. A lot of people want to make the Web more complicated. They want to put processing on the clients, they want to do this and that. I hope not too much of that happens too quickly."

He said that in February 1996 when the Web was barely 6 years old.

In 2007, the inventor of the Web (Tim Berners-Lee) said that the Web succeeded because of open standards:

I suspect they are both right.

Me too. It also makes sense why TimBL called for continued open standards and network neutrality in the December 2010 SciAm:

The Steve is always astoundingly prescient. Somehow, the man is always years ahead of the competition in terms of innovation and product strategy.

I think Steve's flavor of 'simplicity' is really 'intelligent design' - with an aesthetically pleasing flair, of course. It's easy to make a 'simple' product - that is missing features, less capable, has a poor UX, etc. Bad companies make 'simple' products like this everyday.

It's a completely different challenge to make a product that's fully functional and capable while still being considered 'simple to use'. That requires working hard on every level of the product development and refining the whole process as much as possible. I feel that's Apple's (and, by proxy, Steve's) essence.

It does seem like for software Apple has a corporate preference for Objective C apps on iOS instead of web applications.

I still believe that web applications have a more "intelligent design" because they're not locked into a single vendor's platform.

It strikes me just how much he underestimated people's demand for more information via the web. He pooh-poohs the notion that people will mainly use the web to consume information ("I don't see most people using the Web to get more information."), instead stressing its role in facilitating commerce ("The best way to think of the Web is as a direct-to-customer distribution channel, whether it's for information or commerce."). He seems to be biased here in that his business at the time was in providing server-side software for powering more sophisticated websites (ie commerce ones), and he thinks that simple publishing use cases are already facilitated adequately by open source and free software. His thinking is also narrow when it comes to people using the web to publish data on a widespread basis. Then again, he seems to vacillate quite a bit in general, as if he isn't actually quite sure about the world-changing aspects of the web.

You make some good points, and it's also clear his attitude hasn't changed much in 15 years: the Web is a place where people can find information about iTunes music and apps they want to download to their iPods, iPhones, and iPads.

Publishing and commerce, in his mind, are better suited to shiny devices where "it just works" as opposed to the Web, which in his mind is cluttered, clunky, and fragile.

And how did that objects for web code thing go?

Not well. Developers preferred other solutions to WebObjects but NeXT couldn't let go of Obective C when it took over Apple, and more than a decade later Apple forces developers to choose between spending cycles on Web app or on iOS app development. Making us support two different platforms is... Less simple.

You May Also Like: