Replacing Steve Jobs

Tim Cook just gave an on-message (read dull) interview for the 2012 All things D Conference.  Many Apple faithful were quick to complain how the new CEO was missing Steve Job’s vital charisma.  Mr. Cook was handpicked by Steve (notice the familiar usage), not for his charisma but for his excellence at running a global tech juggernaut day to day, and his loyalty to Apple’s (Steve’s) core values.  So I believe people are misplaced in wanting Mr. Cook to be another Jobs.

While Apple is lucky to have such a good manager as Mr. Cook, they do have a problem with a leadership vacuum.  They need a genius high up at Apple to help lead the way.  Unfortunately, no one can replace Steve Jobs.  Steve Jobs the visionary, the driving asshole inspirer, and the laser-eyed design fanatic won’t be found in one individual.

But maybe three people can replace Steve Jobs.  I know this sounds nuts, but hey Steve Jobs believed crazy ideas can work, right?

I think Apple needs to have a a creative triumvirate (a quorum of 3, 3 wise men, the Three, what ever you want to call them) to hold the role that The Steve used to hold.

  • One visionary would represent software and user design.
  • The second visionary would represent external hardware appearance and aesthetic design (cough, Jony Ive, cough).
  • The third visionary would be there as the great motivator, the one who keeps the culture of Apple inspired and connected to its highest ideals.  The Third Visionary would also be the public face and spokesperson for Apple at media events.

Why three visionaries?  Well, an even number of people won’t always agree and end up in deadlock, and you need to have some compromise.  Also more than three would lead easily to the too many cooks in the kitchen phenomenon.  Like the three bodies of the U.S. government, you need balance of power.  Basically, to vote on issues related to Apple’s future, you would have five equal votes.  The board would get one vote, the Creative triumvirate would get one vote each, and Tim Cook would get a deciding vote in tie breaker situations.

Apple will do well without a visionary like Steve for awhile, as they can continue their great streak in the short term.  But in the long term, Apple will need the spirit of a tech visionary to keep guiding the company into undiscovered territory.  Maybe they will find the three to do it.

Seoul Digital Forum 2012 Day 2 & 3

Here’s my stream of consciousness notes of Day 2 & 3 of the Seoul Digital Forum

Day 1 is here.

TIM O’REILLY – Towards a Global Brain

“The skill of writing is creating a context for other people to think in”

Man machine symbiosis – feed many human written medicine journal documents into IBM’s Watson, which figures out what’s most important for busy doctors to know.
In the future we’ll have health sensors monitored by home health professionals with smart apps.
Data scientists – big new field for the future.

WIRED – KEVIN KELLY – What Technology Wants

Does technology have its own latent theory of evolution, its own agenda?
Diversity and specialization is the thrust of tech.
Technology is a loop of new problems and new solutions, but what’s positive is we have new choices we never had before.
“Technology is anything made after you are born.”
“Technology is the stuff that doesn’t work yet”

History emphasizes dominance but more of history is a story of cooperation.

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Notes from Seoul Digital Forum 2012 – Day 1

As I have an interest in technology and the technobable it inspires, I decided to apply for entrance to the Seoul Digital Forum, an invitation only Ted Talk-lite for Korean Tech/Business types.  For some reason they invited me to come (I did label myself a Media Developer for E-Learning), and I soon learned I was nearly the only foreigner in the audience listening to ‘Visionaries’, their term for all the speakers.  Around 70% of the speakers were foreigners and the majority of the talks were in English.  So as one of the only native English speakers in the audience it was great for me.  They had headphones so every talk was translated into Korean and English.

Here’s some brief pithy musings I had while listening to some of the speakers.  This doesn’t reflect so much exactly what they said, more what they inspired me to think about while I was listening to them.  Note: My musings are in italics.

General Overview:

Conference Theme: Coexistence
Buzzwords level: Extreme. Koreans love buzzwords(Story/time/smart) + Tech people love buzzwords(cloud, augmented,ICT,SNS) = buzzword explosion.  String as many together in one sentence to be “modern netizen 2.0.”
Setting: Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel (with onsite Casino where you can gamble playing the card game War)
Most prevalent visual motif – Matrix raining green characters still a thing
Common Themes: How tech can help Africa, cloud cloud cloud, big data.


A video introduction from President Lee Myung-bak.  He seems to talk with his eyes closed.  Champions the Arab Spring as positive technology, but worried about digital divide.  Shout out to World Expo in Yeosu.

Microsoft – Steve Balmer 

I was hoping for a bounding sweaty uncle fester, but he was more subdued as he gave an intro to Windows 8.  He tried to impress the crowd with his ability to say two Korean names, only said one well.  Still love how the last words of his sentences hang in the air like duck farts.

He lays out Microsofts Focus:
“Our Focus: Technology

  • Machine Learning
  • Form Factors/UI  (mouse, touch and other things apple forced us to get into)
  • Cloud  Cloud cloud cloud   – Facebook born of the cloud – 10 years to exploit.
  • Core Platform – world becoming less fragmented – ie. windows wants to be a closed ecosystem like apple, 
  • New Scenarios (?, didn’t elaborate besides “note taking technologies”, wait to see what to copy)

“What’s Windows 8? It’s an operating system after Windows 7”
“I’ve got an 81 inch windows slate in my office.”  Baller?  Balmer.
A new Zune! for windows 8.
“Whoops, that’s a bad step” Balmer says as he almost falls off the stage.
Some talk about foldable screens maybe being a thing someday, maybe.

Demo of windows 8.  I’m a Mac, but I have to say this has some cool features.  Honestly, a more integrated OS for people who want their tablet and keyboarded PC synced.  Apps define the UI experience.  A bit info overload.  Bloatware meets Bloat interface, but luckily looks much easier to configure.
Tries to look at photos he took in Seoul – “file could not be found,” still some work to do.  MS is Involved with 600 startups in Korea.  Targeted at machine builders.(aka LG / Samsung)  Balmer see Windows 8 as best opportunity for 400 million new users.   But Korea is the land of android and most of the Korean apps are already entrenched in Google’s ecosystem.  Microsoft needs apps, like a church needs followers. I believe Korea will make and buy lots of windows PC hardware, but probably won’t gain much traction in the mobile space here, as phones are nearly tablets over here, Most people don’t really want tablets, they want, what seems to me, as ridiculously big phones.

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