Newsweek’s Daniel Lyons wrote today about why he’s giving up his iPhone and switching to Google’s latest Android device. I’ve watched Jobs explain for weeks why everyone has do things his way—not use flash, follow his rules for development, let him censor apps. I’m not convinced he’s wrong—just that Apple will suffer in the marketplace for his decisions. Again.

Remember—they fired Steve Jobs once

(Update: Okay, after losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985, he resigned). He made products that everyone loved but over time, few bought. Could that be happening again?

Apple started selling personal computers in the 1980s. They’re still selling them today. They get rave reviews. They were innovative then, they’re innovative now. So why does Apple have only a tiny market share in personal computers today?

Will Apple again be the innovator that fails to capture market share long-term?

We may find the answer by watching history repeat itself as Apple proceeds to shoot itself in the foot again with the iPhone and iPad. Are control and profit more important to Steve Jobs than seeing more people use the products he leads Apple in creating?

That Google’s phone OS now has a larger market share than Apple’s is not definitive. Even seeing Apple’s products—at Jobs’s insistence—NOT have features people want only brings back (bad) memories. But seeing Apple not interoperate with technologies and developers is like Deja Vu all over again.

And after all the feature announcements that the new market leader—that’s Google, by the way—made about their device yesterday, it looks like Jobs is leading Apple right back to being marginalized. In an industry that his innovation practically created—touchscreen internet smartphones. But I think articles like CNN’s “Has the iPhone lost its cool?” are missing the point. Apple’s products are always self-limiting. That’s how Jobs keeps them matching his brilliant, innovative—and market-limited—vision.

Steve Jobs is probably the greatest consumer technology innovator of all time.

But to make things happen, he has to do things “his way.” And that means we get his innovations … along with his Achille’s heel. Like a lot of people great at making things happen, he doesn’t work and play well with others. He’s a little selfish. A major control freak. And he needs to be all those things to drive Apple as ruthlessly as he has to innovate so successfully.

Computer technology would be a far, far poorer place without Steve Jobs. He’s a national treasure. Too bad it looks like he’s leading Apple back down its same well-trodden road from amazing innovation to near invisibility in the marketplace.


  1. Defender saying “Apple not evil”… changes his mind. He’s got a point.
  2. A nice set of dueling posts: PCWorld: 7 Ways Google’s phone Tops Apple’s iPhone and Seven ways PC World is wrong about the iPhone-Android matchup
  3. Of course, comparing Google to Apple means I should have discussed Google too. See: Google’s Android: A rate of innovation never before seen in history
  4. Steve Jobs Says In An Email: “Not A Chance” Google Is Leapfrogging Us
  5. I find it inspiring how the iPad is helping artists, and see this as sign of good things to come 🙂