Do you really want to be like Apple?


I promise, this is not another premature eulogy for Steve Jobs.

I saw this on Google+ this morning. This is an old video of Steve Jobs responding to a critic at the World Wide Developers Conference in 1997, shortly after Jobs returned to Apple.


One thing immediately jumped out at me…

In the context of #2amt and my professional life, I see or hear or read artists and arts administrators compare what they do to Apple every day, looking for instructive lessons (so does every other industry, by the way, simply because Apple both makes cool products and is successful).

But what Jobs says early on in this response is that he starts with the customer experience, and works backwards to the technology. If you were to apply that framework to the arts, then you would start with the audience and then work backward to the product and process. And you might very well end up in the commercial district of creative work and the arts.

It is interesting that most of the arts pros that I associate with would like to be like Apple, but would most definitely not like to be creating commercial product.

I’m annoyed with this disconnect. My request to the ersatz Apple-emulating arts pros is to either shit or get off the pot. If you want to be like Apple, be like Apple. Start with what your audience might most need and enjoy (that doesn’t mean they have to know what that is ahead of time–surprise and novelty are pretty big ingredients at Apple), and figure out how to give them that. In the corporate world, that is what is meant by “marketing.”

But if you’d rather start with your artistic process, which I think most artists would prefer, then stop pretending that you’re going to be like Apple. You won’t be. And that’s OK.

  • August 30, 2011
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