The Macintosh Way

Steve Jobs 1984 Macintosh

Steve Jobs – Circa 1984

In July 1997 Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO. Before he returned, it should be pointed out, Apple was on the brink of collapse. Here we are in 2013 though with Apple as one of the giants of computing and consumer electronics.

This got me a little curious about the company’s history and I began to delve into Guy Kawasaki’s book (first published in 1990) ‘The Macintosh Way’, sub-titled “The Art of Guerilla Management”. When you consider the appeal of Apple now, we can see the foundational principles laid all those years before.

So what are the core features that make for a great product?

The Apple Approach

1. Depth

Guy Kawasaki The Macintosh WayGreat products are deep—they appeal to both passengers and sailors (as Jean-Louis Gassée would say), and the passenger and sailor in all of us. A passenger gets on a ship, plays shuffleboard, and eats at the captain’s table. A sailor weighs the anchor, goes into the engine room, and gets grease under his fingernails. Some people use a Macintosh to do what crayons do. Some people use a Macintosh to do what mainframes do. A deep product enables you to do both. Owning a deep product is like finding money in the pockets of your coat.

2. Indulgence —feeling good (and guilty).

Great products are indulgent. They make you feel delighted and a little guilty because they are overkill for the tasks at hand. A Mont Blanc fountain pen is overkill for signing books. A seventy-five cent ballpoint would do, but it doesn’t make you feel good. Nor, frankly, does it work as well.

3. Completeness —of support, enhancements, and infrastructure.

Great products are complete. (According to William Davidow in his book, The Marketing of High Technology), products should include technical support, a stream of enhancements and upgrades, and an infrastructure of power users, consultants, VARs, and developers that can help a customer achieve maximum satisfaction.

4. Elegance—ready and waiting.

Great products are elegant. They may have many features, but the features are tastefully and transparently implemented. An elegant product will remind you of Fred Astaire. He could sing, dance, act, and charm the ladies with almost no discernible effort. And he looked great in a tuxedo. That’s elegance.


When I studied history at school my teacher used to say it is important to understand the past so you can make sense of the present. The same goes for explosive growth of companies, concepts and trends – they all come from a ‘base’. If you want to know more about Apple’s base then take a look at Kawasaki’s book, ‘The Macintosh Way’. It will all start to make sense and you can apply so many of the principles for yourself or in your consultancy.

You can download it, as well as Computer Curmudgeon, Database 101 and What The Plus! for free HERE.

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