This guy is not necessary a troll, of course this is just speculation, but if a project he was working on for a few years got cancelled, I could pretty well understand his frustration, even if the decision to cancel turned out valid in the end from a business point of view. I don't think it is valid to stick labels on people (both on the "troll" and on Steve Jobs) without knowing the whole story.
Nowadays of course, only the very rare session even has a 5 minute Q&A, and "Ask the VPs" went the way of Jamba Juice and Mac Pro LAN party funtimes. I was there for the butt end of Apple that cared about face-to-face group feedback at WWDC and I rather miss it. 1-on-1 in labs, dev forums, twitter, and personally knowing Apple engineers doesn't really make up for the educational/entertainment factor of putting engineers on the spot in front of a large crowd with a controversial question.
Jamba Juice is still around.
Many of the "questions" were more expressions of someone's opinion, and almost always these opinions disagreed with the direction Apple was going (otherwise you'd have no reason to complain, naturally) and in every case I can think of, I remember there being evidence that Apple had already considered the perspective of the person complaining.
Apple goes its own way, and of course some people are not going to like it. Many people who don't like it before the fact, do like it after the fact-- remember the derision the iPad and iPhone got between when they were announced and when they shipped?
These Q&A sessions did, however, make it pretty clear to me that Apple is both aware of people's issues, considerate of them, and revealing as much as it can in the normal course of events at WWDC.
Further, I don't think they provided Apple with the feedback they were looking for, and Apple has instead shifted towards establishing relationships with people in the relevant industries and the developer community and keeps in touch with them directly.
I think Apple gets a lot of the good feedback at WWDC from the labs. It used to be, when WWDC was smaller, you could develop relationships with Apple employees at the beer bust and thursday party. But now, I think it is the labs, and the labs provide a time where both parities can dig into the details of the issue, hopefully with code, and figure out the right solution. Also, when labs are use to educate newbies to a technology, the questions they ask is a strong form of feedback.
So, I think Apple is getting the feedback from the community, even more now than it did then. It has just found better ways to do it.
Either way, I still get the "can't talk about it", "don't know", and "file a radar" responses, so I guess it doesn't matter so much what happens at WWDC for me.
But he did directly insult that guy: "I know some of these people, they haven't done anything in 7 years… they leave, and act like the company's going to fall apart the next day…"
In this case, the guy asked a question that he already knew the answer to in an attempt to make Jobs look bad by being the messenger.
Jobs evaded the question, instead of answering it, which was the only way to save face. With trolls, this is almost always the case, because they set up their question in such a way that there's no good answer to it.
I've always considered it as someone who is trying to push your buttons, get an emotional response from you, make you mad. Making someone look bad is not necessarily trollish, they may well be bad and the comment is attempting to reveal the persons true nature.
Also, I don't think the guy really "knew" the answer to the question and had legitimate gripes as you would if a project you've been working on for the last x years was suddenly canned.
>Mr. Jobs, you're a bridesmaid(?)....
>Here it comes...
I know one of the early engineers who wrote the low-level software for that device. He was one of the more arrogant engineers I've known and basically dismissed the iPad because it didn't have enough "power." When he showed me the Kno tablet, I said "I couldn't even fit that thing in my backpack, let alone on any desk. You're never going to sell this thing to people." He insisted that power was more important.
And it turns out he was wrong because he was thinking like an engineer. Kno scrapped that idea and decided to build exclusively for the iPad. http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/08/kno-bails-hardware-30-milli.... Good on them.
Should you develop web, desktop, or mobile apps for your next startup? Watch the video. Find a problem, then pick the technology stack that provides the best solution and experience for your customers.
I will read through the App Engine docs every day or so to figure out what cool thing I can make out of the APIs provided. Maybe I should forget that and just think to myself 'what would I want to use?'.
They go thru Apple's process for product development in some very useful detail. I won't try to relate it because I'll get it wrong, or get phases out of order, but the short answer to your question is they design the product, then work on the technology to bring it to life.
I think this session is probably the most revealing Apple has ever been about their "secret sauce". It isn't really proprietary, but they apply it all the time, and to every single product.
I think much of the Steve Jobs mystique comes from Apple simply embedding this practice into their methodology... and they reveal it plainly in at least the 2008 WWDC video (though I think it gets more obscure in later years.)
The 2008 one to watch is Session 351: iPhone Application User Interface Design.
That one session was worth the entire amount of money I paid to go to the conference.
And for what it's worth, the market seems to have proven Steve right. Nowadays, we can see some of Apple's competitors resorting to "different" in an attempt to gain traction. Doesn't seem to be working for them, either.
This is a lesson Microsoft needs and has never really learned, neither under Gates nor Ballmer. The bizarre approach in Windows 8 that has all kinds of UI doing the same thing with no clarity around development platform sounds exactly like what Jobs talks about with people going in 18 different directions.
"You think about focusing, you think focusing is about saying "yes?" No. Focusing is about saying no. And you've got to say "no," "no," "no." And you know you're going to piss off people. and they go talk to the San Jose Mercury and they write a shitty article about you. And it's really a pisser. Because you wanna be nice, you don't wanna to tell the San Jose Mercury the person who is telling you this was just asked to leave, or this or that. So you take the lumps, and Apple's been taking their share of lumps for the last six months. In a very unfair way. And it's been taking them like an adult and I'm proud of that. And there's more to come, I'm sure. There'll be stories like that, they come and go, but focus is about saying no. And the result of that focus is going to be some really great products. Where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts."
You can also see why the guy questions (in OP video) Jobs: "And when you're finished with that, perhaps you could tell us what you personally have been doing for the last 7 years." -- Jobs mentions that some of the guys who "tell stories" haven't been doing anything last seven years.
Of course the difference between Google/Microsoft and Apple in 1997 is that Apple didn't have a profitable core business (Windows and Office for Microsoft, Adwords for Google). Google and Microsoft can afford to spread out, but Apple's only chance in 1997 was to focus.
It's also interesting to note that in their early days, both Microsoft and Google were very focussed. They started to spread out when they started earning more money than they could spend. Apple, on the other hand, stayed focused. There is no Apple product that doesn't have a clear purpose.
But Google at least certainly suffers from a lack of focus as a company. That's what 20% time is, effectively, and while there are some good arguments against it, it seems to work for them. Perhaps the 'no' comes into play when deciding what to throw more resources behind? It might be reasonable to compare loosening the reins on your engineers a bit to pure research where it is hard to get a concrete answer for what technologies something will lead to, but you allocate some funding for it anyway.
The communication about the development platform has been awful. Almost no one seems to understand what they're doing at all, and Microsoft needs to own that problem and fix it. But Peter Bright over at Ars Technica has written several pieces about how everything we know seems to fit together, and it seems to boil down to: (1) C++ isn't going anywhere, (2) there's a huge base of .Net developers, and .Net isn't going anywhere either, (3) there's also a huge base of developers more used to web-standards based tools, and we don't want to make them learn .Net or C++, so there will be tools for them too, (4) there will be a new common UI layer for all of these to improve consistency.
* has all kinds of UI doing the same thing
* no clarity around development platform
What a great insight, it's really striking a chord with me right now.
This is such a common idea in business strategy that I have a hard time believing that most large companies don't, at least at the top, understand it. However, it also seems like a principal that is very hard to stay focused on as a product or service flows down throughout the company. There has to be a very good reason why this strategy flows through Apple's veins, yet gets lost in the mix of many of its competitors.
If you keep having focus groups with customers and continually implement what they ask for you might end up with something like MS Office where you have a kludge of actions buried within and across multiple menu items.
As a contrast to that look at Windows Phone 7. If you've ever used it it's rather elegant. I feel that they looked beyond the "comments box" and dug deeper. It truly feels like they made sure the devices it runs on are communication devices (making calls and texting) first and layered in modern smartphone functionality (applications and cloud storage).
"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."
This requires far more than polling users and focus studies. It requires a deep conceptual understanding of what drives your target market (often not your current customers!) and how to get there.
Understanding the Kano model allows you to focus on the "right" features: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Kano_model
The first part of his answer I've completely forgotten because it seemed to be a canned spiel that he had used before. It had something to do with Apple's products or mission. I started losing interest because it sounded like something I might have even heard Steve say before at a keynote. I felt a bit disappointed that my one chance to learn something new and unique about Steve was probably about to end.
But then, as if to try again at my question, he added a second part to his answer.
Here's to one of the greatest capitalist visionaries of our lifetime though. In jean patches no less.
It also underscores the importance of being able to translate tech "pieces" into compelling products. I'm an app developer. When reading documentation for the latest release of iOS or Lion SDKs, and seeing all of the new APIs, I feel like a kid with a brand-new box of Legos. The challenge (and art) is in combining these technologies to build something actually catchy.
I believe the (inaudible) part is "embodied in OpenDoc".
I consider it an interesting and spot-on question with, in fact, a very nice answer, too.
Someone who can't deal with questions like that probably should never dream of becoming CEO of any company at all.