Jobs’s primary role at Apple is to turn things down. ‘He’s a filter,’ says the Mac engineer Hertzfeld. Every day, the CEO is presented with ideas for new products and new features within existing ones. The default answer is no. Every engineer who has gone over a product with him has a story about how quickly Jobs reaches for the delete key. ‘I’m as proud of the products that we have not done as the ones we have done,’ Jobs told an interviewer in 2004.
It’s not just Jobs’s consistent aversion to complexity that prompts him to say no. Apple thrives on high profit margins, and having the willpower to say no keeps production costs down. Eliminating features also helps build buzz. ‘The great thing about omitting a feature that people want is that then they start clamoring for it,’ says Reid, the former Apple engineer. ‘When you give it to them in the next version, they’re even happier somehow.’ Apple has pulled off this trick time and again, most recently with the iPhone OS 4. It includes multitasking, a feature that customers began asking for in 2007, intensifying their pleas after Palm debuted multitasking in its WebOS last year.
How could the iPhone not have something this elemental until its fourth generation? Or take the iPad: Really, no camera? In 2010? Even the iPad-adept 2-and-a-half-year-old girl in the YouTube video complained about it. Come on, Apple, what are you thinking?
Maybe it’s thinking of a reason for you to come back next year.