I’ve been involved in technology in either a direct or indirect sense for almost 25 years and I have to say; that for Apple to have come from where they were in 1996 and 1997 to overtake Microsoft tonight is about as dramatic a comeback as I have ever seen.
I was in a meeting with some members of a few correlating industries in early 1997 as part of RR Donnelley when Adobe announced its PDF strategy to a mostly skeptical group.
Apple was part of this meeting and was completely ripped and ridiculed by most of the other participants there, and really were asked some very pointed questions about whether they were going to be able to do anything to help support the publishing/print industry given the state of their company.
Steve Jobs came back about a month after that meeting and delivered the speech below a few weeks later. To say Apple was dead isn’t quite true, it was the hope of the Apple faithful and almost a blind denial that was keeping the platform alive at that point.
Steve Jobs started Apple’s comeback by shocking everyone at Macworld and all of us in the Mac community who followed their fortunes on a daily basis by announcing a deal with Microsoft to a stunned and hostile crowd and then delivered the paradigm shift of all paradigm shifts by saying the following…
“If we want to move forward and see Apple healthy and prospering again, we have to let go of a few things here. We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. OK?
We have to embrace a notion that for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job.”
The irony of the statement was, that when he made that statement I would bet that virtually every one of us involved with Apple and Mac products absolutely believed that it was nothing but a competition between the two and yet all of us realized when he said it, that he was right.
For someone to school thousands and thousands of Mac users that radically and for him to have been right and all of us to have woken up when he said it; and then to do exactly what he had envisioned over the course of years and turn Apple around; and to beat Microsoft anyways as of tonight, is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in business.
I’m not always an Apple fanboy, but I certainly am when it comes to what they have done to rise from the dead and overtake Microsoft tonight.
It reminds me of Ali beating Foreman in 1974 somehow, you don’t have to worship at the alter of Steve Jobs every day and I don’t, but this was greatness in action…