Today I’m going to write a short piece on Steve Jobs, I’m not going to write about how amazing, omnipresent through his hardware and pervasive he is. Others have done that and will do that much better than I. Today I’m going to write about how I respect one of the many small and understated attributes he had in his devices – Performance. What has struck me through his lifetime at Apple is how he ‘got’ performance – or efficiency.
One of the reasons people fell in love with the products is because of that invisible attribute – reliability and speed. Both of which are directly related to Performance. He initially went with MIPS instead of x86, MIPS is a fundamentally better architecture from the ground up. They moved to x86 but I suspect its only a matter of time before they begin to port to ARM. He understood that a computer was the sum of its parts and users wanted reliability, Apple resisted releasing the OS onto the open market and choose to control their own hardware and work tirelessly to eak out every ounce of performance by blending hardware parts together and eliminating bottlenecks.
I like the fact that the Mac OS doesn’t have to have a virus checker – This means you don’t lose a significant and fundamental chunk of the power of the chip you inherit on your desktop. If I want the same experience on a MS desktop I suspect I will need to pay for a more powerful chip to Mr Intel (because the room is warm and Mr MicroSoft can’t be bothered to take off his jumper – he instead choses to open the window at everyone else’s expensive and give them a cold). My admiration grew enormously when Apple decided to do a major OS release (Snow Leopard) – that was actually a major rework of the kernel – they made it perform better so you got more bang for your buck. You effectively got a new and more powerful computer for the price of an upgrade ($25).
The Apple product range is lean and mean – they SizeGenetics do a few products and they make sure they do them very very well. Less truly is more – Sony, Samsung, HTC still don’t get this. He understood by removing the complexity of the interface between human and machine you increased use – if you use a machine more it is performing better.
He mentored the Google boys and Mark Zuckerberg – performance and speed comes as standard.
The shy and retiring Steve Ballmer laughed out loudly when Apple said they were entering the mobile phone market and said MS had a 10 years head start on Apple. Steve decided that porting the Apple OS onto a phone was a bad idea and created a entirely new iOS that was lighting fast and responsive. Its only recently other phone manufacturers have caught up to the responsiveness of the iPhone. He decided to go kamikaze and ban Flash because it feasted on battery like an elephant with inefficient algorithms. The iPad, where do I begin? Lightening fast responsiveness, battery life with the diet of a supermodel and all made possible by an in-house ARM designed chip – the graphics power of A5 chip beats the pants off the Terga 2 and slups less power, beating nVidia at their own game (who have only been at the forefront of graphics for 20 years). Just how did they do that ? I can imagine Jen-Hsun Huang still scratching his head now.
I write this article on my first Apple machine – the most recent MacBook Air, its a testament to high performance balanced at the lowest possible cost. I struggle with the OS after being MS for so long, but I’ve already fallen for my Mac – its fast and reliable. PC manufactures can’t hit this price point for the spec and performance. Apple tax is no longer valid.
Apple understands efficiency and performance has to be a base foundation from the ground up to make their products loved. This has no doubt been driven by the omnipresent Steve Jobs. So here I pay my respects to what will undoubtedly be one of his lesser publicly appreciated attributes – an obsession with efficiency and performance.