Great Quotes from Steve Jobs Book

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I recently read the beast that is Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs, creatively titled “Steve Jobs”. For those of you who have never followed or read about Steve, this book may be a shocker. He was not a nice man, but he did get things done and was very successful. CEOs view him as a visionary business leader. I found some really great quotes that I like to highlight and share.

On motivation:

(Y)ou should never start a company with the goal of getting rich. Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.

On impressions:

People DO judge a book by its cover. We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.

A great Jonny Ive quote:

Steve and I care about things like that, which ruin the purity and detract from the essence of something like a utensil, and we think alike about how products should be made to look pure and seamless.

On Apple stores:

Jobs decided that Apple stores should have only one entrance, which would make it easier to control the experience.

On problems:

If something isn’t right, you can’t just ignore it and say you’ll fix it later,” he said. “That’s what other companies do.

On how ruthlessly focused he was:

“What are the ten things we should be doing next?” People would fight to get their suggestions on the list. Jobs would write them down, and then cross off the ones he decreed dumb. After much jockeying, the group would come up with a list of ten. Then Jobs would slash the bottom seven and announce, “We can only do three.”

On the simplicity of the iPod:

In order to make the iPod really easy to use—and this took a lot of arguing on my part—we needed to limit what the device itself would do. Instead we put that functionality in iTunes on the computer.

On creativity:

There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat,” he said. “That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.

On Apple’s approach to building great products:

We believe that it’s technology married with the humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.

On focus:

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he said. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.

These quotes are courtesy of Isaacson, Walter (2011). Steve Jobs (Kindle Location 1601). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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My First iPhone Game: Outlaw Poker

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This is the story of Outlaw Poker, an iPhone game I just launched that is equal parts Tetris and Poker. It’s a western themed puzzle falling blocks game. The object is to make 5 hand poker hands with the falling cards. The cards can be rotated just like in Tetris-style games so that you can arrange the cards into Poker hands horizontally or vertically. It is available here on the iTunes App store.

I initially had the idea almost a year ago. I wanted to make an iPhone game just to go through the process of making one as well as to have potential for some passive income. For those of you who are not familiar, developers can sell apps in the iTunes App Store and make money. The developer determines the price and whatever you make, Apple keeps 30% for facilitating the transaction and taking care of the distribution, billing, etc. Not a bad deal especially considering there are over 100 million iPhones in the world.

So how did this game come about? I was thinking about games I liked and games people liked in general. If I had to name one game that had mass appeal, it was Tetris, hands down. Another trend that has caught on in the recent years is the popularity of Poker. My thought was to combine the two popular concepts together: a falling cards game where you have to make Poker hands.

There wasn’t anything out there like this and I wanted to play it. People say one way to make a successful product is to scratch your own itch – that is, make something you want and hopefully others will want it too.

Since I wasn’t an iOS developer but designed stuff, I went about looking for a developer who would want to partner with me to develop this game. Initially I had recruited a lead Creative Designer who would lead the charge on the design direction of the game but he was quickly overwhelmed with his own work. I also managed to find an iOS developer who was initially interested but was also too busy to take the project on.

So the project never went anywhere for a good six months. I would design some screens and work out some details every now and then, always keeping an eye out for an iOS developer looking to meet a cofounder and have a game under his/her belt.

One day I went to some developer meetup and met my cofounder Ben Roesch. He was a friend of a friend and worked at Accenture Tech Labs, where I used to work. I was straight up with him. I told him about the concept, showed what screens I had to him and asked if he wanted to work on this app. I basically told him everything. If he decided to decline but run away and take my idea, he had it and I would be screwed. He was game though. Within 2 weeks he had a rough prototype of the game that basically worked but had none of the bells and whistles. It was a very good sign.

Over the next months, we would hash out the missing artwork/screens, tweak the gameplay, find the sound and music. One of the hardest things to come up with was the new company we formed. I love puns and wanted this new game studio to have a witty name. Since it was an game app company, I thought it would be cool to have the word ‘app’ in the name. Unfortunately anything that I came up with like ‘tap that app’ was already taken. I think I finally came up with Appuccino Games because I’m a big coffee drinker and it reflects the fact that coffee helped us make this game. I wanted the logo to reflect the dual nature of the word play (app and cappuccino). Once the name came together though, it was easy to come up with a concept for the logo – an iPhone that looked like a coffee cup.

I wanted to take this moment to thank everyone who had a hand in making it. A big chunk of this goes to Ben who without him, my concept would never have been realized. Thanks Ben. I also owe Matt Jensen a big thanks. He came up with the original art direction. Even though you didn’t have the bandwidth to join us on this, I still want to thank you for all the work you put in. Don, thanks for forming our new company. I look forward to more business with you. I also want to thank all the beta testers who gave us valuable feedback. I won’t remember everyone but here goes: Craig, Ulliott, Sami Rageb, Christian Arca, Joe Dwyer, Christopher Lee, Brad Flora, Ravi Singh, Tal Liron, Nick Aiello, Brandon Leonardo, and more.

I also want to take a moment to thank Steve Jobs. He’s been an inspiration to my career. Without him, this game would not be possible. The platform this game was built on would not have existed. You have enabled me to not only create this game, but to be able to distribute it to the world. Thank you.

Without further ado, our game is here on the App Store. There’s also a free ad-supported version here. The difference is that the free version has ads AND the ad takes up one whole row so you end up with less playing area.

Popularity: 6% [?]

Steve Job: More Than a Man

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Earlier this week, Steve Jobs passed away. I don’t recall the many CEO passings but it was all over the blogosphere and social media on top of being over the regular news channels. Many fans of Apple mourned him including myself. He was many things to many people. To CEOs, he was a visionary leader – able to see trends and industries well before others could. To other business leaders he was an amazing CEO, able to turn around a struggling company. To many he was an inspiration. A baby born out of wedlock, who was adopted, dropped out of college to pursue a dream, built a successful company, got fired from said successful company, start a few more (NeXT and Pixar), and went back to the original company and created wave after wave of hit products. To consumers, he was the guy who they associated with their wonderful Apple products.

What struck me was how many people mourned him. This is a man who runs a company, not a Hollywood celebrity or a rockstar. I doubt many CEOs would have this much impact when their time comes. There are so many products that are much more fundamental to our everyday lives yet we hardly think of them. For example electricity and clean water are essential necessities, but I doubt people care for say Thomas Edison or the CEO of ComEd the way they do Steve Jobs. The other CEO that I can think has this much fame would be Bill Gates who I think mostly people associated with being the richest man in the world at the time. No other person I can think of has been so closely associated with their brand. For example, I know people love their Wii or Xbox, but could they identify the creator? Probably no. People also love their cars and expensive watches, but I also highly doubt those people could identify their makers.

With every product launch Steve Jobs has been at the helm of the presentation giving every keynote until he was no longer able to physically do so. By doing that, he made him and the brand inseparable. When the products and the company became successful because of his absolute focus on quality, design and the whole user experience, he became a pop culture icon. People loved Apple products – Steve’s products, and thus they loved him.

Not only did he represent great products, he symbolized an ideal. His commencement speech at Stanford in 2005 revealed a man who believed in only doing things that mattered because life was short. In his own words, he wanted to make a dent in the universe. He believed in not living someone else’s life. I can’t imagine how this message could not resonate with most people.

Popularity: 3% [?]

Designing For iPad

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A couple weeks ago I gave a talk titled ‘Designing for iPad’ at WindyCityGo, a mobile conference in Chicago. It was about my experience designing my iPad app BizTome.

Here’s a video of the talk along with my slides.

Designing for iPad by Pek Pongpaet from ChicagoRuby on Vimeo.

For more presentations from that conference, please go to the WindiCityGo website.

Popularity: 5% [?]

Thoughts on iPad Killers

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It seems that every week there is some article on yet another iPad Killer. Whenever I hear this, two things happen: I groan, and I vomit a little in my mouth. I get that these articles capitalize on the popularity of the iPad, and other companies are jumping on the bandwagon also because of the popularity of the iPad. Companies just don’t get it.

The iPad is a beautiful device. I’ve had it for 6 months now and find that indeed it has a place between my mobile phone and my laptop. However it’s going to take much more than just a super awesome touch based tablet to take down the iPad.

The beauty of the iPad is that it’s much more than just the iPad. The iPad is really just a gateway to Apple’s money making machine. Through the iPad I have access to Apple’s immense library of music and movies through iTunes, Apple’s massive collection of apps in the App Store, and now Apple’s growing library of books in iBooks. It’s a whole ecosystem. If I went with another device, say a Windows tablet or Android tablet, currently I would need an account to buy music (Amazon mp3), a separate account to buy books (like Kobo etc), and another account to buy apps (Google). With Apple, it’s all tied to my iTunes account and it just works. They make it really easy and sweet to buy content. That is why the iPad is optimized for consumption and not for production. Any tablet device seriously thinking about toppling the iPad better have all these things. And this is not something easily done since it took even Apple over a decade to build all this up and build a brand and mindshare.

Another thing Apple has done better than any other device manufacturer is to embrace designers. This was a fortunate side effect from designers adopting the Adobe software + Apple hardware combo. This is why there are so many gorgeous apps in the Apple App Store. For example Microsoft has never been able to crack that egg. Even though the Microsoft stack has been adopted in the enterprise, they’ve never embraced designers until lately. Their attempt at that with the Microsoft Expression Engine is not likely to turn over any designers any time soon. Designers have been using the Adobe suite of graphic tools for over a decade. I myself have been using PhotoShop for over that long and don’t foresee switching anytime soon. I’m not the only one.

Why are designers important? For one thing – gorgeous apps. Consumers will buy well designed applications. You only need to look at the Apple App Store’s top sellers and compare it to the Droid Marketplace. The App Store’s top sellers list is filled with beautifully designed apps whereas the Marketplace list various game emulators. It’s pretty clear to me that the demographic of the Android platform is mostly developers, engineers and tech geeks. I think it reflects the culture of the two companies pretty well. Apple is about design and Google is mostly an engineering company. Google has been described as antidesign if anything. That’s fine but at the end of the day ugly apps just won’t sell.

All that aside, there’s really no way to tell who’s going to win in the long run. The Androis OS is quickly gaining marketshare and will continue to do so as more and more phone manufacturers and tablet manufacturers adopt it. Who’s to say that other companies might not be able to address the issues I’ve mentioned and eat into Apple’s marketshare.

Popularity: 3% [?]

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