Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Video: The day Steve Jobs told Nike you 'make a lot of crap'

May 17, 2011: 8:28 AM ET

His advice: "Get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff"

Nike CEO Mark Parker. Source: Fast Company

Like many authors trying to sell books to a reading public whose attention span seems to be shrinking to 140 characters, Carmine Gallo never misses an opportunity to promote his two Steve Jobs "secrets" books: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs.

He does it again in the current issue of Forbes, in which he retails a story he says he came across while researching his latest book. What he doesn't do is credit his source: An interview with Nike (NKE) CEO Mark Parker that Fast Company editor Robert Safian conducted as part of that magazine's 2010 Innovation Uncensored conference.

The story is a good one, but Parker tells it better than Gallo or I can. See the video, originally published by Noah Robischon, below the fold.

Jobs' advice to "focus on the good stuff" echoes something he told Fortune's Betsy Morris in a rare 2008 interview:

Apple is a $30 billion company, yet we've got less than 30 major products. I don't know if that's ever been done before. Certainly the great consumer electronics companies of the past had thousands of products. We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.

I'm actually as proud of many of the things we haven't done as the things we have done. The clearest example was when we were pressured for years to do a PDA, and I realized one day that 90% of the people who use a PDA only take information out of it on the road. They don't put information into it.

Pretty soon cellphones are going to do that, so the PDA market's going to get reduced to a fraction of its current size, and it won't really be sustainable. So we decided not to get into it. If we had gotten into it, we wouldn't have had the resources to do the iPod. We probably wouldn't have seen it coming.

For more excerpts from that 2008 interview with Apple's (AAPL) CEO, click here.

Join the Conversation
About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

Email | @philiped | RSS
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.