Hey, I didn’t call Sculley a business genius…

Hey, I didn’t call Sculley a business genius, you can thank Del Yocam for formalising & restructuring Apple into an efficient and accountable world-class company. And it was Mike Spindler who was responsible for the split personality product lines that caused more confusion than anything else. Gassee was charismatic driving force that refined the Mac line, as well as coming up with the original idea to keep prices high. Co-founder Mike Markkula admired Sculley’s vision, but deplored his lack of direction, so Sculley had to go. Unfortunately, his choice of replacement — Spindler — wasn’t any better, and in some ways much worse. It wasn’t uncommon to find Spindler curled up in a ball under his desk with a panic attack due to stress. Gil Amelio was just Markkula’s yes-man, the only right thing he did was over-ride the Board and choose Jobs and NeXT over Gassee’s BeOS and then piss off to the park with his platinum handshake.

Jobs did revitalise Apple, but not because of OSX, nor his recruitment of Jon Ive as lead designer. He did the right thing by killing the clones, but the wrong thing in completely closing down the ATG. Apart from his uncanny eye for (as lavo put it) finding an idea and tweaking it, Jobs’ first and foremost skill is purchasing. No matter who had the components he wanted, he could swing the most incredible deals and get pricing and supply contracts that were the envy of Silicon Valley. His first baby, the original iMac, despite its record low price, had a post-production margin higher than any other computer in Apple’s history.

A visionary isn’t going to be able to cut corners, find something that catches the eye of the general public in the fastest way possible, and then produce the goods for the lowest cost possible. No, for that you need a ruthless, utter bastard who is prepared to exploit any opportunity, who wields dictatorial power over the corporate entity as if it were his own personal feifdom with his hand in every pie and eye watching over every shoulder. And the Board let him get away with it because the money started flowing back in hand over fist, with revenue flows not seen since the early part of the Jobs / Sculley / Gassee golden years, when Apple could do no wrong.

Jobs holds all the cards now, and he may have had a vision of bringing the graphical interface to the masses, but he was never ever a visionary.

“Brains” on the return of Jobs to Apple.