On Platform Management: You’re looking at it wrong

A platform has to be careful managed to ensure consistency, evolution across a portfolio of devices. Here an excerpt from Apple Q4 2010 Earnings call where Steve Jobs replies to an analyst that asked about going into lower price points.

Thanks to seekingalpha.com for the transcript.

Toni Sacconaghi – Sanford Bernstein

Tim, maybe you want to comment, if I could push you on that Steve. So if the market starts to move towards somewhat lower functionality smartphones in that migration of non-smartphones to smartphones that you talked about. If the market starts to move to dramatically lower price points, you feel you can’t make an appropriate product that is good at those price points, you will cede share under those circumstances. Do I hear you correctly?

Steve Jobs

You’re looking at it wrong. You’re looking at it as a hardware person in a fragmented world. You’re looking at it as a hardware manufacturer that doesn’t really know much about software, who doesn’t think about an integrated product, but assumes the software will somehow take care of itself. And you’re sitting around saying, “Well, how can we make this cheaper? Well, we can put on a smaller screen on it and a slower processor, and less memory.” And you assume that the software will somehow just come alive on this product that you’re dreaming of, but it won’t. Because these app developers have taken advantage of the products that came before with faster processors, with larger screens, with more capabilities that they can take advantage of to make better apps for customers.

And it’s a hard one because it throws you right back into the beginning of that chicken and egg problem again to change all the assumptions on those developers. Most of them will not follow you, most of them will say, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to go back and write a watered down version of my app just because you’ve got this phone that you can sell for $50 less and you’re begging me to write software for it.”

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