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Leading Apple With Steve Jobs: Management Lessons From a Controversial Genius by Jay Elliot

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No More Crap Products

When the LaserWriter was introduced—one of the first laser printers to make a splash and the one that set the standard—Apple still had on hand a large number of dot-matrix printers, which were by then outdated technology: they produced low-quality printouts and could not print graphics. Steve ordered them withdrawn from the sales channel and scrapped. He could hardly contain himself when he later found that they were still in the stores, still being sold. Steve’s attitude was, “It’s become a crap product. Get rid of them.” The marketing people howled, “That would mean taking a big loss. We can move them out at a steep discount.”

Steve understood that a lot of people would like the bargain of these inexpensive printers, even if the quality wasn’t very good. He didn’t care. He had the product focus, and that meant not selling inferior goods. “Blow them out,” he ordered. He wanted every one of them dumped, regardless of how much money the company had to write off.

Steve went on to surround himself with people who understood and appreciated, or who already were living by, the product-focus concept. When he left Apple after the clash with management in 1985, that vision walked out the door with him. Apple became just another product company, where the only thing that mattered was numbers: sales, profits, stock price.

There was an aftermath to the dot-matrix affair: Steve said he wanted me to form a task force “to make sure we don’t have any other crap products ...

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