Steve later griped to me about organizational priorities, broad issues, and business in general but it was obvious that the conversation was really about Apple.
Why does one company after another turn out mediocre products? Steve understood that the sales staff brings in the money. But when Apple started being ruled over by a leader whose sole expertise was in sales and marketing, Apple’s corporate thinking changed completely. Corporate priorities and the communication of ideas became centered on how to move product into the hands of the buyer. Executive meetings dwelt on revenues, profit and loss, and stock price performance, rather than on the features and the excellence of the product.
In fact one decision that was totally rejected by the Mac Pirates was not sticking with the original goal of selling the Mac for $999. The decision to make the selling price $2,495 was based on providing a fat marketing budget.
Decisions like that, made over and over at Apple to the point of nearly scuttling the company, weren’t unique. Companies continue to make that same mistake.
Only when the product is truly superior—hopefully so superior that the product sells itself—do the sales and marketing people take a back seat to product development.
That’s a mistake. The mantra must become, “The product is king.”