In a rare 1996 interview Steve Jobs on Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser in a second question asked Jobs “What went wrong at Apple?” which at that point in time was in the midst of collapsing.
The interview was aired by PBS just a few months before Pixar CEO and NeXT founder Jobs would rejoin Apple and eventually regain his position as its chief executive the following year, and ended up being an insight into the strategy that not only propelled Apple in its early years, but also would help it to become the technology giant it is today.
Rukeyser: You first came to public attention with Apple. In recent weeks it’s been one of the failure stories of Wall Street, and indeed of the American economy. What went wrong at Apple?
Jobs: Oh gosh. You know I haven’t been there in a long time. My perception may not be complete. But from the way I see it, Apple was a company that was based on innovation. When I left Apple ten years ago, we were ten years ahead of anybody else. It took Microsoft ten years to copy Windows.
The problem was that Apple stood still. Even though it invested cumulatively billions in R&D, the output has not been there. People have caught up with it, and its differentiation has eroded, in particular with respect to Microsoft.
And so the way out for Apple — and I think Apple still has a future; there are some awfully good people there and there is tremendous brand loyalty to that company — I think the way out is not to slash and burn, it’s to innovate. That’s how Apple got to its glory, and that’s how Apple could return to it.
Below we have embedded a four-minute Rukeyser interview:
And, the full nine-minute segment, which begins with a long pre-taped intro is here: