Entrepreneurial Read – Steve Jobs: A Biography by Walter Isaacson

I just finished reading a Walter Isaacson’s (authorized) biography of Steve Jobs. The book is definitely a page turner and I am somewhat sad to have reached the final page today.

The fact that there are 1266 reviews of this book on amazon.com at the time of this writing shows two things: 1) how much Steve Jobs’ legacy resonates with people 2) that there is no shortage in reviews. Given the latter, I’d like to limit myself to a very brief summary of the main points that the entrepreneur in me will take away from this read.

Focus, focus, focus. Apples product range is fairly narrow. Apples products are extremely minimalistic. I believe that this is one of the core success factors of the company. As a founder I know that it is often very tempting to jump at all the other ideas you might have and address all the requests for features expressed by single users. But to succeed you should do very few things but do them the best possible way.

Pay attention to detail. I like the part of the book where Steve Jobs’ obesession with good packaging is described. He says that the packaging should set the tone for how the user perceives the product. It got me thinking: I had about seven or eight cell phones in my life thus far. I do not remeber the packaging of any one of them. Except of one: I do remember like it was yesterday how valuable the surface of the iPhone box felt and how easy the lid slid open. What may seem as an irrelevant detail has the power to shape the user experience. And every product is just a collection of such litte details. Unfortunately in a start-up environment time-to-market considerations do not really allow you to work with such attention to detail in most cases.

Create an end-to-end experience. Apple created an end-to-end experience¬† by integrating hard- and software, by running their own shops, by selling you the music you want to put on your device – and by controling, wich apps will not be available on your device. That way they control all aspects of the user experience. While most entrepreneuers do not sell hard and software and won’t create their own shops, I believe there is one valuable insight in this: create continuity in your user interactions spanning all facettes of your product. For a web based product that may mean that you align the feel of all interactions the user has with your product: from the website to invoicing and customer support. That way you shape the user’s perception of entering your “product world”. And I believe that apple proved that to be successful.

Besides all the other exciting aspects, Isaacson’s book shows a master of user experience design at work. And that is truly inspiring.