Interesting quote from The New Yorker:

“Who will be the next Steve Jobs? I doubt it will be Mark Zuckerberg. He gives every indication of being the next Bill Gates: a smart dude who has one great idea at the right time, builds a monopoly, and then keeps it by releasing stuff that’s good enough but never great. I can say this for sure: the next Jobs won’t be someone trying to be Jobs. You can’t be a great innovator by imitating. So it won’t be someone who changes design a little bit more in the way that Apple has changed it—by making a phone just that much sleeker, a box that much whiter, or a tablet that much faster.

It will be someone who sees something we need before we know we need it. Most of the three million Miles Davis tribute albums are lame.” (emphasis added)

- Nicholas Thompson, The Next Steve Jobs (And the Last One)

Category: Philosophy, Technology

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33 Responses to “QOTD: The next Steve Jobs?”

  1. dina says:

    The next Steve Jobs will be from Asia. Smart Americans want to become next Warren Buffet.

  2. peachin says:

    There will be no other… but there are some who are moving their own way and we cannot discount Jeff Bezos….Having said “no other” lets look at a different tier: Miles, T.Monk, Charlie Rose, Bob Dylan… and after all Shakespeare and Mozart after more than 100 years… a very few… there is something about “Excellence Extraordinaire” and if we move one more tier down… a few more

  3. PeterR says:

    The next Steve Jobs (not that he would be comfortable with this discussion in his name IMO) is probably already working on something which most of us will recognize, only years or decades from now, as an act of genius.


    Hmmmm, Mr. Jobs died only in the last week or so. Has he already reincarnated in a new body, and will hit us with the next wave of invention in 10-20 years or so? His last life seemed somewhat imperfect, at least to these eyes:

    – refusing to talk to his birth Dad even to the end
    – authorizing a biography because he “was not there” for his kids
    – etc.
    – etc.

    “Hit us again, Steve” in a new body, and thank you for your brilliance!

    Have a good weekend.


    PS — This quote from the bottom of the post above does not seem to make sense.
    It will be someone who sees something we need before we know we need it. Most of the three million Miles Davis tribute albums are lame.” (emphasis added)
    Only one quotation mark at the end, etc.. Did two “pastes” get merged? At a minimum something seems as if it has been taken out of context.

  4. streeteye says:

    Build a big business: hard. Build it with good taste and without compromising a creative vision: harder. Steve Wynn is another one of the rare breed, he too had the experience of getting fired shortly after completing a masterpiece. Being able to combine both, understand the tech and inspire and lead engineers is rare indeed. If the bean-counters don’t chew you up and spit you out, the nerds will.

    Zuck is color-blind and wears a hoodie everywhere, FFS.

  5. ToNYC says:

    The next Steves will be cutting away the dead media in our collective reality to reveal the connections s/he sees. The challenge is to be able to build a team that completely believes in the vision and the luck to know who to get rich with.

  6. macheetah says:

    How about Elon Musk, the man who ushered in:

    E-commerce payments: PayPal
    Electric cars: Tesla
    Affordable Rockets: SpaceX

    Not to mention he chairs and funded the current leader in residential solar power: SolarCity

  7. wiredacres says:

    Definitely worthy of the QOTD. And the thing is, is that identifying the ‘next Steve Jobs’ will likely not happen/be possible until he(or she) is well into changing our world.

  8. bear_in_mind says:

    Nicholas Thompson is exactly right.

    At its core, I believe what we’re talking about is an intense drive for creativity and originality, coupled with an innate sense (aka “vision”) on what’s needed and what isn’t; and then applying these abilities to synthesize disparate influences into a unique, harmonious new form. For those interested in the creative process, I’d highly recommend reading “The Courage to Create” by Rollo May

    While Miles Davis didn’t invent the trumpet, he disrupted the expectations of what could be done with it and showed how it could be used in a whole new way. Jobs may not have invented the concept of the mouse (that came from Xerox PARC), but he disrupted expectations of what could be done with it… and shepherded engineers and designers to alter the man/machine interface in a whole new way. Neither existed in a vacuum; both were influenced by their creative forefathers and contemporaries.

    At least in Jobs’s case, we definitely know he had a deep desire to reshape the direction of technology and society through the liberation of technology from the elites to the masses. No, it wasn’t always the least expensive solution, but it frequently was the most useful and elegant.

    When we’ll see another Steve Jobs? It’s anyone’s guess. There’s no doubt there are individuals with similar potential walking amongst us now, but Steve Jobs represented a unique culmination of person and environment (i.e. timing, opportunity, support). It’s the alchemy of those tangibles and intangibles that will determine the “if/when/where” on whether another individual will rise to similar influence and prominence.

  9. endorendil says:

    Can the hagiographies be over with already? Jobs was a marketing genius. He made industrial design for the masses. Great. Like Giugiaro, Vuitton or Delvaux, he created a luxury brand that touched millions (well, his products were a lot cheaper than what those three pumped out). But he didn’t make anything we needed except as status symbols. They sold 300 million ipods. Most people didn’t buy one, but two or three. Most of these people live under the same household. I seriously doubt that more than 100 million households have ever had an iPod, or any Mac product at all. The vast majority of us “makes do” with products that are far more powerful, and a lot cheaper. Don’t cry for us. We don’t cry for you.

  10. Bob A says:

    I just dont get this Steve Jobs worship and I never will.

  11. Jim Greeen says:

    I seems everyone pays homage to the idea of ‘thinking out side the Box‘. But how many of us really, really do
    before we retreat into the comforts of the mundane?

    Jobs thought outside the box and never retreated. Where will the next Jobs come? Might start the look with someone who is comfortable living and thinking outside the box.

  12. franklin411 says:

    Jobs never invented anything. Stop insulting the real visionaries, Barry.

    Jobs was just a damn good huckster–one of the 20th/21st century’s best con men.

  13. Rouleur says:

    F411 – you know nothing of the aesthetic, of design, of elegant simplicity…or, at least you discount its value to zero…

  14. ssc says:

    This is amazingly out of proportion. Objectively, what did Jobs do? He ushered in another era of really slick tech toys including some pretty slick computing device, and, I guess, most important of all, made a lot of people incredible amount of money. I don’t know if we have ever seen another Henry Ford, but last I heard, those Japanese and German and now Korean cars are pretty fine. I don’t know if we have ever seen another Albert Einstein, last I heard, physics did not become a waste land…Importance of any individual is often way overblown.
    This could well be the sign of the times, as somebody that “made more money for more people than anybody else” (I think Jim Cramer said that, and I am NOT one of JC’s detractors), sold a ton of slick stuff, is so unbelievably revered.
    This past couple of years, we (myself and wife, plus 6 horses) are having a lot of medical problems, we’ve been in and out of all kinds of vet and physician offices, not to mention dentist. We’ve gone through numerous MRI, CAT scan, digital X-ray, ultra sound… The amazing thing was everything single equipment was run by Windows based software. If Jobs and his inventions are so important, how came I did not see even one Mac or iPad in these often life and death situations??
    BTW, Jobs did not invent the super premium/slick product with premium price model. The one company that came to mind was Sony, I still vividly remember the first time I saw a Sony Triniton TV in the 60s and I could not believe the image (or the price either), then years later, Walkman turned the whole portable audio gizmo market upside down, kind of like what iPod did.
    I spent 50 some years of my life living in either cities or suburbs, not until I retired to a rural area some years ago that I started to appreciate Sam Walton and Walmart, any and all of almighty Apple products I can easily live without(and I do), but without Walmart, the simplest household item will be 125 miles away, and for some other rural towns, if take away Walmart, even grocery will be 2-300 miles away.
    Finally, the QOTD said Zuckerberg was like Bill Gates, just one big idea… I don’t know, I think it kind of depends on what the one big idea is, say, if that one big idea is cure for cancer, or really simplify our hopeless tax code, then I doubt many people will take a life time supply of new Apple product in exchange.

  15. Chief Tomahawk says:

    Replace Steve Jobs? That ought to be easy compared to developing the next Barry Ritholtz!

  16. bear_in_mind says:

    ssc: sorry to hear of your (collective) medical challenges. Regarding critical applications, several major airlines have adopted the iPad (not a generic tablet) for pilots to use for flight planning and checklists. In the medical setting, most of the installed base still uses Windows, but medical sales and training, the iPad is making rapid in-roads. If you’ve heard Jobs’s 2005 Stanford commencement speech and it didn’t resonate, well, there’s nothing he could say or do that’d shift your thinking. On the topic of WalMart, much like corporate farms crushed most family farms, WalMart ran off most locally-owned businesses. Good luck and to better health ahead.

  17. Thomaspin says:

    Scott Forstall at Apple.

    iOS is the future in the post-PC world.

    Just look at his eyes and body language when he presents and compare with the medicorities he shares the stage with. He has passion, charisma, latent anger, energy, humor, smarts and looks like he suffers no fools.

    Sound familiar?

    The automaton in charge is doubtless competent. The next Jobs needs passion. Competence is cheap and abundantly available. Anyone can type.

  18. JB7456 says:

    I don’t know but I think Bill Gates should get something for inventing eternal squareness.

  19. illoguy says:


    Comments from people who don’t get what the big deal is about Steve Jobs.

    Take a few years of design, study how hard it is to get great ideas executed then get back to us.

    If you think design is about making something pretty, you will have to go back to remedial design.

  20. dsawy says:

    There won’t be another Steve Jobs, because the computer industry has been changing rapidly in the last 10 years, driving towards a commoditized market.

    We’ve seen this before. Go check out the days of early radio in the US. There were innovators and industry giants like Jobs there too… and while their market was being commoditized, their leaders died off and never were replaced by anyone who did what Armstrong, Sarnoff, et al did in radio in the early years ever again (Armstrong was the technical whiz and leader, Sarnoff was the rip-off artist and self-promoter). Today, consumers don’t even think twice about radios, or think about paying a premium for one. No one is about to jump into the radio market and design the “next big thing” there.

    The computer industry started back east, and the whole minicomputer industry grew up around Boston and the 128/495 belt west of Boston. Today, no one even thinks about what rose up and fell into dirt there. DEC, DG, Wang, Prime, Apollo… all with huge technical and business leaders in the 70′s and 80′s. The Unix mafia of Sun/HP/MIPS/SGI came on the scene and killed all of them, and the Unix mafia was in turn killed by PC’s.

    In the next 10 years, computing is going to become so commoditized it will seem as common as turning on a tap and getting potable water.

  21. Grego says:

    I haven’t read so much bullshit about a dead guy since Reagan died.

    It’s interesting to read the over-the-top Jobs praise on a web site urging ruthless objectivity in business. I worked for Linkabit in the mid-80s. It was basically the practice run for Qualcomm, which I assume is known here. Back then computers were safely locked up in large, cold rooms. Our handlers bought a few Macs and put them around to play with. We’d play with it, marvel at how cool it was to delete files by dropping them on a picture of a trash can, play missle command, then go back to work on our VT100 terminals because there was nothing else to do with Macs. I worked on a few under-management-radar-and-budget projects, and we started using PCs for development because some innovative tools were starting to appear that ran on them. They were irritating and clumsy, but the job got done. Macs? Nothing. Impenetrable for R&D. When I wandered off to another startup east coast, I was the first real SW engineer. The choice was obvious. We didn’t have the time, budget or staff for a VAX or specialized workstations, PC software was sprouting like mushrooms; we put PCs on every desk. By the time we were bought out by HP, they had also.

    Steve Jobs sold well-designed consumer electronics gadgets. Bill Gates changed the world. And yeah, I hate Windows, but this is just history.

  22. Edward Moel says:

    The future Steve Jobs is a South African 22 year old kid. Founded 2 companies, IKlikit Inc and Flip Page mp OS. Name of the kid is Lifa Bekwa. Look out for him, I know what he is up to right and there’s a storm coming not even a weather man could have predict. Thank you

  23. Introducing Siri: DARPA’s Ghost in Apple’s Machine
    October 5th, 2011

    So their eyes are growing hazy
    cos they want to turn it on
    so their minds are soft and lazy, well…
    give em what they want

    —10,000 Maniacs – Candy Everybody Wants

    One of the stocks that I used to kick around in the 1990s was that of a now long dead company called General Magic. Back then, I looked into the company and learned that it was, in essence, divested from Apple in 1990. It was made up of former Apple employees and Apple held 10% of the company.

    Apple has been thinking about the post PC era (that we’re actually entering now, according to them) since the 1980s. Here’s Apple’s Knowledge Navigator concept from 1987: …”

    “…This wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, so they spun it off into General Magic.

    If you’ve seen Apple’s Siri in action, that’s the type of thing that General Magic wanted to do back in the 1990s. With the old Portico system, users called into the service, rather than the service running on the phone, as is the case with Siri. Here’s an almost unwatchable promo for General Magic’s Portico product (circa 1997): …”

    “…Now, what’s in a name?

    Look closely at the name: Siri. What letters stand out?

    See it yet?

    S i R I.

    SRI = Stanford Research Institute.

    It turns out that Apple’s Siri used to be SRI’s Siri, and SRI’s Siri is… Are you ready? A spinoff of DARPA’s PAL (Perceptive Assistant that Learns) program, which SRI called CALO (Cognitive Agent that Learns and Organizes)….”

    “…People are going to pay a lot of money to have their asses tracked to within a couple of meters by a device running a civilian version of DARPA’s soldier’s servant software.

    The most disturbing aspect of this is not what the iPhone 4s is going to be phoning home to Apple (which is unknown), or the invasion of The Complex into most aspects of our lives, but the fact that, in general, people would think that you were nuts for having these reservations at all. I mean, what could possibly be wrong with re-purposed DoD AI software running on a mass market consumer device that persistently reveals the user’s location to the state?

    Ah well, give em what they want.”

    Posted in Coincidence?, COINTELPRO, Covert Operations, Dictatorship, Economy, Elite, Rise of the Machines, Surveillance, Technology, War

  24. ToNYC says:

    RIM is the only remaining credible outpost of security. Security like Species Awareness is a moving curtain that represents the dominant force in play and paradigm for most everyone. Touch screen world involves aggregator sites that present but no longer contains any visual representation of unique and credible source. When bankers go to meetings all tonied up in iPads with their own unique login, they could be seeing sources more appropriate to their book and editable from a counterparty information arbitrageur. Fisher-Price knows best; children love their toys. The next dimension in plastic surgery is clear. No worries; wireless is fine for remote tuning.

  25. Greg0658 says:

    MEH scary movie .. a guns supermarket to the world means more to capitalisms growth
    (than butter supermarket to the world)

  26. InterestedObserver says:

    Interesting comments. As always, the extremes of view miss it.

    What did Jobs really do? My read – the design decisions that he forced brought existing technology to the masses in a form that “simply worked”. It wasn’t the most powerful, wasn’t most cutting edge from a tech perspective, but it was arguably the most accessible to the everyman and was cutting edge from an integration perspective.

    He also extended the vision from that of a singular device (PC, phone, whatever) to a hardware/software/communications ecosystem (music, news, Internet, books, etc.). Some of it happened outside his realm, other parts he drove, but he seemed unique in possessing an integrated vision. He wasn’t alone. Bezos/Amazon/Kindle are right there as well.

    Think about it. iTunes/iOS app Store/Kindle – look at what they’ve done to how music/video/media/news/books are created and distributed. Sure, oodles of stuff happens outside these channels and that will continue. However, if you want to deal with a curated portal which hastens product discovery, these are the standard ones, they’re the ones with volume and scalability right now. Tomorrow might be different, actually tomorrow will be different when the next Jobs/Bezos comes down the pike and captures what I want.

    I tend to agree that some of the commentary is over the top. Jobs had a vision. He executed that vision extremely well. He executed it at a time when the world and technology were ready to achieve it and embrace it.

  27. Robert M says:

    I think the thing most impressive about Jobs is he learned from his mistake. What is always overlooked in discussion I read and hear is his refusal to license the idea of icons to Bill Gates; I doubt there are many who think of Gates as a great innovator given he always licensed everyone else’s ideas. That loss in court cemented the idea that he had to control and find people whom could handled being controlled in order to execute his world view. It is rare to find people who motivate that way so the probability that we can spot that person is very, very poor. this makes it unlikely that anyone knows who it is.

  28. bear_in_mind says:

    Exactly! He was one of the few idealists from the 60′s who embodied old-fashioned innovation and determination, core tenets of America’s DNA.

    In an industry populated with really smart people, he displayed leadership by ensuring Apple remained heavily invested in R&D while so many contemporaries were slashing R&D and re-branding other people’s ideas as a way to pad their bottom-line. He exhibited an unrelenting quest to improve knowledge, products and profits. He indeed learned from his mistakes and from the brilliant people around him and did it without HFT, financial derivatives or CDO’s.

    While so much of American industry is stuck in neutral or going in reverse, he demonstrated success can still happen on our shores. You can call it BS if you want, but you’re flat on the wrong side of the facts and history.

  29. bear_in_mind says:

    From Twitter: @Jason Calacanis
    Very important point from @erickschonfeld — Apple Has 1,000 Engineers Working On Chips For The Post-PC Era | TechCrunch:

  30. RC says:

    Thanks for providing real perspective. Without Bill Gates there would NOT have been a personal computer revolution, period.

  31. budhak0n says:

    Won’t know the answer to this one for at least another 15 years. I think there’s a whole lot of us who’d like to throw our hats in the ring.

    It’s some kid sitting around right now glued to cartoon network or Transformers who probably isn’t told he’s smart enough to work at a taco bell.