Just a few months before Pixar CEO and NeXT founder Steve Jobs would rejoin Apple and eventually regain his position as its chief executive the following year, PBS aired an interview with Jobs that would end 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. Louis Rukeyser conducted the interview and in his second question, he asked Jobs “What went wrong at Apple?” which at that point in time was in the midst of collapsing. Jobs’s response:
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.
Several months after the interview aired, Jobs would sell what was left of his software company NeXT to Apple for $429 million — its NextSTEP operating system would become the foundation of OS X — and rejoin the company. A clip of PBS’s interview with Jobs follows below, and the full 9-minute interview can be found on the read link.