Steve Jobs’ advice to Larry Page

Sat, Oct 22, 2011


Steve Jobs’ hatred for Android can’t be overstated. In a recently released excerpt, the Apple co-founder vowed to destroy Android and told biographer Walter Isaacson he’d spend his last dying breath trying to right what Jobs considered to be Google’s grand theft of Apple’s iOS.

Nevertheless, Jobs appeared to have mended fences with Google CEO Larry Page, though the same can’t be said for former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Following Steve Jobs’ death, Page wrote the following about Jobs:

His focus on the user experience above all else has always been an inspiration to me. He was very kind to reach out to me as I became CEO of Google and spend time offering his advice and knowledge even though he was not at all well. My thoughts and Google’s are with his family and the whole Apple family.

With Jobs’ biography set for release this Monday, we now have more information as to what exactly that advice was.

When Page replaced Schmidt as Google CEO, he approached Jobs for some sage advice about being a CEO of a large corporation. Jobs tells Isaacson that his first response was to say “F you” to Page but had a change of heart upon recalling how HP co-founder Bill Hewlett had been a source of advice for him back in his younger days.

So Jobs put aside his Android hatred for a bit and imparted the following to Page.

“Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It’s now all over the map,” read the biography of Jobs’ interaction with Page. Later Jobs came to Page with a sharp advising tongue warning Google was making products, “that are adequate but not great. They’re turning you into Microsoft.”

Sound advice, to be sure, and focusing intensely on a few great products has been a consistent theme of Apple’s ever since Jobs returned in the late 90s. You might also remember that Jobs dispensed similar advice to Nike CEO Mark Parker after he assumed control of the shoe giant.

“Nike makes some of the best product in the world,” Jobs told Parker. “Products that you lust after, absolutely beautiful stunning products. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.”

While it’s too early to tell if Page took Jobs’ advice to heart, it does seem that Google under Page seems to be scaling back some of its many initiatives and sharpening its focus. In late July Page decided to wind down Google Labs and more recently Google announced plans to axe 5 services: Google Buzz, Code Search, University Research Program for Google Search, iGoogls social features, and Jaiku.

Clearly, Google is keen on narrowing its focus and eliminating products and services that never gained enough traction to warrant continued support. In a blogpost from a few months ago, Google said this was part of its plan to have “more wood behind fewer arrows.”

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Bumper Says:

    Perhaps Steve was angrier than he let on over the gift of Windows to M$ by the sugar water salesman, and wasn’t looking forward to history repeating itself.

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