Even those who admire Apple understand that the company has made a few mistakes in its day.
In fact, Apple is perfectly capable of turning things completely upside-down: witness the logo on the old PowerBook G3.
This is such an old tale, I’d actually forgotten it until I recently came across this image from Sex And The City.
I bring it up here only because it’s interesting how Apple makes decisions, and even more interesting to understand how some of the smartest people in the business can make such a questionable decision.
During one of our agency’s regularly scheduled marketing meetings with Steve, he asked for our advice on what he felt was a conundrum.
Which was more important — to make the logo look right to the owner before the PowerBook was opened, or to have it look right to the rest of the world when the machine was in use?
Look around today and the answer is pretty obvious. Every laptop on earth has a logo that’s right-side up when the machine is opened. Back then, it wasn’t so obvious, probably because laptops were not yet ubiquitous.
So we debated the issue. There were decent arguments on both sides. It seemed like we were damned if we did and damned if we didn’t.
Remember, Steve was the guy who put the customer experience first. In the end, that was the reason he ended making the decision he did. He thought that the most important person in the equation was the one who shelled out good money to buy the product in the first place.
It was only when later PowerBook models were designed that Steve reconsidered and decided the logo should face the world right-side up. That one fleeting moment of pleasure for the owner started to feel tiny in comparison.
Looking back, it borders on the unbelievable that something so wrong could ever have seemed right. That Steve Jobs ever wrestled with this decision only proves one thing: being right in retrospect is much easier than being right in real time.