Steve Jobs on the frustrations of focus
Apr 19, 2008
A quote on the difficulty of focus from a recent feature in Fortune Magazine on Steve Jobs struck a chord with me.
Jobs’ frustration with focus resonates with this journalist entering business. Why? Because journalism rewards voracious dilettantism, while business rewards monomaniacal focus.
Jobs’ words below on focus were not available on the online version for some reason:
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all.
It means saying no to the 100 other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.
I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.
The clearest example was when we were pressured for years to do a PDA, and I realized one day that 90 percent of the people who use a PDA only take information out of it on the road. They don’t put information into it.
Pretty soon cellphones are going to do that, so the PDA market’s going to get reduced to a fraction of its current size. So we decided not to get into it.
If we had gotten into it, we wouldn’t have had the resources to do the iPod.
Note: I like his point, but find the example is a little disingenuous. The iPod focussed on functions that were already available on phones, but did them better.