Connected devices ‘will transform every skilled job’, says former Apple boss

Web Summit 2014: The exponential growth of connected technology known as ‘the internet of things’ will lead to the reinvention of almost every industry, former Apple chief executive John Sculley has said.

Former Apple CEO John Sculley in conversation at the Web Summit, Dublin
Former Apple CEO John Sculley (left) in conversation at the Web Summit, Dublin

Sculley, who was recruited by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1983, said the rapid ascent of connected devices had led to an age of ‘machine learning’ and a disruptive global economy in which customers, rather than brands, now hold the power. He pointed to the rise of ecommerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba as examples of “disruptive price and amped up customer experience”.

“The exciting thing for entrepreneurs is that getting access to the cloud is still really cheap,” he said at the Web Summit in Dublin. “Businesses are scaling in a matter of months at a rate that used to take years.”

Sculley also revealed details of his working relationship with Jobs. The pair famously fell out in the lead up to Jobs resigning from Apple in 1985. Sculley had refused to endorse his aggressive marketing plan for the Macintosh computer to the Apple board. “Steve never forgave me,” he said.

However he hailed the visionary qualities of Jobs, claiming that in that particular instance the Apple co-founder was simply ahead of what was technologically possible. “My definition of genius is the ability to see the obvious 20 years before it happens,” said Sculley. “Steve was already thinking about the iPhone way back in the 1980s.”

Sculley, who was the PepsiCo marketer behind the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ before his ten-year stint at Apple, last week launched a new low-cost smartphone brand, Obi Mobiles. The company, which is initially targeting young consumers in Asia, aims to offer fashionable phones at a lower price point to Apple.


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