Apple-co founder Steve Wozniak has criticised brands that prioritise advertising over product innovation.
Wozniak, who famously founded tech giant Apple alongside Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne, admitted his perception of marketers used to constitute as “those funny folk who would battle against our [engineers’] ideas”.
Speaking in his headline slot at the Festival of Marketing yesterday (5 October), he also admitted a marketer once pleaded with him and Jobs to stop using ‘Apple’ as the brand name.
“Our ad agency said to me and Steve: ‘You’ve got to give up the name Apple as it doesn’t imply the power of the computers’,” revealed Wozniak. “We tried to tell them once our products get into the home and change people’s lives it will make sense as an apple is a good name for a household brand.”
Responding to a question on whether Apple now faces a struggle to innovate as much as it did in the past, Wozniak admitted Apple might have reached a plateau.
“Maybe we are at an innovation plateau as we now have reached a certain height on cameras, microphones and sensors. But Apple’s role is always to create the very best,” he explained.
“People ask ‘Are [Apple] innovating?’ and say Samsung is now innovating more, but the most important thing is to make the biggest difference to people’s lives.”
Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple
“Samsung had the fingerprint sensor first but by the time it finally did its job, you might as well have got your credit card out. Apple Pay worked flawlessly and now everybody copies it”.
What is real marketing?
According to Wozniak, the definition of real marketing is “understanding what people want in products and being honest when talking about how much it is truly worth to them”. And he believes the Google approach to advertising dollars is the wrong one: “Google primarily makes money off advertising, while Apple makes [it from] good products – there’s a big difference.”
During Apple’s rapid ascent to a billion-dollar listed business in the 1980s, Wozniak said he sold shares to workers as “it simply wasn’t fair” three men [he along with Jobs and Wayne] should share all the wealth. He advised the audience: “Greed should never come before innovation.”
So what for the future? Wozniak, who once took time out of Silicon Valley to fulfill his “dream” to work as a fifth grade teacher, hopes education will become Apple’s next focus.
He concluded: “I am open for a day where we have one teacher per student who can tailor to every child’s individual needs. Computers aren’t human enough yet but when they are every single student can rise in whatever direction they want to go in. Wouldn’t that be something?”