Steve Wozniak, known by many as Woz was the keynote speaker of Apps-World 2013 at Earls Court, London. As a member of the press via my website, I was invited and given a press pass. The whole day was a very surreal experience, basically being treated like a member of royalty as each exhibitor tries to get your attention. For the keynote I got to use the special press area! (The front row in other words!) Being sandwiched between reporters from The Guardian and TechRadar was an interesting experience to say the least! Steve Wozniak was definitely trying to encourage us to be better at creating successful technology startups. With the rise of kickstarter this was definitely portrayed to us as the best time in years to start your own business venture. “The bigger a company is the slower it changes, people who buy apple products want Apple like products. Any product which doesn’t fit into the Apple ideals is not the Apple way, you know whether its apple or not. This goes back to the day when Steve [Jobs] introduced the Macintosh. In the 1984 commercial we were the new guys, [now that we are established] you can’t take Apple in totally new directions. This gives smaller companies an advantage in finding the smaller areas of the market or come up with radical new ideas.” He then went to explain how apple developed quickly. “Marketing is the most important thing [in establishing a new business]” Woz then explained to us how it was easy to grow at first because the media like reporting on a business with a great idea who started from their garage. When Apple became a larger company the media got bored and left us, at this point it was hard to make an impact and only due to some great commercials like the 1984 they would have gone under. “At HP they turned down my ideas [for a PC] 5 times.” To be a great business leader you need to recognise a good idea when you see one. ”At HP we were only building tools that engineer’s use. We, the engineers were the experts.” As such the engineers came up with ideas which were largely ignored by HP. “Then Steve and I started Apple, we were going to be very market orientated very subject to the end user even when you are running on zero dollars.” This enabled us to create completely new product targeted towards consumers rather than businesses. He then continued on to explain how important he thinks engineers are in turning a good idea into reality, and even improving it. “If you are businessman please find the engineers. Engineering is so difficult and they think of things to improve your own product idea. Give it time to gel.” Engineers think of new ideas, “Oddball ideas that don’t pop into other people heads will come to you.” In producing and designing the product; “Excellence is absolutely important. I’ll improve the graphics etc. give it a second try make it better.” Even though he had just lectured us for quite a while on building a good business he claims; “I am not a businessman, I’ve certainly had start-ups on my own, and I invest when I like the idea in terms of an engineer not whether it could or could not be profitable” If all else fails you can always print your own cash. Steve started doing this with a friend, and somehow it is perfectly legal to use it in a shop, I can’t see how, and he didn’t properly explain it. “I nearly got arrested once and read my rights, but I got out of it” “I sometimes sell a sheet of 14 dollars for 8 dollars to random people in the street”. Apparently they are “Secret Service approved bills.” Besides focussing on business we learnt a few thing about Steve, the most surprising of which is that he openly criticised the new iPad Air as not suiting his needs. “ I called my wife and told her I wasn’t getting a new one, I was disappointed with the 128GB maximum storage” Furthermore he told us that “the iPhone could do with a much larger screen, probably around five inches.” Furthermore to that he said that Apple had taken the “wrong direction by changing the aspect ratio of the iPhone,” this was followed by a large cheer from the crowd made up of nearly entirely developers who must have agreed! He then proceeded to tell us that he doesn’t have home broadband, and only has a T1 line (1mbit/s). It takes hours to download a movie, and by the time I’ve downloaded it I don’t want it anymore.” In fact we learnt that only movie worth downloading and “watching about Apple is Pirates of Silicon Valley, although they didn’t get everything right, I really enjoyed it!” Steve’s currently spending most of his time on various projects such as FusionIO and other start-ups and visiting places around the world.
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