Love him or hate him, Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs left a lasting market on the computing world. From the original Macintosh to the iPod to the iPhone, Jobs looked to counter traditional computing devices of the day and blaze a new path.
In order to ensure that the uniqueness of Apple would live on, Jobs conceived “Apple University” in 2008 and tasked Joel Podolny, an Apple VP, to run the program. To put it simply, Apple University offers courses to Apple employees that helps them stay in tune with the company’s business culture and history.
New employees — including those from companies that Apple acquires — are highly encouraged to take classes tailored to their job position, but they are not required. The New York Times, however, reports that new employees “rarely” pass on the opportunity to take the classes.
One of the courses is entitled “The Best Things” and encourages employees to produce the best work by surrounding themselves with talented individuals and “high-quality materials.”
Some of the courses detail important business decisions made by the company over the years, including a case study on the move to offer a Windows version of iTunes for the iPod. Steve Jobs was adamant against allowing the iPod to work with Windows machines, but eventually acquiesced to his leadership team paving the way for not only a Windows version of iTunes, but also explosive growth of the iPod.
The iPod first gained limited Windows compatibly with Musicmatch Jukebox software in 2002, while the fully Windows compatible version of iTunes first bowed in 2003.
Given that design is very much a part of Apple, a course entitled “What Makes Apple, Apple” points out what the company sees as design missteps taken by its competitors. In one example, Sony is called out for one of its Google TV remotes that features 78 buttons. Randy Nelson, who is one of the instructors that teaches the class, then touts the Apple TV remote, which features just three primary buttons in addition to its directional pad as being the proper solution.
Sony’s 78-button Google TV remote
The NYT reports:
They started out with an idea [for the Apple TV remote], Mr. Nelson explained, and debated until they had just what was needed — a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu…
[The Sony remote] had so many buttons, Mr. Nelson said, because the individual engineers and designers who worked on the project all got what they wanted.
It should be noted that even the bathrooms are “magical,” with one employee who spoke with the NYT stating, “Even the toilet paper in the bathrooms is really nice.”
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