The genius of Jobs and Apple wasn’t the product. It was the vision, the process and the people.
The vision was his ability to step back from the semiconductors and programming code and see their value from the point of view of a user. They don’t care about features or amortizing your tooling costs. They care about what the product does for them. In some cases, like the iPod, the product did less than the competition (iPods never had radios, while all of their competitors did). In all cases, they were willing to drastically changed tooling if it would give the user a device that felt higher quality.
The process and the people go together. Steve Jobs was not a designer, or a good programmer. He was good and finding them, inspiring them and giving them the tools to succeed. He did it with Wozniak on the Apple II. The Mac programmers in ’83, when he insisted that command line computing was dead. And again when he made Jonathan Ive the head of design. The exact process they used is a secret, although we can have some educated guesses. For example, the Apple Mac Book Air was followed by many other similar computers (Intel Core2 Duo processor, flash memory hard drive & designed to be thin) in just a few months. Anyone familiar with product development will understand that they weren’t copies, they were developed in parallel to the MacBook Air, but the Air got out first. That leads me to believe there was a ruthless phase-gate process where the design gets frozen very early to allow the whole development team to focus on delivering a product rather than argue over specifications.
How Steve Jobs Ruined My Life – Core77