Woz on the Apple II’s success

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Steve Jobspassing made international headlines. This week, it’s nice to see the rest of the world remembers "the other Steve", Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Woz has been making the rounds throughout Eurasia, stopping first in Armenia, where he played some jokes on the hotel staff before going for a spin on the Segway.

Of greater substance is Woz’s interview with New Delhi Television in India. Woz spoke at length about not only Steve Jobs ("I haven’t read [Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs]. I have been so busy in the last two months. I never got around to reading that book… But I have lived a lot of it. So I am sure it is accurate") but also what made the Apple II a success, especially compared to other early Apple products:

Apple II became successful because of various reasons. Steve Jobs had a large part to play in it, and he knew where he wanted to go with it. It was an excellent product. Steve Jobs sought the best things in the world. He knew that I was the best designer, and that Apple II was the best computer, and that’s why he wanted both. We were best friends, though. So that helped. It was excellent because it came from my one mind. I controlled the entire environment of how that computer was built. It worked so well that very few parts did very much. Only because, I wanted a computer for me. And it had to be that beautiful.

But the Apple III failed… is it because there were too many people working on it?

Yes, if the guys at Apple had built the machine that they would love, it would have been successful. It came instead from formulas from Apple executives. Marketing people were in charge and some very bad decisions got made, in my opinion. There were hardware failures. You put out a product that has failures right away, and even if you fix it a year later, it just doesn’t sell. It’s the same thing with any smartphone today. It comes out and it has something horribly wrong about it. You can fix everything wrong about it, and it still won’t sell. It has missed its window of opportunity.

At the same time Woz praises Jobs for his involvement in the Apple II, he criticizes the Apple III for its design by committee. I wonder what the breaking point is between having the right people involved, and having too many people?