Apple’s Iteration

Prepare for recursion.

I just read a post by John Gruber about the iPad 2. What interested me was not the iPad 2 but the reference Gruber made to an old Macworld article called This is how Apple rolls.

In particular he referred to a couple paragraphs I think are very insightful:

This is how the designers and engineers at Apple roll: They roll.

They take something small, simple, and painstakingly well considered. They ruthlessly cut features to derive the absolute minimum core product they can start with. They polish those features to a shiny intensity. At an anticipated media event, Apple reveals this core product as its Next Big Thing, and explains — no, wait, it simply shows — how painstakingly thoughtful and well designed this core product is. The company releases the product for sale.

Then everyone goes back to Cupertino and rolls. As in, they start with a few tightly packed snowballs and then roll them in more snow to pick up mass until they’ve got a snowman. That’s how Apple builds its platforms. It’s a slow and steady process of continuous iterative improvement — so slow, in fact, that the process is easy to overlook if you’re observing it in real time. Only in hindsight is it obvious just how remarkable Apple’s platform development process is.

I think that is very insightful. It seems that Apple is not moving forward but they are by perfecting things over and over.

I find myself not doing this on a regular basis. I go for the most polished, updated, best product immediately instead of shipping something instantly and then iterating it with better and better versions.

What I need to remember is that getting the product out the door is the most important thing and I can keep iterating and pushing better versions when I make them. It’s cool too because this applies to ever facet of my life.

Ship now, improve later.


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