On the first day of the 7th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, the Special Session “Conversation with Steve Wozniak: The End of the PC Era and Future of the IT Industry” was held at 4 p.m. from the Grand Ballroom of the Haevichi Hotel & Resort Jeju, following a pre-session performance by K-pop singer John Park. This Special Session kicked off the three-day forum.
During the Special Session Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer Inc. and credited as designing the world’s first home computer, sat down with Suh Jong Ryeol, president of the Korea Internet and Security Agency, to discuss Apple’s success story, the future of computing, and the role of the CEO to inspire creativity.
The first question of this hour-long session that Suh asked was did Wozniak expect for the Apple computer to change the world as much as it did.
“We [Jobs and Wozniak] expected a big change,” said Wozniak. “We expected to be the best computers, the best technologies ever for people to have their own computer, that someday maybe everybody would have their own computer … We talked like that but we didn’t know what that change would actually be like in the world.”
Back when the company was created in the late 1970s Wozniak said he and Jobs expected Apple to be an important company, but due to how fast technology was changing it was impossible to judge that their little company would become one of the world’s largest.
Its success, said Wozniak, has much to do with Jobs’ management style of understanding what a good product was and about making products “that could change the world in the most positive way.”
An example of this was the iPod.
“The iPod was the real big turning point,” Wozniak said. “It plugged into a computer and loaded your music with no actions at all.”
This was created after Jobs returned to the company, but he did so with maturity and an understanding that it is about creating a great product, and it was the iPod’s simplicity that made it have a worldwide impact and transformed Apple Inc. from just producing computers into producing an array of products.
Wozniak said that if Jobs was with us today, along with showing his gratitude for all the things Jobs has created he would tell Jobs that he was “the best technologist CEO who has ever been.”
Now with Jobs’ passing, Suh posed the question what strategies does Apple need to continue its success in such a competitive market.
“Make great products,” said Wozniak. “Hire great people. Keep a lot of secrecy of the design team so they aren’t influenced by other people’s thinking and they think for themselves.”
What Apple has going for it is that it has created a “world” through building both software and hardware that is completely compatible with one another, and that products don’t function properly “if you try to work with everyone else in the world.”
“Apple’s forte is selling to people that aren't engineers .. because Steve Jobs himself was more of a normal person and he always wanted products that worked well for someone like him.”
When it came to the title of the discussion, “The End of the PC Era,” Wozniak disagreed saying that PCs have “increased its degree of dominance” but that due to the nature of the Internet and with the creation of [cloud computing] PCs are no longer in our hands but in servers.
The mobile devices we use are “windows of what’s going on in the cloud.” PCs are still being used but not necessarily by the public directly.
“But I do believe the PC era was an era when the only way you could get work done was with a PC and that’s over.”
Concerning the next innovation after the Smartphone what Wozniak says he would like is voice control so he can “just speak like I speak to a human and I ask and I get answers,” he said.
“Eventually, someday, I really want to speak in[to my iPod nano] and ask any question I want as I’m walking around … and I want to see the answers and that’s a new step that I’d like to see,” he said.
The worry for Apple right now is that they can’t become complacent with being at the head of the industry. Apple right now, said Wozniak, is what Sony was when he was growing up. Its products were sleek, beautiful, and that much better than its competition.
“Sony lost that formula and I’m worried about Apple losing it,” he said.
Something that CEOs can do to help keep their company moving forward is to remember that great profits come from great products.
“A lot of CEOs just sit back and have advisors advise them ... and don’t really test the products themselves,” he said.
On top of that a product does not have to have every feature possible, but whatever it sets out to do it must do it well.
When it comes to the CEO’s role to foster creativity Wozniak said, “Really excellent products almost always have to have one mind that is in control of every facet of that product” and for that person to care about what they are creating. And “a lot of the times the CEO don’t take that role.”
He continued that if CEOs are not willing to take on that position they have to “watch [their] backs” against their competition. They “have to have that commitment [to be innovative] and then communicate that commitment to everyone in that company.”
Also, they need to hire people who are not only innovative but who can “build” and manifest their ideas.
The room was filled with university, high school, middle school students from Jeju, and as a former educator Wozniak was asked to give advice to the pupils in the audience.
“Those were the times in my life and jobs’ life where we having the freedom to experiment with our own ideas, to write software, to build devices, to actually test and explore the world of technology … and really let us create what we eventually became,” he said.
The suggestion he gave to the students was “how far you go, my father taught me, was how well your co-workers like you. Be likeable.”
The event was followed by a Q&A session with Wozniak and an autograph signing.
The 7th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, organized by the Jeju Peace Institute and hosted and sponsored by several organizations and corporations, began at 4 p.m on May 31. with the Special Session “Conversation with Steve Wozniak: The End of the PC Era and Future of the IT Industry.” A total of 58 sessions in the categories of prosperity, environment, peace, gender, education, and one titled etc. will be conducted from May 31 to June 2 at the Haevichi Hotel & Resort Jeju, Seogwipo City.
Under the theme of "New Trends and the Future of Asia," the 7th Jeju Forum will examine political and social issues affecting the area within a historical context to encourage cooperation and community building in the region. The forum will also afford the opportunity to simultaneously gauge the political and financial climate throughout the world to better understand Asia’s position within it. As this year marks the 20th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and China, there will be several sessions dedicated to the future of this union like “Korean Unification and China,” and “20 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Korea and China - Push Forward Strategic Cooperative Partnership.”
Hundreds of incumbent and former heads of state, experts, leading businessmen, academics, and activists including former Prime Minister of Australia Paul John Keating, former Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva, Chinese People’s Political Party Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee Member Xie Bo Yang, and Apple Inc. Co-founder Steve Wozniak will be on hand for the three-day event to discuss the future of Asia.
Some of the other topics to be addressed during this three-day conference include the future of the IT Industry, new growth engines for the region, the environment, financial cooperation, welfare expansion, and others.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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