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Quick article excerpt for the day…on Apple’s business strategy and software leadership.

Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07
Image via Wikipedia

There are many useful business strategies for companies, and many of these are executed successfully up to the point of a crisis, at which point the companies must re-invent themselves or die.  It seems to me that most hardware vendors (RIM, Motorola, Scientific Atlanta) are caught in a ‘how do we race to the bottom on price and still preserve our margins?’.

This article (Steve Jobs Speaks Candidly About the State of Apple and Its Competitors.) suggests that Apple does it differently.  There are many interesting points, but this one struck me as being especially important, both in illuminating Apple’s strategy, and in highlighting how real strategies must be explicit, not implicit, and sometimes reinventing the company strategy is the most critical thing that an executive can do.

“Because Apple looks at things from a software-driven standpoint first and then works to iterate and make the product better while keeping the price the same (or lowering the price), as it did with the iPod, the company doesn’t look at its line and make decisions based on features in order to lower the price, expecting the software to magically perform.”

In my opinion, Software requires real investment, process, and sustainability.  As a software leader, I guide the software team to make our work a key feature of what the company is offering to the customer, not an afterthought.  Apple clearly gets it.  Microsoft gets it (finally?); see Windows 7.

RIM *could*, if they make the Blackberry a great platform for developers, and see their own software on it as being pivotal.  RIM still has best-in-class email and instant messaging, and Outlook integration, but these advantages are starting to erode.  There is still time for RIM to awaken, but the clock is ticking…

Thanks again for reading,

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Saving paper, saving time through PDF

I imagine that you’ve thought about trying to reduce the amount of paper you handle.

A good place to start is reducing the amount of paper you generate.

A GREAT place to start that is to quit printing documents for reference, just keep them on your computer.

Saving output to PDF is a great place to start, and you can do it for free. PDF isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough for capturing page images, so it’s a great substitute for paper.

On the Mac (OS X only): print your document, and use the PDF link to save a copy.
(Yes, “It just works.”)

On Windows, install CutePDF and use the virtual printer that it creates to save your output to PDF.

In both cases, be sure to check that the information you wanted is in the printout!

If you want to REDUCE the paper you print, but need a few reference pages:

On Mac (OS X): print your document, and use the Preview link to send the PDF to the Preview application. Print the just the pages you need.

On Windows: use the page preview menu item (if supported in the application), and print just the pages you need. If page preview is NOT supported, create a PDF (see above) and print just the pages you need.

Unfortunately, PDF isn’t the greatest format for archiving, but it’s a good step in the right direction.