What I Learned from Steve Jobs' Biography

What did I learn from Steve Jobs? That building great products (such as Apple’s) comes down to being obsessive about every last detail of the entire user experience. It makes me realize why I came to work at Virtual Results. In an industry cluttered with antiquated solutions that don’t work built by people who don’t care how they make a buck, we build the best damn real estate websites on the planet and we care about giving our clients value for their money. There are enough people in this industry (and the world) delivering crap — there’s no sense being another one of those.

Jobs’ thoughts on Microsoft & Bill Gates were interesting to say the least. One concept that was discussed at length throughout the book was closed versus open systems — Apple versus Microsoft. Apple is an example of a closed system, since Apple controls the hardware, operating system, software, and user interface. Compare that to the most notable example of an open system approach, Microsoft, which controls the operating system, but nothing else. I don’t think there is any question which user experience is better. Is Apple’s more expensive? Sure. But quality costs money. Will open systems reach a broader audience? Yes. Margins are higher on closed systems, but open systems have historically made up, and surpassed, that with volume.

I used to be pretty firmly in the camp of open systems but have shifted a few notches toward closed systems after reading the Jobs biography. Don’t get me wrong, I still think open systems have a place — and it’s clear based on the volume of Android’s being purchased that many agree with me. Microsoft has proved that with Windows. But I’ve come to appreciate the power of great products — and great products require a more controlled environment. Individuals don’t know what they want, until you show it to them. The Model T, iPhone and iPad proved that. At Virtual Results, we’re not shy about telling agents and brokers we understand websites and consumer web behavior better than they do. We have millions of clicks of analytics behind what we do. Frankly, if an agent or broker thinks they can build better websites than us — they should probably go start a website design company rather than sell real estate.

Reading the book made me better understand Jim’s perfectionist nature when it comes to products. There are times where we’ll show him something, and his immediate reaction is “that’s crap” (not unlike Steve Jobs’ reaction to many early products shown to him by the Apple team). He doesn’t mean it’s literally crap, he means it can be better…and that we need to spend the time it takes to make it perfect. There are certainly tradeoffs; operating to perfection takes longer to ship and costs more money. But we believe it’s worth it.

What’s the take away from all of this? If you want the cheapest website solution on the market and/or want to spend a ton of your own time figuring out how to build a website that works? That’s your choice.

But if you want a product that just WORKS without the hassle? Contact us so we can get you up and running for 2012.

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