August 15, 2013 What is This Menu For?

Do you know what made Apple great?

Steve Jobs.

Do you know how Steve Jobs made Apple great?


When deciding between features and experience, Steve always choose experience first.

Here is an anecdote from Glenn Reid’s blog on an interaction he had with Steve right before iPhoto 1.0. was about to ship.

Steve was going through the menus one final time before we shipped it, and he stopped on this submenu. The conversation went something like this:

Steve: “What is this menu for?”

Glenn: “So you can sort your photos by different things.”

Steve [looking through them]: “They are sorted by Date by default, right?”

Glenn: “Yes.”

Steve: “Get rid of that menu item” [Sort By Date]

Glenn: “Okay.”

Steve: “Why would you want to Sort By Caption?”

Glenn: “I can’t think of any good reason to sort by caption”

Steve: “Get rid of it.”

Glenn: “Okay.”

Steve: “Why would you want to sort by any of these other things?”

Glenn: [some lame possibilities provided]

Steve: “Get rid of the whole menu.”

Glenn: “I can do that easily, as you know, in Interface Builder — but the documentation, particularly the localized documentation, will need to be changed, too, and we don’t have enough time for that.”

Steve: [after a few moments thought]: “Fuck the French and German documentation.”

The problem with Apple today is no one is asking “what is this menu is for.”
No one is evaluating every command.
No one is saying “Fuck the French and German documentation.”

You can be sure as hell Tim Cook is not doing it.
And with both software and hardware design on his plate, Jony Ive is too busy being Jony Ive to care.
Someone needs to restrict the features.
Someone needs to limit the design.
Someone needs to set an example so that even though no one is checking every menu and every command, Apple is making the right decisions.
Steve Jobs was the restraint that made Apple great.