The world mourns the loss of Steve Jobs who died on Thursday.
Remarkably, I have never owned one of his products, but without doubt, many of the pieces of technology that I use daily and are the tools of my trade have been profoundly impacted by him, his designs and his passion for user experience.
He is the world's best, best known and most successful product manager. All others follow in his wake.
He was so insightful to his users and their requirements that he relied on his own intuition rather than asking what they wanted.
His great gifts were an ability to second guess the market and an eye for well designed and innovative products that everyone would buy.
"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them," he once said. "By the time you get it built, they'll want something new."(From the BBC coverage of his death)
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak will remember Mr Jobs for
"knowing what made sense in a product ..... what wasn't going to sell and what wasn't .... when to lead the market and when to follow."From a BBC interview with Steve Wozniak.
THAT is the sign of a product manager who has utterly internalised his markets and phooey customer-led design.
UPDATE: Some late night surfing uncovered this gem of an article from the NY Times describing Edwin H. Land, the genius of Polaroid Corporation and inventor of instant photography, who was Job's hero and demonstrates the value of market research for real 'break-through' innovation (to use a Clayton Christensen expression).
There was no way to do consumer research on it, so I [I = Steve Jobs] had to go and create it and then show it to people and say, ‘Now what do you think?’”
The worldview he was describing perfectly echoed Land’s: “Market research is what you do when your product isn’t any good.” And his sense of innovation: “Every significant invention,” Land once said, “must be startling, unexpected, and must come into a world that is not prepared for it. If the world were prepared for it, it would not be much of an invention.” Thirty years later, when a reporter asked Jobs how much market research Apple had done before introducing the iPad, he responded, “None. It isn’t the consumers’ job to know what they want.”