Ex-Apple CEO John Sculley Believes 'Innovation Lull' Will End, Smart Watch Likely Key Product Focus

Monday March 18, 2013 7:26 AM PDT by Ben Lovejoy
John Sculley, Apple's CEO from 1983 to 1993 and the man famously responsible for Steve Jobs leaving the company in 1985 to form NeXT, has said that although he considers Apple to be experiencing a "lull in innovation", he thinks this is an industry-wide issue and that Apple will be the first to spot the next big trend.

Steve Jobs
Interviewed in the Huffington Post
, Sculley was asked about his comments in a CNBC interview last month when he said he "wouldn't expect to see a creative leap from Apple for maybe a few years."
I don’t think that it’s because Apple has lost its ability to innovate. My guess is that it has nothing to do with Apple at all, but with the current stage of technology.

Moore’s law has been completely predictable for 40 years. You really need about a generation between each of [the] big innovations [but] there are just moments when all the stars are aligned for breakthrough products. Steve had a tremendous talent to be able to spot those ahead of everyone. The question is, who is going be the one to spot the next big trend, the alignment of stars? I’d bet my money on Jony Ive being the person to spot that.
Sculley downplayed talk of an Apple HD TV set but fueled speculation on a possible iWatch.
If [Steve Jobs] were alive today, I suspect he’d be really fascinated about what’s happening with sensors. When you look at the ability to capture all kinds of information with sensors and then customize services back to individuals, that is so Steve Jobs. That’s the kind of thing he’d have salivated over.

I think the next big area of product [innovation] is probably not around a television, as many are speculating -- actually, Apple TV is pretty good right now. I think it will be around wearable sensor-type products.
Steve Jobs hired Sculley from Pepsi in 1983, but the two clashed over management styles and priorities, Jobs focusing on future innovation and Sculley more on current product lines and profitability. A showdown between the two resulted in Jobs leaving Apple to form NeXT, which Apple acquired in 1996, bringing Jobs back into the company three years after Sculley left.

(Thanks, Arthur.)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

22 months ago
I hope it makes my wrist snappier.
Rating: 15 Votes
22 months ago
how well did apple do under him again? he can't really talk about lack of innovation.
Rating: 15 Votes
22 months ago

how well did apple do under him again? he can't really talk about lack of innovation.


No one argues that John Sculley wasn't a terrible CEO, but Apple hardly lacked innovation during his tenure. John oversaw Apple's entry into the portable market, the creation of FireWire and he championed the Newton. If you recall, Jony Ive and the iOS engineering team all went back to the Newton for development of the iPhone and iPad.

Also, Sculley's idea for the "Knowledge Navigator" (outlined in his 1987 book Odyssey) was the basis for several concepts integrated into the World Wide Web. Apple has also acknowledged that Siri development was spurred by Sculley.
Rating: 6 Votes
22 months ago

how well did apple do under him again? he can't really talk about lack of innovation.


beat me to it...
Rating: 5 Votes
22 months ago

I hope it makes my wrist snappier.


This. (http://www.pricepoint.com/images/styleImages/D_502%20NTHRF7.jpg)
Rating: 5 Votes
22 months ago

I hope it makes my wrist snappier.


Logged in just to upvote.
Rating: 5 Votes
22 months ago

You are mixing the word invention and innovation. The meaning of the word innovation requires commercial success.


You must have a different dictionary to everyone else.
Rating: 5 Votes
22 months ago
I believe this to be true. Everyone misses that feeling we all had back in 07. Including myself. But products like the iPhone don't pop up every year or 2. More like every decade or 2. Before iPhone, what was the prior "big thing"? HDTV? And look how that's been progressing. Prices have come down, TV's have gotten bigger and thinner, and we now have half baked 3D. But other then that, there hasn't been any big leap in the TV industry in a long time.
Rating: 4 Votes
22 months ago

What are you talking about? Apple had tonnes of innovations under John Sculley. Most of them flopped, but they certainly innovated a lot more than Apple has in the past couple years.


oh lawd. who else created a unibody cell as thin & light and sleek as the iphone 5 in the past couple years? who else created a tablet as thin & light w/ as much battery as the mini in the past couple years? who else created an all-in-one as thin & light as the imac? who else has a smart hybrid drive like the Fusion drive?

these things may not matter to you, but they do to millions of other customers like myself. which is why i buy them.
Rating: 4 Votes
22 months ago

I think he is wrong about companies being at a stand-still.

Google is innovating. They are working on Glass (which is an amazing glimpse at the future) as well as more projects at their X labs.

Apple could be working on a watch revolution, but we have yet to see anything yet. Time will tell.


The reason we heard about the glass and nothing from Apple is because we never hear anything from Apple until the product is almost ready to ship. Apple is secretive, Google, not so much. So, not hearing from Apple should never ever mean that they aren't cooking things up in their labs.

And basically every new product Apple came up with since the iPod has been an enormous commercial success. (Talking about physical products). So I think that speaks volumes. Which company out there can say the same for all of their products in the last 10 years? Certainly not Google.
Rating: 4 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]