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Japan

Computer companies fall on a spectrum of enthusiasm for manufacturing. On the left end are companies that look at manufacturing as a necessary evil, who wish they didn’t have to do it. And at the far right you have people who look at manufacturing as a competitive advantage. Clearly a lot of the Japanese companies look at themselves that way. Unfortunately a lot of American companies look at manufacturing as a necessary evil.

Steve Jobs, 1991.

I think the same philosophy that drives the product has to drive everything else if you want to have a great company. Manufacturing, for example, demands just as much thought and strategy as the product. If you don’t pay attention to your manufacturing, it will limit the kind of product you can build and engineer. Some companies view manufacturing as a necessary evil, and some view it as something more neutral. But we view it instead as a tremendous opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. I’ve thought that ever since I visited Japan in the early ’80s.

Steve Jobs, 1989

We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? So this is what we’ve chosen to do with our life. We could be sitting in a monastery somewhere in Japan.

Steve Jobs, 2008

Japan’s very interesting. Some people think it copies things. I don’t think that anymore. I think what they do is reinvent things. They will get something that’s already been invented and study it until they thoroughly understand it. In some cases, they understand it better than the original inventor. Out of that understanding, they will reinvent it in a more refined second-generation version. That strategy works only when what they’re working with isn’t changing very much, the stereo industry and the automobile industry are two examples. When the target is moving quickly, they find it very difficult, because that reinvention cycle takes a few years. As long as the definition of what a personal computer is keeps changing at the rate that it is, they will have a very hard time.

Steve Jobs, 1985