In 1996, a year before returning to Apple, Fortune interviewed Steve Jobs. When asked what he would do to save Apple he explained:
If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth — and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago.
At that time, this quote was like a dagger in my heart. At the time Apple was flailing. Windows was rocking and the drumbeat of the end was getting louder. To hear the creator of the Mac declaring the war lost was heart breaking. I chalked it up to an off-the-cuff, spoiled-grape quotation.
Later, after Steve came back to Apple I began to feel vindicated in my opinion. Steve didn’t act like he was “milking the Macintosh.” In no way could I see his actions as just “milking the Mac.” Check out this video of Steve at the 1997 MacWorld. I see no indication of the hopelessness that the PC wars were over (Steve enters at 5:30):
So from the moment Steve re-enters the PC picture, he restokes the PC wars. He introduces the iMac. He successfully recreates the NeXT operating system as OS X. And, though he had phenomenal success growing Apple’s computer business, none of that really fits the bill of The Next Insanely Great Thing.