The first sign of Apple losing its way
So it occurred to me that one sure sign of whether Apple has lost its way is if the internals are no longer designed in a meticulous and "beautiful" way.
If you've read Jobs' biography, you know he was as fanatical about the inside of his products as much as the outside, down to the layout of chips, the aesthetics of the motherboard, even the look and feel of the chips themselves.
I'd say a sure sign that Apple is beginning to lose its culture is if its engineers start to get sloppy with Apple products' internals. That would be the easiest place for their engineers and designers to get lazy and start slipping b/c honestly "who cares about what it looks like on the inside". Also, who will have the designer's eye to be able to even judge what looks good and doesn't for a system board? Jony? Who knows...
Will be very interesting to see what happens in this regard over the next couple years...
Here's a quote for you guys to wrap your heads around:
"I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it's inside the box. A Great carpenter isn't going to use lousy wood for the back of the cabinet, even though nobody's going to see it."
In an interview a few years later, after the Macintosh came out, Jobs reiterated that lesson from his father:
"When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You'll know it's there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through."
So this philosophy isn't a byproduct of anything, in fact it was the core to Jobs' beliefs about the company and its products.