Sonar is a blog about marketing, code and coffee from Submarine.

The back of the cabinet

It's no secret that Steve Jobs had an obsessive attention to detail, particularly when it came to design.

He once left a message on a Sunday morning for Google's Vic Gundotra that said "Vic, can you call me at home? I have something urgent to discuss". When Vic called back, the urgent issue was that the second O in the Google logo in their iPhone app didn't have the right yellow gradient.

Since reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, there's always been one thing that stayed with me, and that I really admire - he always took a monumental amount of pride in the craftsmanship and quality of his products.

There was one story from Jobs' childhood that almost certainly influenced his way of thinking. His dad - Paul Jobs - was a mechanic, but he was also able to build nearly anything they needed.

It was important, his father said, to craft the backs of cabinets and fences properly, even though they were hidden. "He loved doing things right. He even cared about the look of the parts you couldn't see."

One of my favourite stories that helps to illustrate Jobs' obsessive demand for perfection involves the design for the original iPod. His engineers had worked hard to create a prototype and, on presenting it to him, he analysed it. Turning the device over in his hands, he finally announced that it was too big. The engineers protested and said that it couldn't be made any smaller, and so Jobs dropped it into a fish tank. As it sank to the bottom, bubbles started to come out. "Those are air bubbles" he said, "that means there's space in there. Make it smaller".

There are hundreds of stories of Jobs, and about his obsessive attention to design and his unrelenting demand for products to be perfect - but I really admire the intent behind why he was so obsessive.

He really cared about the quality, feel and finish of the product. He cared what the back of the cabinet looked like because he wanted to be proud of his work.

Published March, 2014

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