I have just been at a company conference and several fans of Steve Jobs quoted more than once how we should innovate like Apple because they "don't do market research" so we don't need to do market research. This made me highly skeptical: how true is it that Apple doesn't do market research?

Here is the original quote that gets chopped down to 'We do no market research":

We do no market research. We don’t hire consultants. The only consultants I’ve ever hired in my 10 years is one firm to analyze Gateway’s retail strategy so I would not make some of the same mistakes they made [when launching Apple's retail stores]. But we never hire consultants, per se. We just want to make great products.

How accurate is the quote: "We do no market research?"

For this to make sense please make answers relevant to Jobs second tenure at the helm of Apple (post 1996).

  • 3
    I wouldn't use word "innovate" (given: goo.gl/QRwFq), rather "market". And yeah, not hard to believe that. For example iPhone users wanted bigger screen and 4G connectivity, and they got Siri instead. And they are still going to buy that product.
    – vartec
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 12:13
  • 4
    @vartec - They have done extensive market research. Unfortunately, the market was that of mind control technologies and zombification, not of consumer electronics</tinfoil>
    – user5341
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 15:12
  • Also, THIS Coding Horror post explains why Apple didn't rely on market research (of a specific type - A/B testing. Though Jeff never mentions Apple). codinghorror.com/blog/2010/07/…
    – user5341
    Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 15:49
  • Apple does in fact conduct market research. I know because I am a market researcher, and I have done market research for Apple! I think that Jobs was simply trying to make a point. Thus, the quote is not entirely true.
    – user6754
    Commented Apr 12, 2012 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


It probably depends on what he means by "market research." Almost any research a company does is related to the market they're in, in one way or another.

This article examines Apple's recent Customer Pulse initiative, and talks about how this is clearly market research.

It sounds to me like Jobs' quote is using a very narrow (and effectively completely incorrect) definition of "market research", to mean "market research done by a third party firm."

In the past, Bruce "TOG" Tognazzini, in his book TOG on Interface, discusses quite a bit of research done in the early stages of designing MacOS.

From page 133 of the book:

Our market research has always shown that people taper off their software buying...

So from Tog's perspective, Apple does (or at least as of 1992, when the book was published, "had always done") market research.

  • 1
    I think you missed the final comment in my question. Steve did not start his second stint at the top until 96/97.
    – going
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 0:58
  • You added that one minute after I provided my answer. At any rate, the final link I provide is still relevant.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 1:00
  • Sorry about that. I have now added the date to my question.
    – going
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 1:02
  • Answer updated to put the more relevant info first.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 1:05
  • 2
    I thought he meant they did not do the focus group studies. They clearly do marketing research.
    – Chad
    Commented Oct 20, 2011 at 13:18

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