Speaking at the British Business conference running in London during the 2012 Olympics, Sir Jonathan Ive -- Apple's Senior Vice President of Industrial Design -- told attendees that Apple's "goal isn't to make money." Instead, per the Daily Telegraph, he told attendees that the company's primary goal is to make great products.
Ive started with Apple in 1992 and attributes Apple's success to its "near-death" experiences in the mid-1990s. "Apple was very close to bankruptcy and to irrelevance [but] you learn a lot about life through death, and I learnt a lot about vital corporations by experiencing a non-vital corporation," said Ive.
Talking about late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Ive noted that "His observation was that the products weren't good enough and his resolve was we need to make better products. That stood in stark contrast to the previous attempts to turn the company around".
Apparently the fixation on making great products nearly resulted in the iPhone never making it to market. According to Ive, "There were multiple times when we nearly shelved the phone because there were multiple problems. I hold the phone to my ear and my ear dials a number. The challenge is that you have to develop all sorts of ear shapes, chin shapes, skin colour, hairdo... it seemed insurmountable".
Fortunately for the world and for Apple, the iPhone went on to be an amazing success, with 26 million of the devices selling in the last quarter alone.