Ken Segall’s new book, Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drive Apple’s Success, made its debut this week, and one of the more entertaining anecdotes within details Steve Jobs’s plans to celebrate the one millionth iMac purchase.
Rather than a $10,000 iTunes Gift Card like the company usually offers up for milestone App Store downloads, Steve wanted to play Willy Wonka and provide the lucky customer with a golden ticket that would entitle them to a full refund on their iMac purchase and a personal tour around Apple’s Cupertino campus.
Steve even wanted to dress up like Wonka, Segall writes, complete with a purple suit and top hat. He even had Apple employees working to design the golden ticket:
Steve’s idea was to do a Willy Wonka with it. Just as Wonka did in the movie, Steve wanted to put a golden certificate representing the millionth iMac inside the box of one iMac, and publicize that fact. Whoever opened the lucky iMac box would be refunded the purchase price and be flown to Cupertino, where he or she (and, presumably, the accompanying family) would be taken on a tour of the Apple campus.
Steve had already instructed his internal creative group to design a prototype golden certificate, which he shared with us. But the killer was that Steve wanted to go all out on this. He wanted to meet the lucky winner in full Willy Wonka garb. Yes, complete with top hat and tails.
While Apple employees were “amused” by Steve’s plan, they weren’t too keen about seeing it put into practice. Fortunately for them, California law dictates that such competitions allow entry without requiring a purchase, which meant Apple must provide a way for people to enter without actually purchasing an iMac. The rule subsequently scuppered Steve’s plan.
While Steve was famous for being hard to work with and incredibly strict and demanding, anecdotes like this remind us that he was sometimes soft and friendly as well.