Facebook is the new Google – as in, they are building up an army of the best damn software developers on the planet. But having great engineers is not enough. Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have each had a monopoly on great engineers for a period of time. But engineers want to solve hard problems – to build abstractions – to unify 3 different things that seem kinda similar. But this has nothing to do with solving real user problems, which is what Apple excels at.
I think another way to put this is that the traditional Silicon Valley recruiting arms race focuses on the wrong problem: it treats engineering talent as the pearl of great price, when in fact it’s actually taste. After a certain point, stockpiling “rockstar” engineers doesn’t help anymore, and in fact it can actually hurt by focusing the company’s priorities through an engineering, rather than product design, lens. Unfortunately, buying engineering talent is straightforward, while buying taste is almost impossible—as I’ve heard Adam Lisagor say, “taste is the most expensive thing there is.”