It’s the winter of 1980 and I'm in my first year studying Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London. I’m at a fellow student’s freezing cold basement flat in West London. His slightly geeky roommate is working on something called an Apple II Computer in the corner of the room, and they are playing some amazing, slightly ethereal rock music on the record player perched high on a rickety shelf. “Who is this?” I ask. “Oh, it’s this new band from Ireland called U2. They’ll be in London next month; do you want to come along?” Of course I say yes, and a few weeks later I'm a few feet from the stage as Bono, the Edge, Adam and Larry launch into “I Will Follow.” Thirty four years later, I am still an avid fan of U2, so I guess I did follow.
U2 and the Apple II in 1980
An amazing thing about U2 is that after forming the band as teenagers in Dublin in 1976 (their drummer Larry was 14 when he posted a note on the school notice board looking for musicians), the same 4 members form the band today. And if you saw the movie “Jobs” recently, you will know that Apple (also formed in 1976) have had a journey a bit like a more stereotypical rock band with fall outs, reunions, failures, and successes – and although they have lost their founder, Steve Jobs, the company is of course still very much together.
You may be surprised at drawing parallels between Apple, U2 and the other Edge (Solid Edge), but staying together, building a community, and reinvention are very much part of the Solid Edge ethos. Solid Edge was launched in 1996 so has a shorter history, but several of the key people at the launch of Solid Edge like Bill McClure and Dan Staples are leaders in the organization today. And just as important, many of our customers like AESSEAL, a manufacturer of mechanical seals have been Solid Edge fans for many years. AESSEAL have expanded from a single license of Solid Edge in 1999 to 30 licenses in 4 different countries today, and you can read 3 different case studies that focus on their use of Solid Edge and NX CAM for efficient design and manufacturing of precision assemblies, using Teamcenter to help deliver on their reputation for excellent customer service and short lead times, and their focus on high quality apprenticeships to help develop the engineering expertise that is essential to the success of their business.
Precision mechanical seal designed by AESSEAL using Solid Edge
This year we delivered our 27th album – Solid Edge ST7 to great reviews. And we have reinvented ourselves along the way, for example with the change from the ACIS to the Parasolid modelling kernel in 1998 and the introduction of synchronous technology in 2008. Building a community around our employees, customers, students, and channel partners has been an important part of this journey, and something we have accelerated in the last few years. Focused events like Solid Edge University that is now touring globally, and our popular Solid Edge Community website are really helping to connect our users to each other and to Siemens.
Part of our Solid Edge album collection 1996-2014
Forward to 2014 and Apple and U2 are both still around, both doing quite well and working closely together. Apparently some people have complained about U2 giving their new album “Songs of Innocence” for free to iTunes users, and Bono has apologised for this. But it is fine with me – it’s the 16th U2 album on my iPod and my go-to music this week at the gym.
U2 and Apple iPod in 2014
It must be a dynamic balance of consistency, creativity, engagement with community, mixed with some reinvention, that gives rock bands, corporations, and even software products success over a long period of time.
So what parallels between cultural icons and products do you see in your own experience? Please let us know!