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Sep 21

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Stage Two, UI/UX

The Real Secret of Apple’s Product Philosophy

CNET has a great article up that details the secrets of Apple’s customer service. Erica Ogg highlights the recent findings of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, a sort of Michelin guide for customer service and appreciation. Apple not only earned its highest score to date in this survey, it established a monster lead over other PC makers.

The real story is how much further ahead of its peers Apple is in this [survey].The Mac maker’s nine-point lead is now the largest lead any company has over its competition in any of the 45 categories that the ACSI study surveys–including home appliances, gas stations, autos, e-commerce, airlines, and more.

The real secret to Apple’s success is that there are no secrets.

Apple is dominating its competition in customer service because the company cares about creating a quality customer experience at every brand touchpoint. And they do this for a reason – it’s called “profit”.  Apple has built an immensely successful business model around the depth of caring about product experience, and it’s translating all the way from customer sentiment to Wall Street.  From corporate leadership and the vision of Steve Jobs to customized retail environments showcasing flawless product design, Apple is invested in delivering amazing experiences to their customers.

We often hear that Apple “plays the game” better than Sony, HP, Dell, etc – that’s not quite right. Apple is playing an entirely different game. What’s most amazing about this?  Nobody else seems to want to play with them, they just keep playing the “other” game, and poorly.

Apple is committed to creating fun, functional products that perform flawlessly for consumers. The iPhone changed the way people engaged telephony and internet everyday. iPad introduced tablet computing to the masses. From their take on music to a rock solid operating system, every product design choice Apple makes is governed by simplicity, ease of use and functionality. Apple deliberately kept the user experience in mind at every stage of product development and has benefited greatly from it.

The other guys?  They either license existing devices from miscellaneous unnamed overseas manufacturers, or “innovate” through tiny incremental feature design – aka copy others.  They certainly talk a good game about product experience, but it’s not even in the picture at anywhere near the same level.  And we don’t understand why.  It’s easy to see how they all got here, but surprising to see them not trying to change, especially if you bring the dollars into it.

The Cupertino company’s market cap is through the roof. They make boatloads of money on hardware, software, apps, services, content, etc.  The company has built a following of brand evangelists and is attracting consumer goodwill by the truckload. People love the Apple experience so much that they are willing to forgive recent mis-steps by the Mac maker. From antenna-gate to a camera-free iPad, to a little bit of Chinese child labor, consumers are choosing to remain with Apple (or wait around hoping for them to come their way).

The investment that Apple made several years ago in superlative product design and user experience has resulted in not only brand loyalty but brand growth. At Stage Two, we help companies of all sizes create exceptional user experiences and polished products, because we believe this is an investment utterly worth making.  It’s a tough thing for any internal product or engineering team to face – the thought of an external group nitpicking apart their gem, but it’s worth it.  While there’s certainly religion at Apple, the religion is about the product being exceptional, and that’s the right kind of focus any consumer-facing product company should have as well.

UPDATE: We want to thank everyone for contributing to the discussion here. Special props go out to Cult of Mac for publishing our post to their audience!

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50 Responses to “The Real Secret of Apple’s Product Philosophy”

  1. Nick P. 22 September 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Even if they wanted to copy Apple, most large corporations are structured to avoid the concentration of power and *good taste*. Steve Jobs can tell you what to build and write because he knows he has impeccable taste.

    In my experience as a software consultant, most software and hardware CEOs have no taste for good products and rely on somebody else to show them the way. Their skill is in running a company like a machine, while Steve Jobs sees Apple’s products as works of arts.

  2. Andrew Wood 22 September 2010 at 10:15 am #

    Perfectly written. What I don’t understand is why other PC makers can’t seem to “get it”. Is it really that hard to understand that if you make quality products then people will return for more?

    When it comes to the satisfaction numbers you mentioned it makes me chuckle. The reason I chuckle is because how would those numbers change if Windows PC users tried a Mac for a month? Would their PC “satisfaction” rating change?

  3. Dawes 22 September 2010 at 10:22 am #

    “They certainly talk a good game about product experience, but it’s not even in the picture at anywhere near the same level. And we don’t understand why.”

    It’s because they don’t control the main interface to their customer, the OS. Why spend time and money making beautiful devices if it all looks and works the same to the end user?

  4. Martin 22 September 2010 at 10:38 am #

    Good post. People focus way too much on Apple’s hardware design and the behavior of Apple customers and not enough on Apple’s retail efforts. Most of Apple’s best work have been in the retail experience:

    1) Apple Stores are among the highest sales per square foot retail operations anywhere. Location, customer experience are all part of this, but anyone who has visited a store a 9PM can see clearly enough that Apple has invested most in *people*. You go into the store and there are actual people to help you. Amazingly, that’s now innovative – not cutting your sales staff to boost profits.

    2) Apple figured out how to sell things online for $1 *and make money all around*. Apple at least breaks even on those sales, and the originator of that content (studios, developers, etc.) all make money – and good money – on $1 purchases. And Apple made it incredibly, stupendously easy to make that purchase. No 5 minute investment to make a $.99 purchase – Click buy, confirm, use what you bought. Apple did this first and did it best and was smart enough to integrate the experience into software outside of the web browser so you could do it where it made the most sense.

    As for their profitability, Motorola makes and sells roughly 100 different phone models right now. Different form factors, different operating systems, for different carriers. All 100 had to be designed, prototyped, manufacturing set up, inventory managed, and so on. Apple makes and sells 2 different phone models right now. Only one is new for this year (leaving out the white iPhone 4 not yet selling, which is a minor variation). One design. One manufacturing setup. Everyone gets the same thing. Economies of scale are incredibly in Apple’s favor. They’ll probably sell 50 million iPhone 4s before they kill off the model completely. Nobody else is that bold, that willing to go to a single design and sell it to every market – corporate/individual/teenagers, US/Europe/Asia, AT&T/China Unicom, etc.

    It’s just stunning how timid Apple’s competitors are. It’s not a question of design and marketing, it’s a lack of courage to make fundamental business decisions that might lead to profits. They’re trapped in their own marginally successful business models.

  5. Chintan 22 September 2010 at 10:47 am #

    A brilliant analysis!

    I agree with the point that there is “religion” at Apple. A religion which transcends from the top of the management to the employees who are equally passionate about creating exceptional products and staying ahead of the game “in the process”.

  6. Walter Davis 22 September 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Volkswagen used to do this — you could have a Beetle OR a Karmann Ghia, in one of 8 colors, sold by a dealer who trained in Germany for quite a while, advertised by the very best agencies of the Mad Men age. And people would flash their headlights when they’d “meet” another Beetle on the road. Talk about brand ambassadors and loyalty. They still inspire a bit of that (I’m on my third Jetta) but now they’ve spread out a bit and are a little muddled in their branding.

  7. MadDog 22 September 2010 at 11:02 am #

    “Is it really that hard to understand that if you make quality products then people will return for more?”

    I think plenty of them understand the need for it (although not all of them, amazingly) but they don’t understand how to make it happen.

  8. Tod 22 September 2010 at 11:12 am #

    I linked here from John Gruber’s blog and an gald to have done so. You’ve got a very interesting take on things.

    I would like to mention one thing, though, and that’s the enterprise market where Dell and HP seem to dominate the desktop scene. These enterprise CIOs don’t need to go to an Apple Store, the sales reps come to them pitching their wares and giving them deals that Apple would never dream of giving. Thus the complete domination of enterprise with lackluster dull PCs. Does the group that conducts the Michigan survey actually survey individuals whose choice of computer does not include Apple? I just wonder how the survey results would look if the survey included enterprise users. What’s their satisfaction level? Could be great on the one hand, if their IT department fixes thing fast, or OTOH they could be really dissatisfied.

  9. Jim H 22 September 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    You’re so right about it not being a secret. But imagine trying to run Microsoft like Jobs runs Apple. I’d give anyone trying to change the culture at Microsoft, or any other major corporation, about 6 months before the company ate them alive and spat them out. Other companies live by unit sales and market share. They don’t start from the basic questions: what would deliver the best experience to the customer? What’s wrong with tablets? How do we look at the music industry? They look at what the pioneers are doing, in these years Apple, and they copy it. They throw in a few poorly-integrated technical features for their clientele.

    A phrase that Jobs uses is that Apple stands at the intersection of the Arts and Technology. I like that a great deal, and I think that explains the most about what they do. The fans of Android, typically, denigrate this as “marketing,” because that’s how American business deals with anything.

  10. Ryan 22 September 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Martin you’re right about Apple understanding the retail *experience*, they pay attention to every detail at every level. Just look at the packaging, I’ve never seen anything like that from other companies. They’re obsessive and it works.

  11. Higgins 22 September 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    Andrew, the reason other PC makers don’t “get it” is because, frankly, they’re run by people with no imagination.

  12. Dainius Blynas 22 September 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    I think, I understand why other computer makers are failing. The problem is not ideas, they know very well, how and why apple is superior. The problem is execution, it’s not easy to make anything on a large scale, even toothpaste, but making good computing devices is f**ng hard, it takes time, very hard effort, concentration and hell of a good managers. It ain’t easy.

  13. Renaud 22 September 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    Which game device kicked everyone’s rear the last several years for sales and profit? Nintendo. Why? They made the Apple risk and played a different game (literally & figuratively) than Sony & Microsoft by investing in a new gaming paradigm. It is now over 2 years later when Microsoft & Sony are trying to compete.

    Great article.

  14. Kirsten 22 September 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Its a total brand integration success. From a launch that draws as much attention as a sporting event, to the actual act of buying in a retail store, and watching one of the message-clad employees slide a credit card through his iPhone for payment – its a branding exercise from top to bottom.

  15. Andrew Kippen 22 September 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    I see this all the time where the marketing team tells the design team how something should look instead of delivering requirements for what it should accomplish/communicate.

    Too often designers and team members who could craft elegant experiences are marginalized by marketers and business people who think they know best.

    American Airlines’ response to Dustin Curtis’ critique of their home page provides great insight into how this happens at companies where too many people with no taste have a final say in what gets designed. (Read about it at : http://dustincurtis.com/dear_american_airlines.html)

    Products are only as well-designed as the taste of their most important stake-holder.

  16. Jon Wright 22 September 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    Great article and pretty much sums it up.

    “The company has built a following of brand evangelists and is attracting consumer goodwill by the truckload”

    You can add me to that list. It’s ridiculous the way i go on at friends about Apple but i can’t help it. No other brand or product has that effect on me.

    And…you can also see that brand loyalty in people who are buying Apple products for the first time.

    Talk about brainwashing.

  17. Frank 22 September 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    This is applicable to any industry not just PCs or hi-tech. Amazon comes close to this, with its attention to details on its core business processes. USAA also, for those lucky enough to be eligible (and everyone is eligible for the banking side). Can you think of some in other industries?

  18. Thomas 22 September 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    I work at a large consumer website, where there’s a genuine intention to try to make the customer experience great and even beautiful. There are reasonably talented people working on this goal from the design, development, and marketing sides; the company is generally incredibly successful.

    However I would say: we will never succeed at anything close to Apple’s level, for the same reason I think most other companies wont: people that matter either don’t *actually believe* that Apple’s success is due to product beauty or user experience quality, or else they literally cannot *see* it.

    The “non-believers” simply have no way of accounting for “beauty” or taste or what have you, and so it’s a quality that seems almost mystical or accidental. Almost like they think Apple got “lucky” by making a beautiful phone.

    But much worse are the people who are blind to beauty. They are stakeholders in major decisions who are not themselves interested in the qualities of great software or hardware. They might drive fancy cars, but in general don’t seek out or can’t identify much that’s beautiful in the world. They are not moved by a pretty sunset, so to speak. At best, they’re the kind of person who can’t see the that details matter (like build tolerances for a hardware casing), at worst they are incapable of considering that kind of information.

    Often these beliefs are a byproduct of the macho corporate asshole character, who sees an interest in beauty as weak or emasculating–the classic example is John Dvorak’s dismissal of the first Apple iBooks as computers that “no real man” would ever carry. When you see features or designs characterized as “cute” in the tech industry, it’s often code for “not for real, manly, tough users of computers.”

    In a sense, the “game” Apple plays is to believe in culture first, and technology second. This lets them play at a level where some specific demographics are an irrelevant minority: the corporate men too busy shipping boxcars of SKUs to vendor chains for “beauty” and “usability”, or the Valley tech reviewers.

  19. Mike Puglielli 22 September 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    I agree on alot of points made here, but you’re giving too much credit to Jobs and Apple. What you fail to see is also how unfair Apple is to their fan base. The most common examples:

    Apple releases a new iphone year over year. This is completely unfair to the customers who invested in the current model. Why do they have to make a 3G then a 3GS? Just skip the 3GS year and go straight to the 4. But this is how they create cash. You buy more than once for the same (or very similar product). But this is a disservice to Apple loyals. The announcement of the next phone is not officially announced and so you’re SOL if you bought your iPhone 2 months before that year’s phone is released.

    Apple releases products, such as Macs without announcing their dates. This is done to get you to buy now and hopefully buy later to “upgrade” since their products aren’t readily upgradable (convenient). This model ensures that customers continue to buy because they want to stay on Top – certainly Job’s has figured out how to make you pay the price to be on top.

    This business model is unfortunate but its a big money maker for the company. Yes, I love my iPhone 4 and MBP, but no one said I had to love Apple as well.

  20. Mark 22 September 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    Apple knows who their customer is.
    With most companies they don’t consider me their customer. They consider me a consumer at the end of a big long chain of other consumers, and only the first of those is considered their customer. Since their ‘customer’ doesn’t actually use the product, but just resells it what do they care if it’s designed right?

  21. PXLated 22 September 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    Good post.
    What the others lack is not necessarily Steve Jobs but anyone with a right brain lobe (liberal arts). They’re all analytical (left brain) business types. You combine oversized left & right brain activity like Apple, you’re different.

  22. r00fus 22 September 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Dawes said:
    >What I don’t understand is why other PC makers can’t seem to “get it”. Is it really that hard to understand that if you make quality products then people will return for more?

    The fact that the PC industry has been thoroughly corrupted by Intel’s payola for at least the past decade is pretty revealing for me:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2010/07/dells-shame-intel-payola-propped-up-companys-earnings-sec-says/60447/

    Intel gave out huge sums of money over the past decade to Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer… pretty much every PC manufacturer.

    From the article:
    “And it claims that, at their peak, the exclusivity payments from Intel represented 76% of Dell’s quarterly operating income, which is a breathtaking figure.”

    The biggest thing that Dell, HP, etc were competing for is more of that Intel pork… do you think innovation fit in at all there?

  23. RBL 22 September 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    They make products that “performa flawlessly” for consumers? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ahhh, good one!

  24. Mark Newton 22 September 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Just to round out Martin’s comment – Apple’s approach of selling just one model of phone (with choice of color and storage capacity) is an extension of their customer satisfaction ethic. Each year, Jobs adds the features he thinks will satisfy his customers, then he produces one phone that has all those features.

    As Martin says, Motorola makes and sells roughly 100 different phone models. Incredibly, the reason they do this is to confuse their customers and keep them unhappy. They spend a fortune purposely spreading features across a multitude of devices In order that:
    A) their customers will be forced to pay more for the model they think has most features.
    B) but after the sale, the customer will discover there are features they missed out on – and they will already start to desire an upgrade to get those features.

  25. jag 22 September 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    “[Other companies] certainly talk a good game about product experience, but it’s not even in the picture at anywhere near the same level. And we don’t understand why.”

    Because when one deals in a commodity business, everything looks like an expense.

    That’s also a benefit of Apple having their own OS. When someone comes in to an Apple Store to learn about an OS X or iOS feature, there’s no question about whose product to which that knowledge will apply.

  26. Al Evange 22 September 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    Apple products are for the elite, most products are not affordable (expensive!)

  27. Fuquay71 22 September 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    Notice how apple controls the entire technology stack for their products. They can control all the fine details when they control all the pieces. To achieve the level of design that apple does, other OEMs rely on all the other OEMS (google, microsoft, intel, samsung, qualcomm, etc) to work together in harmony (which they don’t). No matter how sucessfull Android is (and it will be successful), it will never match the elegance and fine detail of Apple products due to the fact that no one manufacturer oversees the design of the entire technology platform. Apple does this, and it does it very well.

  28. David Sternlight 22 September 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    One of the smartest things Apple did, at the start of the Mac, was publish mandatory “User interface guidelines”. These human factors standards were the key to everything working the same from a use point of view, and is one of the reasons an Apple mantra is “when all else fails, read the manual”. In fact most applications don’t come with manuals, or have them on line or on disk since they are so seldom referred to.

    Why Microsoft missed this boat, I’ll never understand.

  29. Brian 22 September 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    I am a diehard Apple enthusiast and feel apple has gone above and beyond all others in every way! I will continue to purchase the Iphone especially, which has been an excellent product! Keep it up Apple, so far a customer for life!

  30. Greg 22 September 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    The attitude I notice the most from companies generally is that a product is “good enough”. And whatever the product, it IS good enough, from many perspectives. It does useful things, with a small amount of effort users can work out how to use it.

    When I suggest a way of making it work easier people generally look at me like I have 2 heads – either they think it’s a waste of time, or try to explain to me how to use it and why that’s already very easy. It’s easy to get recognition for a good training manual or better business processes – but the underlying ease-of-use concept doesn’t fit with the culture of most companies (even though they swear it’s important to them!).

    So, well done Apple. Not just on the ease-of-use, but making the whole experience of being an Apple customer “easy”.

  31. Pierre 22 September 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    Steve Jobs explained it very well in that quote about Microsoft which also applies to the rest of the competition: “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.”

    All the products have function but Apple products also come with good taste, art and culture. They’re more human. Not droid.

  32. David Chu 23 September 2010 at 12:37 am #

    I don’t think it’s that the competition doesn’t want to but that they have too many structural obstacles to overcome.

    Being an integrated company, Apple has far more control over every aspect of their products. The most remarkable thing is that Apple has been able to take industries that were thought to be commoditized (smartphones and PCs) and reinvigorate innovation.

    Its competition would like to do the same thing but there are too many chefs in the kitchen. Too many people battling for their best interests. Microsoft can’t build it’s own hardware because it would hurt its relationship with OEMs. OEMs can’t introduce new features until Microsoft has released the APIs. Handset manufacturers can’t get certain Android features on their phone until the carriers approve it.

    I recommend reading Porter’s “Five Forces of Strategy” for more information.

  33. All The Buttons 23 September 2010 at 12:38 am #

    Apple are almost unique in the consumer technology world in that they focus on the consumer, not the technology.

  34. Steve Johnson 23 September 2010 at 9:03 am #

    Nick makes a good point. Most companies want the benefits of Apple’s success without the hard work that precedes it.

    The best competitive strategy is to ignore the competition and focus on the customer. The competitive offers are typically a fairly low bar so it’s easy to be superior.

    Wonderful article. Thanks.

  35. Jim Miller 23 September 2010 at 10:38 am #

    It is great to see the non-secret stated so clearly. And I would like to back up Nick P.’s comment about the role of the leadership’s taste and their products as works of art.

    This could mark a new phase in American manufacturing of technology for the average person, if other designers and engineers at other companies, along with the managers, can grok it. For historical precedent, they can look at the Leica, Bolex film cameras from Switzerland, Bang&Olufsen, Braun, Sony and so on. But for an American company, this is a first in any category of consumer hardware, and it is selling very well around the world, even in Germany and Japan. (Of course the head designer is English, the engineering staff is probably very international, the manufacturing is done very competently by a Taiwanese company in China, so the ‘American’ angle isn’t anything to crow about all that much. But still, Apple has shown it can originate in the U.S., a first.)

    The artfulness extends to the software, the retail stores, the customer support, the online music and app stores, and probably the whole ecosystem. Aesthetics rule, and this is what make the customer and user experience so great. It is a new way of doing business, and it can be traced back to the revolution in consciousness that underlay the creation of the original ‘insanely great’ Macintosh. Y’all know what we’re talkin about here: depth of vision.

    But also the sense of touch. There have been few contoured surfaces in my experience more sensuous than the back of the iPad. This is a very deliberate signature of a tactile aesthete — the back of the latest iMacs have the same quasi-erotic curvature of aluminium. Is this from Ive, Jobs, Mansfield? It hardly matters who exactly; it’s the art of the company, extending into the depth of the hardware. I won’t get started on the iPhone4 (the new Leica) or the machining of the inside surfaces of their aluminium chassis . . . .

  36. Elysia 23 September 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    There are some great points in this article — and in the comments. The key things I have to respond to, as a user:
    1) Apple has had the *best* customer service of anyone I’ve dealt with. Period. The people are nice in the store and nice on the phone and they *help* with problems.
    2) I’ve never been an Apple person. I’ve been building my own personal computers (starting with a Digital Rainbow about 20 years ago for college). But I got my first iPhone a little over two years ago and I’ve raved about it — now my sisters have iPhones, my friends have iPhones, my nieces have iTouches. And next time I buy a personal computer, it might be an Apple. And that’s *all* about ease of use and people who help if you need it.
    So maybe enterprise sales are to Dell or whoever, but I think as personal purchases drift more to Macs, employees are going to be asking for (and getting) more Macs at work. I see it at my own company already.

  37. jmmx 25 September 2010 at 2:34 am #

    You are right overall, but wrong in one major point. You say:

    “… the company cares about creating a quality customer experience at every brand touchpoint. And they do this for a reason – it’s called “profit”.”

    Here you sadly miss the point. I certainly would not say that Apple (and Jobs) is not interested in profit, they certainly are and continually maintain the highest profit margin in the PC HW industry.

    But this is NOT what drives them. What drives them is what you say elsewhere. They are totally focused on design that gives the best user experience possible on all levels – from the GUI to the physical design they do their best to amaze people completely. THIS is their passion.

    The money is second. A close second. But second nonetheless. Look at all the years they struggled with minuscule share, but never did they let go their vision.

    History was on the side of Microsoft for a while. Their grab of the enterprise o the coattails of IBM led to their domination. Apple was relegated to obscurity. But with the introduction of the iPod, consumers very slowly began to get the idea – something could actually work, cleanly, dependably, simply.

    But it was their dedication to the beauty of the product that has earned them all of this success – and the profits.

    And here we are. And here we go.

  38. jmmx 25 September 2010 at 2:52 am #

    @ Dainius Blynas 22 September 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    “I think, I understand why other computer makers are failing. The problem is not ideas, they know very well, how and why apple is superior. The problem is execution, it’s not easy to make anything on a large scale, even toothpaste, but making good computing devices is f**ng hard, it takes time, very hard effort, concentration and hell of a good managers. It ain’t easy.”

    Actually, the hardware part IS easy. there are lots of computer engineers who do it. The problem is, with MS Windows machines they all run the same OS, and so the only way to compete is on price and hence on costs. There are two ways to lower your costs.

    1- be more efficient – Dell really ruled here for a while (until everyone else caught on)

    2- lower your product cost. So… the engineer is now not at all interested in creating the best product but rather the cheapest costing product. So if you can use one part that is better or one that is cheaper, then you go for the cheaper. The rush to the bottom of both cost and quality.

    This was exacerbated by the fact that the user interfaced through the OS and Windows was notoriously difficult and problematic (I know, I worked on them for many years), so why bother creating a good machine when the user would be fighting the OS all the time anyway?

    IMHO

  39. Arthur P. Johnson 25 September 2010 at 7:59 am #

    Seems to me what you’re saying is — STEVE JOBS. He’s the only Fortune 100 CEO I can think of who is obsessed with taste, design and everything else that makes a great product. As a product developer myself, I know how insane and detail-driven you must appear to be in order to bring a great product to market. And I believe it must be extremely rare to find ONE MAN who combines fantastic product development chops with the business sense it takes to become a CEO. Most great product developers are only allowed to rise so far in an organization, because they are perceived as loony and impractical to Board of Directors types. Jobs was originally CEO because he founded the company — was booted out for the reason I just mentioned — and reinstated only when the company was on the brink of collapse. Maybe the also-rans should consider allowing their own best product developer to run the company?

  40. David 25 September 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    I read some comments here and shake my head. Apple is not “unfair” to their fan base by releasing new devices year over year. Most companies do that with their product lines – it’s called progress. There will *always* be something better or cheaper coming out next month, so why worry about it? Just get what you need and be happy with it. Moreover, Apple products are not for the “elite”. They may be more expensive, but their outstanding design and build quality ensures they will last longer than competing products. Cheap stuff falls apart and needs to be replaced more frequently. In the long run, it makes sense to buy Apple – you get what you pay for. But then again, I’m not one of those people who have a burning compulsion to buy a new device every six months out of some perception it became obsolete as soon as the ink dried on the blueprints.

    The Apple retail stores in my area are crowded with customers. Clearly they are doing something right.

  41. Mike O'Dell 26 September 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    as was mentioned, the back of the iPad is nothing short of genius. one of the first thing i noticed was that when you cradle an iPad in one hand to use with the other, you are holding it the same way you cradle the head of a baby. moreover, when you hold an iPad, you hold it within the boundary of your personal space, not at arm’s length like a laptop or desktop. it evokes an entirely different emotional reaction, almost subliminal, but it’s very powerful. only Art does this – it delights again and again as you come to know all the things done perfectly, any one of which could break the spell.


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