In this great documentary series, Jack Turner shows us the surprising depth of knowledge the ancient civilizations held.
Personal, honest, funny, touching, inspirational.
My contention is that app time will impact many of these incumbent media and that both the effect and the consequences will be hard to measure in advance or even ex post facto. These new media objects are not measured easily and therefore are flying under the radar of traditional metrics used by the industry. Such absence of reliable measurement is one of the hallmarks of a disruptive shift in industry: You can’t perceive what you can’t measure and you certainly can’t manage it.
I believe the logic for Apple is that usage of the products determines their value and therefore placing powerful software in the hands of more users means they will value the entire system more. This leads to the notion of greater “stickiness” or “lock-in” but also to higher satisfaction and loyalty, rate of upgrades and even more third party purchases and yet more usage.
This is the virtuous cycle platform custodians seek to engender. This is what Apple is trying to build and the transition of apps into the system bundle is part of this re-enforcement.
One wonders how long before Apple’s approach becomes the norm for other platforms.
Jakob Nielsen publishes an Alertbox:
People can use computer systems for years without knowing about features that would be very useful to them. This is true even for productivity applications that people rely on for their livelihood, such as email, word processing, and spreadsheets. In testing intranets, we frequently find that employees are unaware of key enterprise features.
This seems like a paradox, because users would gain substantial benefits — potentially accrued over several years — if only they bothered to spend a few moments looking around the user interface. The ROI seems clear.
However, while users might have a mathematically true ROI from learning more about user interfaces, the ROI might not be so clear from a behavioral standpoint. The problem is that the investment occurs immediately: users must suffer the interaction cost of navigating through obscure parts of the user interface. In contrast, the benefit is deferred: users realize it only in small increments in some undefined future moments when they might use newly discovered features.
And then he provides tips on how to encourage learing. First among them: Fewer features.
Well worth a read. To quote:
With the iPhone 5C Apple may well have created what will prove to be the most popular smartphone in the world, based almost entirely on year-old technology, distinguished only by its colorful plastic casing — yet still sold at premium prices compared to the rest of the industry. Not bad.
And this about 5S:
To put that in context, the iPhone 5S beats my 2008 15-inch MacBook Pro by a small measure in the Sunspider benchmark (with the MacBook Pro running the latest Safari 6.1 beta). The iPhone 5S is, in some measures, computationally superior to the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro from just five years ago. In your fucking pocket.
Thomas R. Eisenmann answering the question what is entrepreneurship:
[…] entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled.
The article goes much deeper, of course.
Horace Dediu thinking about the Apple’s M7 chip:
Perhaps this is why Apple chose to describe the iPhone 5s as “forward-thinking”. The M7 and the Touch ID are like research projects whose actual value will be realized at some future time, in probably different contexts. The M series of chips may become Apple’s “low end” microprocessor as the A series climbs the trajectory into core computing tasks (read: phone, tablets, TV, laptops).
M might be the chip for the wearable segment, woven into a whole new fabric of uses and jobs to be done.
The 5C is, effectively, an iPhone 5. Same A6, same camera, same just about everything — except for the most obvious difference, its array of colorful plastic shells.
In marketing, what looks new is new.
This is the first year when last year’s specs remain good enough to serve as the mass market new iPhone. Take a look at apple.com today and note which new iPhone appears first: the 5C, not the 5S. Which phone did they show a commercial for during the event? The 5C.
In summary I’d say that the C signals the beginning of the “good enough” phase which was also evidenced by the increasing mix of the older models during the last year. Financially it shows up as lower ASP, which, as the graph above implies, I expect to drop to $600 and lower during the next year. Margins may not be affected much as the C is still very highly priced relative to its cost of production.
Finally, if the good enough alternative is being “pinned” by Apple as the mid-range it also begs the question of why there isn’t a specific “low end” version. It took six years for Apple to fork the product into two variants. Maybe it will take another year for it to stretch to a third.
As I wrote last week, strategy is about making choices, and Apple has decided to not even pretend to pursue market share, but instead embrace their up-market status. As long as they retain their app advantage, this will obviously be a profitable choice.
More importantly, it’s Apple doubling-down on what they are best at. I have railed against Blackberry and Nokia for trying to compete in areas they weren’t great at (OSs), instead of focusing on their strengths. Apple is doing just the opposite. They are avoiding a market share fight, which is ultimately about price and compromise, and are instead focusing on the experience of using their products and the advantages accrued by being fully integrated from the chipset to iTunes.
Ben Thompson writing about Microsoft acquiring Nokia nails it, I think:
I theorize that Nokia was either going to switch to Android or on the verge of going bankrupt. (I suspect the latter: part of the deal included €1.5 billion in financing available to Nokia immediately). And, had Nokia abandoned Windows Phone, then Windows Phone would be dead.
Limiting design choices to things that can scale infinitely at near-zero cost is a recipe for making mediocre products.
He has a bunch of good points there. Your situation will probably be different but it makes sense to try to look at the points he makes from your perspective.
Kathy Sierra writing for gapingvoid:
“The key to understanding (and ultimately benefitting from) true “customer loyalty” is to recognize and respect that customers–as people – are deeply loyal to themselves and those they love, but not to products and brands. They are loyal to their own values and the (relatively few) people and causes they truly believe in. What looks and feels like loyalty to a product, brand, company, etc. is driven by what that product, service, brand says about who we are and what we value.”
Love how he starts his “bicycle for our mind” schtik again to tell it better. Marketer through and through.
I find it fascinating that almost 25 years later we are still in the process of integrating computers to our lives and business and that’s even when the right vision was there. Some things just take time because people have to change their thinking and that’s most effectively done by generation change. Also, the vision has far deeper implications than we thought.
The interviewer is woefully unprepared unfortunately. I am surprised Steve put up with him for so long. Well, he was in the wilderness back then.
Ryan Singer sums it up nicely. Some points I particularly liked:
The reason I am making a product is to give people capability they lack. That’s why they pay for it. The gap between the person’s current situation and the situation they want to be in defines value for them. They hire your product to do a job. The job is their definition of progress from here to there.
Some people think patterns are formal things written in a book or collection, but they aren’t like that. They are natural and spontaneous just like spoken language. We learn a language by hearing it and speaking it. Words, phrases, and constructions come to mind as if by magic.
This works against you when your work isn’t goal-directed. R&D projects and exploratory design don’t benefit from narrow problem definition. Platform and infrastructure projects are different in kind from product projects because the platform is meant to enable products on top of it, which are themselves targeted at specific situations.
But in reality – and this touches on many of the themes of this blog – an overt focus on product similarities misses many crucial factors that, in my opinion, make iPhones and iPads very different. In fact, I believe the business we should be looking at to understand where Apple might take the iPad is the iPod, not the iPhone.
If you are interested in business thinking at all, read it.
Another great post by Ben Thompson over at stratēchery:
Steve Ballmer restructured Microsoft yesterday as a functional organization. The immensity of this change can not be understated, nor can the risks. Ultimately, I believe the reorganization will paralyze the company and hasten its decline.