My Way or the Apple Way
Disclaimer: I am an Apple fan. Read at your own risk.
If there is any brand in the world that can polarise people it is Apple. People either love it or don’t. Whichever category you may fall into, it’s difficult to ignore it. Not only do the products keep redefining what is sleek and sexy but Apple’s quest for ultimate sophistication is what garners my continuous respect. Instantly, it reminds me of Jiro Ono, the popular sushi chef who has spent his entire life perfecting the art of making sushi (check out the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi). Sushi aside, let’s talk about a fruit.
Being witness to the mixed feedback to the greatly awaited Apple keynote address this month, I noticed that people actually don’t understand Apple and why they do what they do. Let’s set the record straight once and for all, with Steve Jobs’ help. After all, who can deny that the man had an exceptional way with words?
You: ‘Apple has stopped innovating.’
Jobs: ‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.’
Me: Making the phone thinner, faster and thinking obsessively about every element and material that goes into making the iPhone is to me INNOVATION. You just need to walk into an electronics shop and seen how many phones, computers and tablets look like the Apple product lineup – it is shocking! Design and disruptive technology have been paramount in Apple products. Once the benchmark is set, it doesn’t matter if all the other brands catch up and start imitating the breakthrough design and features.
You: ‘I am not sure what the future of Apple looks like after Steve.’
Jobs: ‘Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It clears out the old to make way for the new.’
Me: Apple is in good hands – Tim Cook is an operational genius and Jony Ive is a design mastermind. Together they have propelled Apple into Wearable Tech with the launch of the AppleWatch smart watch. Can you remember the euphoria when other companies launched their version of the smart watch? Don’t think so! If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you watch the video of the launch. Do you recall what version one of the iPod and iPad looked like? Apple will be defining the smart watch category just like they did with the portable media player and tablets….
You: ‘I would rather buy a phone with more features than the iPhone’
Jobs: ‘That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.’
Me: Let’s get this straight – Apple has never competed on features, nor are they first movers in an industry (contrary to what they teach you at business schools). They wait and watch and come and take over entire industries (think tablets and music). In fact, Apple designs products with simplicity in mind for everyday people like you and me. For them, less is more and given a chance they would remove a feature rather than add more complexity. Who would have thought that one day we would be using a phone made of glass with just one button?
You: ‘iPhone 6 has launched. It’s not different!’
Jobs: ‘Things don’t have to change the world to be important.’
Me: So, let me tell you a bit about Apple’s product philosophy. If you understand this you will come to appreciate what Apple puts out every year. They keep their product line focussed and improve them year after year, making awesome little incremental changes. Why alter an award-winning phone design and do something completely new? They have little reason to make design-altering changes when they have nailed a product i.e. the iPhone. To them, the iPhone is a way life and not just a phone. How to make the phone thinner, lighter, beautiful design, comfortable to use and streamlined is what they think about improving year on year.
‘The cover glass curves down around the sides to meet the anodised aluminium enclosure in a remarkable, simplified design. There are no distinct edges. No gaps. Just a smooth, seamless bond of metal and glass that feels like one continuous surface.’ – Apple’s description of the iPhone 6
You: ‘Why should I buy an iPhone and not any other phone?’
Jobs: ‘Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.’
Me: The iPhone 6 is an astounding device with a far superior look, finish and design. Coupled with iOS8 it’s by far the best phone we have in the market. If you have other iDevices at home then syncing between them is a breeze thanks to iCloud and Continuity. Bottom line, you get the best experience when one company controls the entire software and hardware experience.
You: ‘Apple products are so expensive.’
Me: Apple does not sacrifice quality over price. Above everything else, Apple values designing and shipping great products. They will obsess over the product until it hits the sweet spot. Do you wonder why a Mercedes Benz vehicle or an IWC watch is priced high?
Jobs: ‘Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.’
(Let’s give the man his due and the last word on the topic.)
Sahil Parikh is the author of The SaaS Edge and founder of Brightpod.com
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