There’s a bit of backlash against Apple’s Dazzling Results going on. John Gruber of Daring Fireball does a good job refuting the “not that dazzling” thesis of Sampere, which reads in part:
Apple used to revolutionize industries, announcing record sales numbers because it had introduced a new technology, feature, or product that we had never imagined but that, when we saw it, we all instantly wanted. That Apple seems no longer present. In this instance, all Apple has done is copy a feature for its own best customers. While that’s very effective for today, it does not solve the problem of tomorrow for a company that competes on serial innovation.
I guess he’s disappointed that Apple works so hard to just improve the products it sells literally every year – so much so that you could argue that each new iPhone is truly a new product rather than just a modified version of last year’s model.
I would subscribe instead to this theory:
The problem isn’t that Apple has changed. The problem is that Apple has not changed, and their continuing success is proving that conventional disruption theory does not apply to consumer-driven markets in which outstanding design and integration (as opposed to modularity) can drive demand.
Apple is disrupting the conventional tenets of business even more than they are any particular product category in consumer electronics. There is something fascinating — in several ways unprecedented — going on with Apple right now. Rather than study it, understand it, describe it, and teach it, Sampere2 has chosen to deny that it’s happening.
I’m curious who in academia will take on the challenge of studying Apple to understand it, describe it, and teach it.
In the meantime, leave it to the bloggers to take their shots. My own impression of Apple is that they do a marvelous job of iterating with purpose and direction on their products. Not just to mimic others’ features (though they might), but to build toward a better more comprehensive user experience. Witness features like AirPlay, AirDrop, Facetime, and ApplePay. Each one introduced incrementally but as they roll out they reinforce the value of owning an Apple device. It is nice to be able to project on a TV screen using AirPlay and an Apple TV. It’s nice sharing files with others via AirDrop. We like having video calls over FaceTime with our kids and their grandparents. And now we’ll find it easier to pay with ApplePay at many of our favorite places to shop. And each feature leverages investments that Apple made in the ecosystem years before.
It’s a good move to understand how your businesses’ investments reinforce each other, and if they don’t, really take a critical eye toward those investments. There’s a lot to learn from Apple, even if you can’t hope to be Apple!