The Apple Promise To Their Customers

I don’t normally put out an article about another article I have written but for this particular one I wanted to share it. In my weekly column for the tech section of I wrote about what I am calling The Apple Promise to Their Customers. The line of thinking which I think is interesting is how Apple is now on an annual cadence for software releases on all their hardware. Each year Apple customers will get new features and new functionality. This is a powerful value proposition.

Here is the article give it a read and I would love to hear any thoughts.

Why Only Apple Can Promise A Better Experience To Customers Every Year

What I want to acknowledge is that some new features Apple brings out exist on other devices. Many can look at one single feature, like Maps for example, and point out that it is not new. I have heard this for years from heavy supporters of other platforms when Apple fans sing the praises of new features that have existed elsewhere for years.

This thinking misses the point because the fact that one single feature exists on another device is irrelevant to the customer who does not have that device. For an iPhone customer the fact that Android has had turn-by-turn navigation for years is an interesting but useless fact. The customer who bought an iPhone most likely knew those features existed on other devices but still choose the iPhone for a host of other reasons. The features and functions that led a consumer to choose an iPhone over other devices were probably less about one or two features but about the whole experience and package. This is why it is significant that Apple every year brings new features and even existing features to their customer base. A feature like turn-by-turn navigation may not have been important enough for a feature for a consumer to not buy an iPhone but now that it is there it sure is nice to have.

It is important to get beyond a feature by feature mindset. It is the combination of many features that make up the total experience with a device. Just because one device may have a feature the iPhone doesn’t, does not mean that device can stack up to the total experience of the iPhone. And some may argue the reverse and that is fine because my point is that it is less about a singular feature and more about many little features working together for the whole experience. If we want to debate devices lets do it on the grounds of the experience not the features.

Second, and I didn’t point this out in my TIME column, let’s not get stuck on mobile with this annual cadence. Apple is now on a yearly cadence with OSX to add new features and functionality to Mac hardware. This is not something we can say of other companies (and I am including service packs in this statement.) Consumers of Mac hardware (and there are a lot and growing fast) can be assured their hardware will get new features and functionality every single year. That is tough to find outside of the Apple ecosystem.

Sorry for writing an article about another article but I wanted to add some additional context.

Here is the link again to my TIME column.

Why Only Apple Can Promise A Better Experience To Customers Every Year

Apple’s Enterprise Invasion: Why Winning in Consumer Means Winning in Enterprise

There used to be a time when I would go to tech industry events, trade shows, internal company meetings, etc. and I was one of the few in the room with a Mac. I took great pride in that fact, but now the Mac is gaining everywhere. It’s in schools, hospitals, labs, construction sites, restaurants, consumers’ homes, coffee shops, and now increasingly in the enterprise.

With this observation in mind it should come as no shock that Apple blew the doors off their latest earnings and recorded all time sales of Macs. My analyst colleague, Frank Gillet at Forester, shared his research which showed that 1 in 5 Global workers now use an Apple product for work.

So what is fueling this trend?

Apple Products Cost Less to Support

When I worked at Cypress Semiconductor, I moon-lighted from time to time and helped our IT department by solving Windows problems. I prided myself on the fact that I could troubleshoot Windows with the best of them. I could navigate my way in and out of all of the different and common Windows conflicts. Then a funny thing happened. I switched to the Mac and all of a sudden troubleshooting became a thing of the past. That reality is now hitting the enterprise IT departments.

A recent survey by the Enterprise Device Alliance which surveyed IT professionals in large enterprise environments that have a mix of Macs and PCs overwhelmingly found agreement with IT managers that Macs cost less than PCs to support. IT managers noted that Macs presented higher up front acquisition costs, but also noted that the long-term benefits were worth the tradeoff.

When it came to Mac adoption in the enterprise, ease of technical support and lower total cost of ownership were among the top reasons for the switch. Number one on their list–employee preference.

Bring Your Own Device To Work

If you follow this industry even a little bit you keep hearing about the “consumer-ization of IT” or the “Bring Your Own Device” trend. Yes, both trends are real and IT managers are diligently working to allow employees to use whatever devices they want at work.

We recently interviewed SAP’s CIO Oliver Bussman. He shared with us that inside SAP they have 14,000 iPads and 8,000 iPhones deployed. That is a total of 22,000 iOS devices compared to the 20,000 Blackberries deployed to his workers. SAP, like many other companies is working to cater to their employees’ device preference. And Mr Bussman shared an interesting perspective with us. He said that he now has to pay closer attention to what is going on in the consumer market because if he doesn’t, he would not be able to stay ahead of the game. His workers use and learn how to make things like the iPad work for them at home. Then they come to him and say they want to use it in the office as well. After his visit to CES, Mr. Bussman recorded a video of his thoughts on the consumer-ization of IT and it is worth watching as he has a very important perspective on the subject.

The Right Product for the Right Job

In the construction industry they say that “every job is easier with the right tools.” Perhaps for too long, due to the Windows monopoly on most businesses, IT managers have been forced to have workers use the same tool to get a multitude of jobs done. But now devices like the iPhone and iPad in particular are proving more effective in many situations like field force and sales force automation.

During our interview Oliver Bussman also shared with us that he was able to deploy 300 iPads to his global sales team in just 4 weeks. In many enterprise solutions, the iPad, and touch computing in general, is just a better tool for the job.

IT managers need to effectively empower their workforce to be productive and equipped with the tools they need to be successful. Apple products are now becoming a critical part of the enterprise tool set.

Apple’s focus has not been the corporate IT accounts. Apple has always been a consumer product company waiting for a pure consumer market to mature. Now that the consumer market for personal electronics has matured, it appears to also be an enterprise strategy. Demand for Apple products is at an all-time high with consumers and their latest earnings prove this. What no one really could have predicted was that to win in enterprise you had to also win in consumer. It seems logical, but hindsight is 20/20. That reality is now fueling growth in Apple’s favor from every corner of the technology sector. The scary thing for Apple competitors is that they are just getting started.