On June 10, 2013, during the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote, Apple unveiled two new videos: “Intention” and “Our Signature”
Two videos, but only one message.
Author’s note: All of the quotes from Apple’s videos are: “in bold text”.
“This is it.”
In those videos, Apple revealed its mission, its purpose, its essence, its raison d’etre and – perhaps – a bit of its soul.
This is the post-Steve Jobs manifesto. This is Tim Cook’s Apple. This is Apple’s new brand. This is Apple.
Something happens to companies when they get to be a few million dollars — their souls go away. And that’s the biggest thing I’ll be measured on: Were we able to grow a $10 billion company that didn’t lose its soul? ~ Steve Jobs
“This is what matters.”
“Listen up,” Apple is virtually saying to its customers, its employees, its investors, the analysts, the media, the pundits, and even to its competitors. “Listen up,” Apple is saying, “we’re telling you who we are and how we roll. This is our plan. This is our design. This is our intention. You should be paying attention.”
The Questions One Asks Inform The Answers One Receives
“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.” ~ Bertrand Russell
“The first thing we ask is:
How it makes someone feel.
The experience of a product.
Who will this help?
Will it make life better?
Does this deserve to exist?”
Wow. Just wow.
Look at the types of extraordinary questions that Apple is asking itself. Talk about Thinking Different. It takes one’s breath away.
— Do you think that Microsoft asked such questions before it foisted Windows 8 on its customers?
— Do you think that Google asked such questions before it announced the Nexus Q?
— Do you think that Dell asked such questions — about anything, ever?
— Do you think that Apple asked such questions before they announced their mapping solution last year? ((Maps was a strategic move, a business move, perhaps even a mandatory move. But Apple has paid a terrible public relations price for prioritizing their needs over the needs of their customers.))
— Does your organization – or any organization you know – ask such piercing questions?
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.
Let’s pause and take a moment to parse these questions a bit further.
“How it makes someone feel. The experience of a product.”
Ultimately, of course, design defines so much of our experience. ~ Jony Ive
This is huge. Apple doesn’t start with the specs or the features. They don’t start with corporate budgets or corporate agendas. They don’t start with what it should look like or how it fits into their current product lineup.
You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology — not the other way around. ~ Steve Jobs
Apple starts with how the product or service makes someone FEEL. That person’s EXPERIENCE with the product.
It’s not just a people first approach, it’s an emotion first approach too.
Apple doesn’t define the “job to be done” in technological terms. They define the job to be done in emotional terms — by whether their devices make their customers feel:
“Delight, surprise, love, connection”
This is the ecosystem argument. That devices are superior when they are less centered around technology and features and more centered around cohesiveness and experience.
The fallacy most make when critiquing Apple’s services is to believe that Apple needs to out-innovate competing services. The truth is, all they need to do is out-integrate them. ~ Ben Bajarin
Bill Gates once said that Steve Jobs “never really understood much about technology.” But that’s because Bill Gates wanted to believe that superior technology alway wins. He actually had it backwards. It’s not about making technology that works. It’s about making technology that works the way we do.
“The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious.” ~ Steve Jobs
“(T)he opportunity is not in designing a better “user interface” but designing a better “user experience.” ~ Damir Perge
“… we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it’s not up to par, it’s our fault, plain and simple. ~ Steve Jobs
“Who will this help? Will it make life better?”
They say that Apple understands what makes people tick; that Apple is a human-focused technology company. If Apple starts their product design by asking great questions like these, is it any wonder that this is so?
Apple’s magic is in the way it evaluates a product in order to answer the question “How would average humans like to use this?”—without actually asking average humans. … (W)hen you rely on focus groups and checklists of features, you end up with a projector phone. Or, like HP, you end up with computers that look exactly like Apple’s but lack the ease of use and thoughtful design. ~ John Moltz
Much of the difference between Microsoft and Apple — or between Apple and just about everyone else — is not the technology, but the usability. The real killer appeal of the iPod or the iPhone or the iPad is how easy they are to use, and how integral that ease of use and design is to the product itself.
I’m sure when Bill Gates looks at the iPad or the iPhone, he thinks about all the features it doesn’t have, or all the things that it can’t do. But no one else thinks about those things — all they are interested in is what they can do, and how much fun it is doing them, and how appealing those devices are. And that is one of Steve Jobs’ biggest gifts to the world of technology and design. ~ Mathew Ingram, Gigaom
Customers can’t tell you what they want, but they can most certainly tell you what dissatisfies them. It’s in the customers’ unmet needs that the real opportunities for technology lie.
“Good design makes a product understandable. It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.” ~ Dieter Rams ((“Jobs was a famous admirer of Dieter Rams, a designer for Braun who had a number of mottos and aphorisms about design — one of which was that “good design will make a product understandable.” That applies to a lot of Apple’s most famous products, which were so painstakingly designed to be usable, even when (like the original iPod shuffle) they didn’t even have a screen to tell you what was going on inside them.))
“Does this deserve to exist?”
Talk about bringing things into focus. What a brutal filter to use in order to curate what does and does not get made at Apple.
“(W)hy are we doing this in the first place?” ~ Steve Jobs
Most companies are so busy asking whether something “could” be done that they never stop to ask themselves whether something “should” be done. ((Take the Microsoft Kin, for example. (Please!) ))
“We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too.” ~ Steve Jobs
Remember the quote, above, the next time you think about the rumored low-cost iPhone (or a myriad of other rumored Apple products.) Apple doesn’t cripple their products just to achieve lower price points because Apple only makes products that they, themselves, want to use. And they don’t want to use the equivalent of a Kin, Google TV or Nook. ((To be perfectly fair, no one else wants to use a Kin, Google TV or Nook, either.))
He who wants to keep his garden tidy doesn’t reserve a plot for weeds. ~ Dag Hammarskjöld
This Is Our Design
Where does Apple start? Do they start where they are? Do they start with their current design?
“We start over”
“…Jobs was willing to completely start over with a product or service if it missed the mark. This requirement for perfection is highlighted numerous times in his biography and is rarely, if ever, followed by traditional companies when they are headed down the path of launching a new product, service or experience. ~ Eric V. Holtzclaw, Inc.
Starting over changes everything.
“When you start by imagining
What that might be like,
You step back.
It allows one to see, not what can be added to what already exists, but what can be created from all of existence. It allows one to contemplate, not just the conceivable but what was once thought to be inconceivable too. It allows one to untether from what is, and to explore what might be.
It allows one to imagine. It allows one to dream.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller
When you or I buy a sofa, we move around the contents of the room in order to make the new sofa fit in. If Apple buys a sofa – and they think that it is perfect – they are willing to re-design and re-build the entire house in order to make the house fit in with the sofa.
“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein
Starting over allows one to paint with a fresh palette.
“I dream my painting and paint my dream.” ~ Vincent van Gogh
White. A blank page or canvas. So many possibilities. ~ Stephen Sondheim
Starting over allows one to dream, and to dream big.
Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can reach. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries and predecessors; try to be better than yourself.
“We’re gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make ‘me too’ products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it’s always the next dream.” ~ Steve Jobs
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
“Designing something requires focus.”
“We tend to focus much more. People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.” ~ Steve Jobs
Divide the fire and you will soon put it out. ~ Greek Proverb
“There are a thousand ‘no’s’ for every ‘yes'”
Does Samsung ask the hard questions, make the hard decisions, or do they let their customers do the work? Do they ever say “no”, so their customers don’t have to? ((Samsung has 26 different screen sizes for its smartphones and tablets. Apple, by contrast, has four different screen sizes. Throw spaghetti against a wall model may be good for some, but it is not Apple’s model.
“Samsung has a history of confusing customers with an outpouring of phone models … (Samsung) revealed a bunch of new features for the phone like S Health, hovering over the phone, new security features, eye-tracking, two-way photography, and much more. Most, if not all, of these features were pointless.”
MOSSBERG: The Samsung Galaxy S4 Has ‘Especially Weak,’ ‘Gimmicky’ Software))
Does Microsoft say no? Or do they tell you that their tablet is really a notebook and their notebook is really a tablet. Does Windows 8 give you one operating system optimized for the form factor or do they give you two operating systems and let you sort it out? Or do they give you three separate operating systems in the Xbox One and actually brag about it?
Does Google say no with Android? Or do they give their users feature after feature after feature without thought to how each feature works with one another and whether the net benefit is outweighed by the cognitive cost?
Good design is honest. It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept. ~ Dieter Rams
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~ Leonardo DaVinci
When people talk about Apple’s design principles and philosophy, they often mention the unrelenting focus on simplicity (based in part on Rams’ motto: “Less, but better”). Jobs said that among the most important decisions in product design were what not to include and that this process involved “saying no to 1,000 things.” That’s a very difficult principle to adhere to at the best of times — but it’s especially hard if you are a technology geek and obsessed with all the ways in which your product is going to beat your competitors because of the cool features it has. That’s what causes the classic “feature creep” phenomenon, which often occurs when professional engineers get hold of a device. ~ Mathew Ingram, Gigaom
I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency… True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation. It’s about bringing order to complexity. ~ Jony Ive
“Look at the design of a lot of consumer products — they’re really complicated surfaces. We tried to make something much more holistic and simple. When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there. We believe that customers are smart, and want objects which are well thought through.” ~ Steve Jobs
Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction. ~ Albert Einstein
“It’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.” ~ Steve Jobs
Good design is as little design as possible. ~ Dieter Rams
“Good design is thorough down to the last detail. Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.” ~ Dieter Rams
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” ~ Steve Jobs
Trifles make perfections, but perfection is itself no trifle. ~ Shaker proverb
I don’t think it’s good that Apple’s perceived as different. I think it’s important that Apple’s perceived as much better. If being different is essential to doing that, then we have to do that, but if we can be much better without being different, that’d be fine with me. I want to be much better. ~ Steve Jobs
There is hardly anything in the world that some man can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. ~ John Ruskin
Design Is How It Works
“Then we begin to craft around our intention”
“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.” ~ Douglas Adams
“Until every idea we touch Enhances each life it touches.”
“Good design makes a product useful. A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.” ~ Dieter Rams
“We have always thought of design as being so much more than the way something looks. It’s the whole thing, the way something works on so many different levels.” ~ Jony Ive
“(Apple’s) ideology is design. It is a shared belief system that ‘No’ is more important than ‘Yes,’ that focus is essential to making great products, and that no one individual (not even Steve Jobs) is essential.” ~ Ben Thompson, Stratechery
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. ~ Steve Jobs
If the question is: “What job is this being asked to do?”, then Design is the guide and the pathway to the answer.
Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation… ~ Steve Jobs
What Makes Apple Different?
Do you want to know what makes Apple different? What sets them apart? How they attract the types of fans that Microsoft, Google and Samsung mock and denigrate but secretly envy and aspire to attain?
“What makes Apple come up with these great ideas while other computer makers stand around waiting for Jonathan Ive to tell them what to do next? ~ Don Reisinger
Is it Steve Jobs, Jony Ive, corporate culture, focus on quality, superior marketing, how they touch our emotions or some combination of all those things?
Is it because Apple is great at editing what’s possible, selecting options, saying no to things, and making something great by making it less, but better? ((These ideas were culled from Marco Arment, Accidental Tech Podcast, #14: Pouring Champagne onto Rap stars.))
If there was ever a product that catalyzed what’s Apple’s reason for being, it’s (the iPod). Because it combines Apple’s incredible technology base with Apple’s legendary ease of use with Apple’s awesome design… it’s like, this is what we do. So if anybody was ever wondering why is Apple on the earth, I would hold this up as a good example. ~ Steve Jobs
No. What makes Apple great is their passionate pursuit of perfection.
“Our goal is to make the best devices in the world, not to be the biggest.” ~ Steve Jobs
“For us, winning has never been about making the most. Arguably we make the best….” ~ Tim Cook
Does Apple always hit their target? Not hardly. They quite often miss their mark.
But as hard as it is to achieve perfection when one is trying, it’s virtually impossible to achieve perfection when that is not even one’s aim.
“The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at it.” ~ Mal Pancoast
At least Apple is trying. And they are passionately trying.
Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” ~ Vince Lombardi
“I think back to Detroit in the seventies, when cars were so bad. Why? The people running the companies then didn’t love cars. One of the things wrong with the PC industry today is that most of the people running the companies don’t love PCs. Does Steve Ballmer love PCs? Does Craig Barrett love PCs? Does Michael Dell love PCs? If Michael Dell wasn’t selling PCs he’d be selling something else. These people don’t love what they create. And people here do.” ~ Steve Jobs
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’re just enthusiastic about what we do. ~ Steve Jobs
Apple relishes the challenge. And they love the chase.
“You cannot kindle a fire in any other heart until it is burning in your own.”
Apple is the standard bearer of excellence. And that is why people love Apple – why they actively root for them – despite Apple’s many imperfections. People are not just rooting for Apple, they’re rooting for an ideal. They’re rooting, not just for what Apple is but, for what Apple aspires to become.
“Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny. ~ Carl Schurz
29 thoughts on “This Is It. This Is Apple. This Is Their Design.”
Its almost like Apple’s entire business plan is right there….
For a moment I thought you were talking about Jesus!
where was Apple’s perfection and simplicity when it come to, Map, Siri, iCloud, etc., these products suck.
I do not know if you do this for clicks or something, but one thing is for sure these types of preaching are the reason why people consider Apple’s user to be a group of devoted cult.
and last point
Why do you constantly feel the need to tare another company down, just to make yourself and the majority of you reader feel good about Apple and their product.
I see no reason for it
Still i admire your passion.
“Why do you constantly feel the need to tear another company down, just to make yourself and the majority of you reader feel good about Apple and their product” – Kenny
It’s hard to make a point without giving illustrations. Many, many, many people ENJOY the variety of options and features available from Android and Samsung. It’s a big selling point. However, it’s also illustrative of how different their philosophy is from that of Apple. It’s okay, nay, it’s HEALTHY to have competing businesses with competing business philosophies.
Also, Apple would, in my opinion, be better served if they followed their own playbook more faithfully. I mentioned maps being untrue to their mantra in the article but another example is Siri. They did release it as a Beta, but then they advertised it and used it to promote hardware sales. In my opinion, they violated Dieter Rams’ injunction to have design be “honest” – to not have a product promise more than it could deliver.
Ideals are like stars. You’ll never reach them, but you can use them to guide you. Companies like Apple and Google are well-loved by many (and well-hated by others) because they have ideals. Who loves Microsoft or Dell or HP? Anyone? They’ve lost their ideals and they’ve lost their souls.
When it come to philosophy, Vision, and Ideals
Google vs Apple
what do you consider to be the Biggest difference between the Two?
There are a lot of nuances to this but they have entirely different businesses. Google is an advertising company, this much is simple to understand. Many of the things they do are entirely oriented around commoditizing experiences in order to gain eyeballs for their advertising business model. In Google’s world everything hardware is best if free or cheap. That works for Google but it doesn’t work for their partners who actually need to make money on hardware. This is my feeling as to why they bought Moto. It’s a back up plan in case their hardware partners leave them or go out of business. I was watching moto closely when I wrote this http://techpinions.com/why-google-should-buy-motorola/1561 but I was convinced Moto was on their way out of business in the same way HTC is in trouble today.
Samsung is the only one making money and its because of more than Android. By owning Moto Google can create a model where they don’t necessarily need to make money on the hardware, similarly to Amazon with the Kindle.
Apple is actually a hardware company and a software company and an aspiring services company all rolled up into one. I’d argue their design and user experience centered philosophy puts their values in end user experience in a different category than Google simply because they have entirely different business models, which makes them focus on entirely different things.
Both are fine and neither is going away. In the same what that we have much competition in consumer electronics, appliances, automotive, packaged goods, etc., we will have this competition in computing.
But what gets missed in many surface level observations of companies and platforms are the business models and economics which are actually more important to understand than something like market share when predicting long term viability.
Thanks for you answer
for me, i see Apple as a truly capitalist company who cater only to those with a lot of money to spend on their device they advertised as a premium and a status symbol, that folks with an elitist mentality would love and die fo.
the majority of their loyal user tend to be a little bit arrogant with an emotional attachment more to the their brands, the story and the statu it represente than the device itself, which can be good for making a lot of money in the short term but bad when it come to reaching out to as much people as possible in the longer term.
Reading the article above
the way in which John talks about Apple, someone might think that an iPhone has brought him back from death. I do not even think he talk about his doctor that way, which for me is irrational, and make him look more like a believer than an Analyst.
Unlike Apple google have difference Vision and Philosophy
For me, Google is probably one of the best company, run by a group of engineer and scientists who believe more in solving global problems, technological advancement, and providing the best technological experience to as many people as possible than other things.
their business model and the way their introduce the product is the perfect example of that.
unlike Apple that offer the best narrow and limited experience to those with the most money and who do not have the time nor the desire to play with their device. Google tends to do the opposite by offering the best products to everyone primarily those who love to play with technology and learn to master it, which is good for some but too complicate for others.
Both have their strenght and their weakness
but I prefer google the company, for the fact that they aspire to offer the best technology experience to the entire world, rather than a small group of people with the most money to buy a very expensive premium product.
Now reading your comment.
the question we must ask ourselves is what is the best solution for the entire world?
brings the price of computer down as much as possible so that the least privilege among us can truly benefiting, or keeping the prices very High to protect some company from bankruptcy and make the most money possible.
What Say you?
I think to arrive at a viewpoint that Google is the best solution for the planet and/or the only one doing great things to advance computing is extremely limited.
Of course I agree everyone should have access to enabling technology in pocket computers, smartphones, tablets, etc., but I disagree highly that making things cheap is the only way to do so. In fact history itself greatly disagrees with this premise.
Google is important to computing but so are many others, Apple, and Microsoft included.
Cheap / commodity works in some markets but not all. Consumers are highly nuanced and value different things. Also your point about Apple only catering to the high end completely disregards their variety of products in the MP3 space all with varying degrees of price / functionality. The iPod’s evolution is a classic case of market evolution and segmentation.
I encourage you to take a much more holistic view of things like markets, economics, consumer behavior, segmentation, consumer behavior variances by region, etc., as it will help you appreciate the variances in this fascinating industry.
i do not think you understand my point or maybe we just having the wrong conversation here
First of all, it took Apple more than 6 or 7 generation iPod to make it affordable to the masses despite the competition. then if Job had his way with Google and convinced them not to create Android, giving this track record, most people with a cheap Android smartphone today would still not be able to afford an iPhone, hence i failed to see Apple as a company that really want to bring computer to as much people as possible.
there are more than 1 billion people with a cheap android smartphone in they pocket today thanks to Google. for me that’s a miracle, that many business Folk tend to forget giving that they tend to value people only by the amount of money in their pocket
i never said that Google was the best solution for the planet and/or the only one doing great things to advance computing
my question to you was pretty simple
Giving the google business model which depend more on advertising than selling hardware
do you think the world will be better of for them to brings the price of computer down as much as possible so that the least privilege among us can truly benefiting, or keeping the prices very High to protect some company from bankruptcy and make the most money possible.
That was my question
I think they both should and will exist. What you are outlining the competitive dynamics of markets. You are right Apple’s iPod price model evolved but it do so along with the maturity of the market. It trickled down. We would be fools to think the same thing does not happen over the next 5 years in other categories Apple is in. The point of competition is that consumers win and its hard to make an argument that Apple has not played a strong role across computing even if others have done it cheaper, they did so because Apple developed a market for them.
But, before we go down a path of thinking just along the lines of cheap, read this article by a friend on what Apple is doing for people with disabilities. http://the-magazine.org/9/re-enabled
Apple is bringing computing to the masses whether many realize it or not. Would the low cost tablet phenomenon have happened and added value to places like India, China, etc. had Apple not made the iPad?
Even in markets like India and China, and Africa where cost is an issue there is still an opportunity for products of value to exist. iPhone sales in China could be in the hundreds of millions over the next few years and India over the next decade will develop similarly. My point is that it is a universal fact that not every person on every continent just wants the cheapest product available. That is why, as I stated at the beginning, that both should and will always exist. They are both good for the market, competition, and for consumers.
quite the contrary
i see Apple as a truly innovative company which i would love to see doing more to the mass who really need it instead of always focusing on the High End segment while ignoring the rest.
when i am talking about bringing the price of computer down, i wasn’t talking about creating cheaper Smartphone, but rather bringing the price of High End Computer device with great Specs down.
Like selling an Iphone for 400$ rather than 700$
I see Apple as a truly innovative company, which I would like to see doing more to help bring computer to the next 5 Billion who really need it, rather than always focusing on the High End segment of the population, while ignoring the rest.
when I talk about bringing the price of computers down, I was not talking about creating cheapest smartphone, but rather bring the price of high-end computing device with High End Specs down.
Beside that was a Good read
I did not know that Apple had invested in this kind of project.Leave a message…
“for me, i see Apple as a truly capitalist company who cater only to those with a lot of money to spend on their device they advertised as a premium and a status symbol, that folks with an elitist mentality would love and die fo.
the majority of their loyal user tend to be a little bit arrogant with an emotional attachment more to the their brands, the story and the statu it represente than the device itself, which can be good for making a lot of money in the short term but bad when it come to reaching out to as much people as possible in the longer term.”
Who are these people who buy Apple for branding or status symbols? I keep hearing such things from people who present themselves as insightful, but I only find people who list quality, features, integration, resale, vendor support or third-party support has there reasons for purchasing.
I know that people like kenny like to ignore Apple’s exceptional battery life and focus instead of this fiction that people buy for other reasons, but it just doesn’t reflect reality. I mean, kenny, no one expected the iPad’s $499 price. The 3GS supports up to iOS6. You can resale your old phone and finance a new one. And because of this Apple has made billions since 2003.
And you consider that short term? I seems to me that that sort of thinking qualifies one for a cult, where reality is what people say it is instead of what it really is.
Kenny, of course Apple is a capitalist company – all companies are. But dont judge the Apple vision by the people that buy the products.
This article is simply about the vision and design principles that guided Steve Jobs.
“Google vs Apple: what do you consider to be the Biggest difference between the Two?” – Kenny
Apple makes their money on the hardware and Google makes their money on advertising. Apple believes in an integrated approach. In mobile, Google went with segmented (they do the OS and license out the hardware. That may be changing with the upcoming Motorola products). Apple is focused on best-of, high-end products. Google wants everybody to use their products, so they reduce the cost to $0 if they can and make their money from advertising.
Like most idealists, they’ve run into some very thorny practical problems, but I’m glad that they’re both striving to put a dent in the Universe.
Please, let me to answer to your question in base on my personal perception on both companies.
When we talk about Apple, everyone knows what is its philosophy, its values and ideals. We all know to where Apple leads its efforts, what it is looking for in terms of consumer satisfaction. A buyer will appreciate Apple products. It was always said that Apple has no users, but fans. And it’s true.
When we talk about Google, what we know is that its philosophy is very flexible, it adapts to the circumstance that works best for the company. Its ideals are unfounded, since Google betrayed his only one mantra: “Don’t be evil “. Google is the classic company that forget all those who helped it in his rise to the top, and once it got there, it proceeds to apply its “values”, which are exactly like those of Microsoft in his years of glory: annihilate all competition and impose its business model. But when this is not possible (like in Apple’s case), then you have to cause maximum damage whenever practicable. It’s Google’s way.
I am a graphic designer, I used Apple products since 1992 and I could feel the huge difference in quality and usability of the hardware before and after the return of Steve Jobs to Apple. I have worked with almost all brands of hardware from IBM, HP and Compaq, to the now defunct Silicon Graphics, even bad copies of Acer and Sony. I have also worked with several OSs: Mac OS, Windows (from Windows 95) and Solaris, and all have good things, and bad things, but what distinguishes them is undeniably easy to use, intuitive, and in this one Apple beats.
It is true that Apple products are far from perfect, but tell me what other company has dared to venture into unexplored areas, or in areas where others have failed (like Microsoft); tell me some companies who have risked so much and have succeeded . I bet there are very few, and Apple is one of them. That’s what makes Apple different and explains why so much hatred towards the company. As much as it hurts, Apple is the benchmark against which all others technological companies are measured , and it seems that this will not change at all in the short term.
I completely disagree with you on the notion of Google being a classic Evil company.
I like Google and Apple both for the simple reason that they are the two best company with two different culture and business model, that is really difficult to compete Against without hating them.
it is very hard not to be evil in the capitalistic world where the only thing that matters to most people is money.
I judge a company not by what some people have to say about them, rather on the way they impact the lives of people, and their approach at solving the world’s biggest problems.
I suggest you read this article, because it simplified exactly what I was about to tell you about Google
With very, very rare exceptions, companies are neither good nor evil. They exist to make money, and those that forget this usually don’t last very long. We tend to think of companies that take a long term view and that realize that the satisfaction of customers, shareholders, and employees is critical to their long-run health. But that is a definition of success, not of goodness.
I do not think it is a matter of being good or evil
for me no matter the company that can provide much as possible to the majority of people while still being very competitive. has a winning formula.
As a graphic designer, and also as a professor of marketing, I find very useful to use some of the resources available on the Internet, and if there is something that abounds on the net is information. Google has always interested me, I’ve read rivers of ink about its corporate culture, its way of working and the way Google sees the world. I had already read the article that you recommend in your answer, and let me tell you this: now, more than ever, I am sure of my apinion about Google.
I fully understand the question of capitalism, and I agree. All we go out every day to earn the money needed in our home, that is the law of life, I agree. But I disagree when someone whom I gave my trust, actually steal my ideas; or that my business “partner” suddenly become my biggest competitor too. That’s what Google does, its corporate behavior is not like a competitor, but a commercial predator. The best example of this are the endless demands that Google faces in the United States and Europe for its terrible business practices, and from the purchase of Motorola such practices have become even more harmful.
I have no intention to find out why Google does what it does, that it will correspond, in any case, historians and companies have to struggle with Google to ensure their existence. And that, thankfully, is not Apple’s situation.
You have no need to apologize or explain to Kenny. Your post stands on its own.
Thank you. Much appreciated.
I’ve read some of your posts but I’m going to sort of reply them all here.
If you don’t get Apple, or its products, you’ll never get it. No matter what others say or try to force it on you.
Experiencing Apple’s products is like religion (there I’ve said it). There’s a wow moment and then you just “get” it. And the reason behind this is stated precisely by John in this article. That Apple has the greatest passions for their products from user experience point of view for their customers. Not from their points of view, be them technology, engineering, or financial considerations.
Sure Apple makes money from us the customers but which company doesn’t? But Apple makes money from us by making us happy using their products. Microsoft makes money from their customers by making sure their products are the only ones the customers have to use. Google makes money by making their customers their products.
And you wonder why we Apple product users are such fan boys?
“Getting” Apple can only from experiencing their products, with an open mind. That’s why old people who have not used computers get iPads. That’s why young users (like my 3rd born at 19 months) get iPads. That’s why autistic people get iPads.
Try it some time. Maybe you’ll get it too.
I work in the OD consulting field. This is a textbook quality “recipe” for setting to be great personally, professionally, and organizationally.
Kenny’ raises the interesting point about how we react when we are disappointed by someone who should have known and done better. For me, I look at how these people respond to their failures. If they acknowledge and fix it (or provide some immediate restitution) I can set aside my disappointment
Great post John! I think Apple’s commitment to Rams’ design principles helps prevent overserving. And they’re able to quickly self-disrupt due to a functional structure that doesn’t prioritize profit maximization (a problem for companies organized by product divisions, each with its own P&L — as noted by Horace Dediu).
Thanks much for getting all these great thoughts into a single post!
Great post John! Thanks for gathering all these great ideas together!
Apples two main weapons against Christenson-style disruption are:
(1) Apple’s commitment to Dieter Rams’ design principles, which helps prevent overserving and allows them to easily prioritize, as appropriate and with reference to the specific product at issue, functionality/reliability versus convenience, affordability, and customization.
With the iPod Touch, affordability is prioritized over functionality. Consistent with Dieter Rams, Apple doesn’t try to make the product more than what it naturally is — a great game device and an affordable way to access the App Store. The job-to-be-done (gaming) is simple, so the product is designed and priced accordingly, which avoids overserving.
With the Mac Pro, functionality is prioritized over all else, because the product is used by developers and content creators to accomplish a sophisticated job-to-be-done (programming).
Both the iPod Touch and the Mac Pro are great products because they’re well designed around the respective jobs they’re trying to accomplish. A product that overserves isn’t well designed around the specific job-to-be-done.
Aesthetics and how a product looks/feels are part of a product’s functional job-to-be-done. This may be an oversight by Christensen. It’s definitely not overlooked by Rams, Apple, BMW, Mercedes, YSL, etc. It’s why high end products will always have a market, regardless of the number of low end competitors.
(2) A functional structure that prioritizes innovative, “insanely great” products rather than profit maximization by product division (as noted by Horace Dediu).
Phenomenal post. IMO, John Kirk’s ability to provide analysis WITH CONTEXT re: the current technology environment is peerless. It stands out even among the high-quality writing that is the norm on this site.
It made me think of Microsoft’s current reorg. In moving to functional units from formal divisions, Microsoft left out a functional area for Design or UX. Who is the Jonathan Ive of Microsoft? Who is responsible for pulling its technology together to create a cogent whole?
Microsoft is a left brain company that needs a much greater dose of right brain thinking. But it’s the type of company you get when a Harvard-educated accountant is in charge.
Yeah it’s like they tried to copy Apple but missed a vital part.
The emotional component of design, which is a result of focusing on user
interface and even more on use experience, can create an incredible
amount of competitive barriers to entry, but most of all customer
lock-in. As a heavy Apple-user myself, I figured out that the reason I’m
so attached to Apple products is that they bring the concept of
simplicity of use. Apple has simplified my own personal user experience.
When you’re a busy person and it takes only 2 steps to do something,
rather than 10 sets as everywhere else, this is the big difference.
It’s always a joy reading your article John. Did you attend Apple University? You should teach there.
A well-designed article! Says everything that needs to be said about Apple and Steve Jobs and the way they have not lost their vision.