The Humility of Apple
Let's face it, humility is not the most common word used in connection in the context of Apple, Inc. Apple is often portrayed as having an elitist mindset in which they believe that they and their users have more privileges than others. The PC is a different beast from the Mac. Mac ads clearly demonstrate a stylistic and functional advantage over the inferior, less intelligent, less coordinated and generally less than a good PC. You feel like you're the guy, but in a "lovable loss," Charlie Brown kind of way. If you really believe that you're selling a better product, the best method of advertising it is to announce it. Comparing your product to inferior ones is standard in marketing. But this tone in these ads particularly seems to be way too far. In addition, Apple users are likely to have the fervent zealotry more commonly associated with religious groups. When you're "inside" you're a part of the benefits. If you're on the outside, your missing out. Additionally, Apple has taken this view of the elite one step further. They have turned into an oaf. Take, for example, the recent iOS App store submission policies. The requirements for approval are mysteriously unclear, as if there were an incantation you had to make exactly or some sacrifice to the gods is needed. They hold the keys to the kingdom. However, should you fall on the bad side of the king, you could be sacked, or even worse. For example, consider Flash as an example. Visit:- Apple maintains that the outright exclusion of Flash from their iOS devices is due to technical and performance issues (which seem valid) however, you can't be too sure that something has gone horribly wrong in a backroom somewhere and now Steve Jobs is able to make them have to pay. Yet, being able to exclude a major part of the web from the millions of devices connected to the internet is a stunning achievement in itself and, more importantly, being brave enough to do it. Apple even though they have legitimate reasons for their behavior continues to fuel its image as the bully carrying the biggest stick. The critics don't help. In reality, it's the critics who make up and embellish the perception. Let me admit that criticism is easy to come by, and in the era of instant and online journalism, a lot of what's marketed as "criticism" is actually link bait to attract readers. The articles are written for the moment and are then immediately tossed out to allow for the next piece that is coming down the pipeline. There are people who take their job seriously, and probably do have an axe to grind with Apple or anyone else who wields significant influence. To a certain point it's okay to criticize because, if you only relied on the official information you receive from the company the company, you would never know there were any issues at all. A constructive critique can lead to improved product development and more efficient customer service, and I'd argue that every company values the constructive criticism that it receives. However, as Apple increases its influence and their choices become increasingly non-traditional, the criticism is becoming increasingly "personal." The Apple App app approval system is drawing comparisons to the Gestapo methods of Nazi Germany. What's driving Apple's decision-makingprocess, and what is causing some critics so enraged? Instead of the power-hungry beast the media portrays Apple as, I would submit that at the heart of this is a fundamental humility. Therefore, "How do you figure out that?" you might ask. I'll answer your question. The concept became apparent to me as I watched the most recent Media Event online and saw the new products on offer, and then listened to the reaction of the press. Exhibit A: iPods. Each year, Apple does 2 things one. The company sells more iPods that the previous year, and then. they modify the iPod's lineup. They are unable to leave a good thing alone! Don't they see that consumers find themselves overwhelmed by too many possibilities? Don't they see that they are eating into their sales? Are they aware that people who purchased their iPods this week are now all angry? They do but they still do the same thing every year. What I've come be aware of is that Apple is very averse to failure (you will witness this in every item they design) However it seems that what they hate even more is their successes. They are never impressed with themselves or their products. It is true that the iPod is the single most-loved music player ever Yet they treat the device like a competitor. They have never been afraid to modify a design, or discontinue a line, even when it was still selling. They are ruthless, alright...but toward their own products. Exhibit A: Apple TV. This is a rare case that is an Apple failure or at the least the closest they get to it. I'm sure that they didn't lose money with the device, but it wasn't a smash success like the other products they produce. For many companies it's likely that this "failure" could be the flagship product. However, the criticism was always centered around what was "could" become. In fact, we'll see there is common complaint against Apple. They never leave their customers wanting more in the form of marketing for "this would have been really great if only it had (fill in the blank)." What then does Apple do? They've cut out even more features! The new Apple TV has no hard drive, fewer ports and smaller dimensions. It's only half the size of the one it used to be. This is exactly the opposite of what people believed they wanted it to be. But let's examine Apple's reasoning here. Most of the changes came directly from user feedback. They looked at how real users utilized the device in their real homes. The reduction was about trimming off of unnecessary items similar to a sculptor taking away only what doesn't belong. It's now easier to understand what it does, and much less complicated to utilize. The point is to consider: could Apple take Apple TV into the "next stage" and added even more ports as well as increased storage and better integration to content networks? Could they have made it a hub for all your content? Could they have made it slice and dice your veggies? Sure they could! That's what is so great about Apple. They absolutely could have built the perfect device to satisfy all the tech-savvy geeks out there...but they DIDN'T! Why is that? Because regular people don't want this. People are often overwhelmed by the number of options, and good design is a result of the user's experience, not capabilities. The reason that they get the brunt of criticism about what their products "could" accomplish is that they make products that simply "do" what they promise, in the simplest way. This, in short, is the humbleness of Apple. They are willing to take criticism from critics, and pretend to be the bully, and create products that could be greater than they are to earn the trust and gratitude of their customers. Critics are a loud minority, but they are serving at least one decent service. Through creating this perception and doing it with such vitriol and enthusiasm, when a new customer actually uses Apple products, the response is unsurprising. Apple device, their response is one of surprise, which is the recipe for the success of Apple.

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