Apple's Formula for Success

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By goffperu
January 23, 2007

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Goofyhoofy raised a good question about what Apple might go next. It occurred to me that they have shown a pretty distinct pattern outside of the computer area:

Fix what sucks

Jobs has found electronic devices that work badly, are ugly, and make our lives more difficult. Think about it:

1) iPod: MP3 players that preceded it were ugly, didn't hold enough songs, were slow to upload to, and irritating to navigate through. FIXED with iPod

2) Music management software: Before iTunes, music management software were poorly designed. Intuitive things were made difficult. There was excessive attention to techie things that most non-geeks didn't care about, like bit rate, format, etc. FIXED with iTunes

3) Music downloading: I honestly don't think Steve cared much about Naptster, Limewire, etc. being illegal. I think he was mainly disgusted by how bad they were. It was difficult to find songs. You would sometimes download songs and find that they were either poor quality or not what you thought. The interface was nasty. FIXED with iTunes Music Store.

4) TV Shows: It was irritating that we had to watch TV shows at the time they are shown, or go through the painful process of recording on VHS. The only half solution was TIVO, which is nice, but not cheap. Why should I buy a TIVO when I already have a computer? What about shows I can't get because they are no longer played? FIXED with iTunes Music Store v2

5) Home media management: Now that I have all of these TV shows, movies, songs, ripped DVDs, etc., how to handle them. It sucks to watch a movie on a 12" MacBook screen when my big TV is staring at me jealously across the room. FIXED @TV.

6) Mobile phones: Cell phones suck SO MUCH! How can predictive text be so idiotically bad? My Moto KRZR usually produces complete gobbledygook that isn't even words! Why? Why do I have to click through so many screens to look at my own phone number? Why do I need to listen to my voicemail in order? Why do I need to carry a phone AND an iPod? FIXED iPhone.

I think that this is the way to think about new products. Ask yourself "What sucks?" You could argue that digital cameras and dig video cameras suck. Home data management sucks (e.g. controlling heating/cooling, etc)--don't think Apple will go there though. Sorry, I don't have good applications of the formula in mind, but I think that is it.

Here is a short term one: It sucks that I need to know what protocol of voice/data communications I am using. iPhone should seamlessly switch between GSM, Wi-Fi, etc. without me having to know about it. Basically, we need better iChat integration.


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