Apple at Steve Jobs showed a striking balance between design and usability. Granted, it often shifted more towards the design side, resulting in problems such as antennagate, but this occurred when jobs were not around. They made sure that the products worked well and looked good – they understood the need to do both.
After Jobs left Apple in the 1980s, there were marked changes in Apple’s products. However, it was not until Windows 95 launched that people actually looked at Apple very differently, and were not particularly friendly.
By any financial measure, Tim Cook is doing a great job – but traditional CEOs work cleverly, sacrificing the future to hit ever greater heights until an increasingly fragile house of cards becomes goes.
Here’s a look at what the beautiful Apple Watch and sexy new MacBook can tell us about whether Cook is moving strategically – as Jobs did – or in line with Apple’s other CEOs, who ultimately failed.
I’ll close with my product of the week – what’s a better deal all of a sudden in a smartwatch: Fitbit Surge.
Apple has been largely successful in bringing out new standalone products that operate in a diverse ecosystem. IPods did not interfere with Windows PCs, and both iPhones and iPads interfered not only with Windows PCs, but with a significant number of non-Apple web servers, including Amazon Prime and Netflix.
The Apple Watch reverts to the iPod in that it initially only works with iPhones. (The first iPod only worked with Macs and did not sell well). This means that unlike other products, this is not an ideal way to bring new customers into the Apple family. They have to buy both the iPhone and Apple Watch to get there. This is a significant cost barrier to entry.
Part of the attraction of iPods, iPhone and iPad has been that they position the user. Like those who drive premium cars, those who bring an Apple product are viewed more favorably, as Apple’s brand is associated with quality products and experiences, which are believed to be the smart ones to buy.
However, the Apple Watch carries the risk. We are not used to seeing people talking with their wrists, and we also use less to watch people alternate between talking with their wrists and keeping their watch close to their ears, because they are used to environments with excessive noise. Can be in (eg a bar, airport or business conference).
In addition, we have seen people struggle to get their phones to work with boarding passes and airport scanners, shrinking or expanding the image while TSA or airline employees mess with the phone. Now imagine what it is going to look like on the wrist, all the people behind it are getting angry and outspoken by the line.
Finally, let’s take the US $ 10K Apple Watch. Unlike a Rolex or other watch in this price range, it is still a Tether iPod mini on your wrist. It will become obsolete in roughly 12–24 months.
I think people giving that kind of money are going to look pretty silly in future timeframes, although I doubt they will see it rushing to buy a brand new Apple product this year. The funny thing about rich people is that most people don’t make silly choices – and it sounds really silly.
The strange thing is, the cheapest Apple Watch seems to be the one that gives you the best price. Its price is higher than other smartwatches, making it the smartest version.
The lowest cost option is also similar to the most focused iPod, which first demonstrated Apple’s newfound success around this time in the last decade. When the smartest / best product in a luxury line is also the cheapest, it’s good for you – but usually not so good for the seller or brand.
The new macbook
Apple’s new MacBook is surprisingly thin and lightweight, using Intel Core M processors – but to get there, designers had to make some compromises. The keyboard is a short throw keyboard – better than a screen keyboard or membrane keyboard, but most laptop users currently prefer the keyboard.
The major problem is that to achieve this extreme thinness, designers had to sacrifice performance to prevent overheating – like they did with the original MacBook Air – suggesting that they would have to aggressively crush the processor.
In the first place, the Core M is not a performance part from Intel by any stretch of the imagination, at least not when compared to the Core i5 or Core i7. Some users were complained about the original Air – that it was slow – and the new MacBook should have this problem as well.
Thinning also increases the risk of bending / breaking of the product. HP, Toshiba and Sony have all tried to market products in this extra-thin class, and the market has also compromised them.