There’s a Worm in It

September 7, 2007

Why do they keep going back?
 
The Mac has never been mainstream. Macs cost more than a Windows based PC and do less. The software available is limited. Easier to use? I’ve never heard of a Windows user who migrated to Mac and lived happily ever after. In fact, most PC users who try a Mac hate the limitations and switch back to PC.
 
I bought an IPod when they first came out. It failed after 2 months. I had so much trouble with the replacement—losing it’s place in an audio book, not switching off, scrambling it’s own software requiring frequent re-installs—that I purchased a newer, more sophisticated model. Today my original IPod doesn’t even work as a stick drive. It’s totally dead and less than two years old. I have trouble with my new IPod too. And I hate ITunes. I refuse to buy ANYTHING from a software program that insists on being in my face whenever I start it. I must use ITunes to add an audio book to my IPod. Up come the ads. Up come the sales pitches. Yes, I can turn that off but it comes back on every time I run disk cleanup.
 
I laughed to see people camping in lines to buy a cell phone for $599. Yes, you can read your email and surf the web and show pictures of your cat to people who don’t want to see your cat. You can take pictures of other people’s cats with your IPhone too. And you can listen to songs on your IPhone.
 
Apple cut the price of the IPhone by $200 after only 2 months on the market. That made some campers very, very mad. Steve Jobs to the rescue! Those willing to sleep on a sidewalk to buy a cell phone for $599 and forego choice of service provider (you MUST go with AT&T) will be granted a $100 credit. Will this $100 apply to their cell bill? No, it’s a $100 credit good at an IPhone store. So the people who paid $599 for a now $399 phone can buy a spare battery with their store credit. When they deplete their batteries by showing off pictures of their cats and actually need to make a call, they’ll have the power to do so.
 
There are two things about all this worth noting. Jobs has done an incredible job of creating “I want that” around his products. This is worthy of study. In a glutted cell phone market Apple did not introduce a cheaper phone, they introduced a phone with more “wow”. They built buzz. They sold the most expensive cell phone on the market because people “had to have one”. Steve Jobs created the “I have to have that” factor.
 
I find the other notable component to the IPhone saga disturbing. We are such a society of excess that people will line up to buy an obviously over-priced cell phone just to have the “latest thing”. The stories about problems with these phones are legion in spite their mere two month market existence. And they have already depreciated in “new” value by 1/3. Still, Apple will have a loyal, no, fiercely loyal, following.
 
It’s the “I” in all those Apple products that appeals. IMacs, IPods, IPhones. We live in a very self-centered, self-serving society and Jobs knows it.
 
Can this strategy be sustained? I don’t think so. If the IPhone can’t hold it’s launch price for longer than two months it suggests a weakness in the whole “I have to have what you don’t have” strategy.
 
And there’s this service issue. Would you be happy with a $100 “store credit”? I’d feel used. Actually, screwed is the correct word.
 
If your company wants to create “wow” don’t envy or emulate Apple. Remember that people who are chasing the latest thing will be off to the next thing quickly. Build quality, be different and give great service. Your wave will last longer than 2 months.
 
I like Steve jobs as the CEO of Pixar Studios. There he creates original thought and great entertainment. He appeals to our inner child. Toy Story will make it to the classic list. At Apple he appeals the other child within. The selfish, “mine, mine, mine” child.
 
It’s not conventional to be critical of Steve Jobs. I don’t care. I really am sick of IStuff.
 
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
 

Chris Reich

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