Past Blogs

"Five Things I Admire About Apple"

"Five Things to Remember About New Product Development"

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"Take a break"

Check out "Time Out Free" from Dejal Systems, available from the Mac App store or directly from the developer. It's a great little piece of software that gently helps you manage your health and sanity if you spend long hours looking into your computer monitor.

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"Take a longer break"

"Backstage Past"

Lone Wolf Press 2011

available as an ebook

Barry Fey's entertaining and insightful autobiography.

This highly successful concert promoter's career is a testament to his determination, adaptability and focus on his customers.

Interesting Info

"New Square device replaces cash register" USA Today 3/5/12

"Illegal Interview Questions" CNET.com3/7/12

 

Good Reads

"WILLPOWER"

Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

Baumeister & Tierney

Penguin Press 2011

available as an ebook

 

"the back page"

Some thoughts that may be enlightening or entertaining.

"Five Things I Admire About Apple"

Yes, I just got my “New iPad.” I did pretty well this time, holding out with my first generation model through the iPad 2 phase without upgrading. But, I was one of those fanatics banging away at the keyboard trying to get into the Apple online store right after the launch announcement.

I’ve loved the company and its products since my first Mac in the mid eighties. That’s back when a MB of hard drive storage cost around $14. The entire contents of my 60MB drive back then would get lost in the dusty corners of the USB stick I got for free in the mail as part of sales campaign recently. But I digress.

I did some thinking about why I’m such a loyal and good customer. (There are maybe one or two products in their portfolio that I don’t own.) I boiled it down to five things that I admire about the company.

1. Their products work so well together. Devices integrate easily with networking. Software breathes and grows with the hardware and the user, all the while practically maintaining itself. I remember, ashamedly, a time in my life when I had slipped over to the “dark side” (Windows) due to corporate requirements. Then, I got my first iPod and fell in love with it. I decided to replace my Dell desktop with a Mac just because I knew the integration of the devices would be such a joy. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone. Sounds like an integrated product strategy to me. Don’t take my Windows comments too seriously, it’s a good platform, just not as good as the Mac for my needs.

2. The entire buying experience is fun. The retail store is a fun place to be, though crowd management is starting to be a problem. Talk about packaging. Remember when you were a kid at Christmas? Opening the presents was as exciting as playing with the toys. A little bit of Christmas morning happens every time I open an Apple box. And product Launches? The “New “ (really generation 3) iPad launch was carried as a feature story on every major news outlet I saw, including prime time network TV. Who else gets that kind of coverage on a product launch? Yes, I admit I followed the launch presentation through two live blogs of the event.

3. Simplicity is Elegant. The Apple brand image is clean, clear and elegant. It is well integrated into every way that the company presents itself to the world. The products, packaging, and communications are so well designed they are, well… beautiful.

4. They care about their customer(s). When I use one of their products I sense that they spent a lot of time and energy making it as easy as they could for me. They really wanted me to have something that I needed and wanted. They wanted it to be the best option to meet my needs. They want me to enjoy the experience and have fun, … even when I’m working, or maybe especially when I’m working. They embody grace and empathy in design.

5. Nothing is impossible. Apple dreams it before we do. Carry your music collection around in your pocket? Sell music on-line? Simple home networking? High-end musician / recording, or film editing tools for under a grand? “Smart” phones? A tablet people will buy? They all used to be impossible objectives. A lot of credit for this belongs to Steve Jobs. But I believe it’s firmly implanted in the company’s culture, even now that he is gone. Walter Isaacson’s biography is a great read, by the way.

The company and its products are changing the way we live. News, information and entertainment are so much more attainable, and the quality of all three improving as a result. As an example, I love music. I had close to a thousand record albums collected over the years gathering dust in the basement. It was too much of a hassle to pull them out and listen to them. Now, with my Apple tools, I can reach back to my crazy teenage taste wherever and whenever I want. The memories come flooding back. You really can’t put a price on that. A camera in my pocket wherever I go – with my calendar, email, phone, real-time map and directions and a thousand other things which are important to me…what a change in my life. Plus, they all keep themselves together, updated, with my other tools without bothering me about it. Priceless! The iPad is improving effectiveness in healthcare, education, and sales, to name a few. Soon, kids everywhere may not be carrying around backpacks bigger than they are, full of books, at school. The company is giving away the textbook creation software to authors – just to make it happen. Just about everywhere you look, Apple products are changing our lives for the better, even if you don’t use them.

So I guess the lessons to be learned from this are:

1. Make sure your products work well together and complement each other (Portfolio Planning.)

2. Pay attention to the entire buying experience for your customer.

3. Care about your customer. Everyone seems to think about this during the sales and service phases, but don’t forget about it up front during the product development and management phases. How will what you sell or do enhance their work or life experience?

4. Simplicity is Elegant. The principles of good design should be applied everywhere.

5. Nothing is impossible. If you care about your customers and create what they need and want, you can build the momentum that will drive through the technological, operational, and entrenched perception obstacles.

One last thing, I never talked about price. Apple stuff is more expensive. But that never seems to bother me. Maybe that’s why they’re getting $600 a share nowadays. I remember back when it was sitting around a $100. I seriously considered putting a serious chunk of cash into it. I didn’t. More about that later in “Five Things I Don’t Admire About Me.”

Oh, I love the new iPad by the way. The screen is as “Resolutionary,” as they claim. And, I’m having some fun with the dictation capability, too.